The Great Celebration of Hannahkuh

Hannahkuh color
Hannah Gutman

The air is getting colder, the days are getting shorter, and white women around the world are rushing to Starbucks to grab their gingerbread lattes and peppermint mochas. Ladies and gentlemen, winter is fast approaching. As a child, I anxiously awaited the first flakes of snow, the last day of school before the freedom of winter break, and of course, the most important day of the year: my birthday, the one day each year when everything is supposed to be about me. But no, my mother had the audacity to give birth to me on the cold night-morning (this is the term I use to refer to the hours between 1 and 4 a.m.) of December 22nd, 1991. Why am I so bitter about my day of birth? Let me give you a brief overview of my birthday’s place in history.

69 – Emperor Vitellius is captured and murdered at the Gemonian stairs in Rome. (Bummer, right?)

1769 – Sino-Burmese War (1765–1769) ends with an uneasy truce. (UNEASY)

1807 – The Embargo Act, forbidding trade with all foreign countries, is passed by the U.S. Congress, at the urging of President Thomas Jefferson. (If I traveled back in time to 1807, I wouldn’t even be able to trade on my birthday. How rude.)

1937 – The Lincoln Tunnel opens to traffic in New York, New York. (More like opens up a whole new world of traffic jams, am I right?)

1942 – World War II: Adolf Hitler signs the order to develop the V-2 rocket as a weapon. (Hitler can sign that but not a birthday card?)

1992 – The Archives of Terror are discovered. (I have no idea what those are, but they don’t sound good.)

2008 – An ash dike ruptured at a solid waste containment area in Roane County, Tennessee, releasing 1.1 billion US gallons (4,200,000 m3) of coal fly ash slurry. (The Lorax weeps each year on my birthday.)

Sure, some good things have happened throughout the years on this particular day, namely the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2010, but even that can’t outweigh this day’s historic flaws. My birthday marks the beginning of winter and is the shortest day of the year. I GET LESS BIRTHDAY THAN EVERYONE ELSE. How is that fair?

I have never had patience for things that are unfair, mainly because I grew up with six brothers and sisters. When you have that many siblings you come to loathe the principle of sharing. I can’t even share a table at the library with a stranger without clearing my throat repeatedly or faking a phone call to Homeland Security about having a strange, highly communicable disease. How do you expect me to share my birthday? Not only do I have to compete with other birthday girls like Jordin Sparks and Ali Lohan, but there are also so many holidays and observances overshadowing me. Mothers’ Day in Indonesia, National Mathematics Day in India, and don’t get me started on the festivals of the Winter Solstice!

The greatest struggle in my twenty-one years of birthdays, hands down, has been Chanukah. Even when spelled “Hanukkah” it remains my biggest threat. Think about it. Eight days, eight nights, and every other year or so, my birthday falls within those holy days. Sure, some years my birthday escapes that window by a few days, maybe a week, but no matter what, my parties, cards and gifts are always absorbed into that dreaded category of “Birthday/Hanukkah.” None of my other siblings have to share their special days. My brother, born February 15th, and my sister, July 3rd,  get chocolate hearts and fireworks with no mention of adjacent holidays. I, on the other hand, get chocolate gelt and light candles on the menorah. (And never Roman Candles. I tried that in Hanukkah of ’97 and the family cat never recovered).

Some of you may find me unfairly self-absorbed in thinking that I’m the only person in this predicament, but hear me out. You have to consider that my name, though spelled like a name that rhymes with banana, is pronounced like Hanukkah, without the “kuh.” I shudder to think of how often people have assumed I was named after the holiday surrounding my birth. Also, because it’s chilly in this room and I could use a sweater.

This year I have decided to finally take a stand. If I can’t stop people from wishing me a “Happy Birthday/Hanukkah,” I’ll simply make them live up to it. Why not embrace the mashup? If both holidays are to be celebrated simultaneously, shouldn’t that entitle me to eight days of birthday cheer? The way I see it, I’m being generous. I’m giving my family and friends a break. Think of all the ink they’ll save by writing one card! How much more time they’ll have to play Candy Crush since they don’t have to wish me well on two separate occasions! All I ask for in return is one gift a day, per individual, per holiday. Sure, that may add up to fourteen presents each year (seven for the goyim!), but come on, this poor Jewish girl has been slighted her entire life and deserves a little residual here. Haven’t my people suffered enough?

In the spirit of generosity, I have even thought up a name for my new hybrid holiday: “Hannahkuh” (not to be confused with the similarly spelled Jewish holiday or my identically spelled Twitter handle). Like every other winter holiday, “Hannahkuh” has a catchy song for carolers wishing to visit my doorstep.

On the first night of Hannahkuh, 

my REAL friends and family gave to me…

A menorah and a flat-screen TV.

On the second night of Hannahkuh, 

my REAL friends and family gave to me…

Two hoop earrings, two leather boots,

A menorah and a flat-screen TV.

On the third night of Hannahkuh, 

my REAL friends and family gave to me…

Three loaves of challah, three loaded Nerf guns,

Two hoop earrings, two leather boots,

A menorah and a flat-screen TV.

On the fourth night of Hannahkuh, 

my REAL friends and family gave to me…

Four spinning dreidels, four seasons of Arrested Development,

Three loaves of challah, three loaded Nerf guns,

Two hoop earrings, two leather boots,

A menorah and a flat-screen TV.

On the fifth night of Hannahkuh, 

my REAL friends and family gave to me…

Five bagels with schmear, five free movie tickets,

Four spinning dreidels, four seasons of Arrested Development,

Three loaves of challah, three loaded Nerf guns,

Two hoop earrings, two leather boots,

A menorah and a flat-screen TV.

On the sixth night of Hannahkuh, 

my REAL friends and family gave to me…

Six sizzling latkes, a six pack of good beer,

Five bagels with schmear, five free movie tickets,

Four spinning dreidels, four seasons of Arrested Development,

Three loaves of challah, three loaded Nerf guns,

Two hoop earrings, two leather boots,

A menorah and a flat-screen TV.

On the seventh night of Hannahkuh, 

my REAL friends and family gave to me…

Seven bags of gelt, seven pounds of Swedish Fish,

Six sizzling latkes, a six pack of good beer,

Five bagels with schmear, five free movie tickets,

Four spinning dreidels, four seasons of Arrested Development,

Three loaves of challah, three loaded Nerf guns,

Two hoop earrings, two leather boots,

A menorah and a flat-screen TV.

On the eighth night of Hannahkuh, 

my REAL friends and family gave to me…

Eight lit aromatherapy candles, eight ironic t-shirts,

Seven bags of gelt, seven pounds of Swedish Fish,

Six sizzling latkes, a six pack of good beer,

Five bagels with schmear, five free movie tickets,

Four spinning dreidels, four seasons of Arrested Development,

Three loaves of challah, three loaded Nerf guns,

Two hoop earrings, two leather boots,

A menorah and a flat-screen TV.

See? Is that too much to ask? I have a feeling this is really going to catch on. Happy Hannahkuh, everyone!

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