Chanukah Book Haul & December OwlCrate Review!

Chanukah wrapped up for the year on January 1, and I have to say, my family was mighty generous this year! We don’t typically buy a lot of gifts during Chanukah, but hubby knew that 2016 was a pretty crappy year for me, and went out of his way to get some of my most highly desired gifts!

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Of course, the Tesla that he ordered arrived this month, so maybe they were guilt gifts, BWAHAHAHAHAHA!! Off topic – we LOVE the Tesla!! We have been planning this purchase, and saving up for a few years now, and it is everything we expected and more! And super-easy on road trips, as we just got back from a North Carolina to Florida trip!

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By far, my favorite gift this year are the two customized Funko Pops! that hubby bought for M and I. Made by Mason Bartlett, from his Etsy shop FocoCustom, these were such an amazing and thoughtful gift, that look just like us! The one on the left is M, complete with blue hair (which has faded out since the fall), her favorite Paris t-shirt, her Gizmo watch, and the kitty ears headband she wears all the time! I love that my Pop! has the sunglasses that always hang out on the top of my head, a scarf that I often wear, and even my Fitbit!

M bought me the Bernie Sanders Funko Pop!, and he has already had a rousing debate with the Hillary Pop! M received for her birthday.

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If we can’t make it to NYC to see the musical anytime soon, then this is the next best thing! Yay for receiving a gift off of my TTT Chanukah Wish list post!

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So much fun in one picture!

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
  • From M, a bunch of Forest Fellows Iwako erasers, and the school supplies eraser set. I collect these, and her picks are a great addition to my collection! Can you find the gray koala hanging out in the background?
  • The coveted clothbound Game of Thrones set, another gift on my TTT wish list post!
  • HappyHelloCo bookmarks, off of another one of my bookworm gift lists!

I also received a Sur La Table gift card from my parents, which will be used to replace our dying toaster oven! I am very thankful for the generosity of my family this year.

December OwlCrate Review

The December OwlCrate theme was EPIC!, and I wasn’t sure what to expect other than at least one HP item.

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Our Mensch on the Bench was very excited to see what was inside. (Mr. Mensch snuck into our house this year unbeknownst to me…ahem…thanks hubby and M). I’m still not a fan of the whole Elf on Shelf/Mensch on the Bench thing, but he is kinda cute.

I have to say, this is probably my least favorite of the three Owlcrate boxes that I have received so far, but it still had some great things in it to make the purchase worth it!

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Seeing a HP Mystery Mini figure was definitely exciting! We all had fun guessing which one it would be…Voldemort, Hermione, or Hagrid. And the winner was M, with her guess of…

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HERMIONE!

Despite the mixed reviews I have seen, I am quite excited about this month’s book selection, Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst, especially since it was already on my TBR list for #DiversityBingo2017!

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Other items in the OwlCrate included:

  • Lord of the Rings pin, designed by Jane Mount (Ideal Bookshelf).
  • Game of Thrones coasters, a perfect accompaniment to my GoT book set! Designed by Dark Horse Comics.
  • Sticker quote inspired by The Darker Shade of Magic, designed by Miss Phi. I love this one!
  • Chronicles of Narnia greeting card by Susanne Draws. I’m not a Chronicles of Narnia fan, so I feel a bit meh on this one. However, the design is quite lovely!

OwlCrate is a monthly YA box subscription. You can find out more by visiting OwlCrate. The January Box theme is “Classic Remix”.

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Bookish Gifts for 8 Crazy Nights

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week the theme was Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree. Since we don’t have a tree, or get visits from Santa, I thought I’d change it slightly to reflect our Chanukah celebrations!

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10 Bookish Gifts for 8 Crazy Nights of Chanukah!

Folio Society Books!

I love these beautiful publications, and would love to receive a few more! These are three that I have been ogling for a while:

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • Emma by Jane Austen

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Hamilton: The Revolution

By Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. Because I love all things Hamilton!

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Game of Thrones Collection

By George R.R. Martin. I desperately want this cloth-bound boxed set that includes the first five books of the Games of Thrones series!

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March, Books 1 -3

By John Lewis. John Lewis is one of my idols, and a true American hero. He is the only speaker from the 1963 March on Washington that is still alive. I consider the world lucky that John Lewis chose to document his time during the Civil Rights movement in the way he did, in a series of graphic novel memoirs. I will definitely be reading these in 2017, and would love to own them!

Leigh Bardugo Boxed Sets

I would love these two boxed sets, of the Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows Duology.

Harry Potter!

I have read HP multiple times, but the more I see the illustrated editions, the more I would like to own them!

What books are on your wish list lately? Happy Holidays!

I don’t celebrate Christmas, and that is okay!

There are loads and loads of Christmas-themed posts popping up on my Reader this month, and it is nice to see the joy of all those who celebrate Christmas get into the holiday spirit. I delight in visiting friend’s homes and looking at all of their cheery Christmas trees and decorations.

Maybe this post is a gentle reminder that there are lots of people out there who don’t celebrate Christmas, and that is okay, too.

Because what really gets me, and drives me batty sometimes, is the idea that I am somehow missing out on things because I don’t celebrate this holiday. Some people don’t understand how insulting that is!

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I am agnostic, and my husband is Jewish. We are raising our daughter Jewish, so we are a Jewish family. And I can’t tell you how many times during the month of December, each year, we have to deal with some variation of a kind-hearted gesture rooted in ignorance. Or sometimes, just plain rudeness.

Such as the neighbor who, every single year, drops off an Advent calendar for my daughter, with the following remark, “I know there’s the Christian thing and all, but I don’t want her to feel left out.” My mother-in-law was visiting during this scenario last week, to which she responded, “Do you know how insulting that is to a Jewish person? We don’t have a ‘Christian thing’ or a ‘Christian problem’. We’re just not Christian.” Oy vey.

Or, the “Where’s your Elf on the Shelf/Christmas Tree/Christmas outfit/Picture with Santa? I don’t understand why you can’t do that, its cultural, not religious!” Umm…okay. The average Jewish person isn’t too interested in celebrating a holiday on a regular basis that is a part of someone else’s religion. Jews don’t do Christmas. Muslims don’t do Christmas. Buddhists don’t do Christmas.

Of course, Jewish families can now buy this:

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Mensch: a person of integrity and honor. We’ve passed on the Elf on the Shelf replacement toy, LOL.

Then there was the time I was berated for wishing someone Happy Holidays. Apparently, it was rude not to say “Merry Christmas”.  Hmm…interesting take on things. I am not offended when someone wishes me a “Merry Christmas” – I usually just nod politely and continue on my way – but suddenly, I’m rude if I don’t say it in return?

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Or the time that our Chanukah flag was stolen from our front yard, and swastikas were graffitied on the street sign. That is certainly not embracing the holiday spirit for anyone.

And when M was younger, the constant refrain, “Doesn’t she believe in Santa Claus?” Followed closely by, “I certainly hope she doesn’t ruin it for the other kids!” comments. Those are the worst. For the record, M is going on 9 years of keeping that secret from her Santa-believing friends, as we ingrained into her long ago that Santa is a very important tradition for many of her friends, and we should respect their beliefs and traditions.

One of the weirdest things I’ve heard in response to my lack of Christmas celebrations is, “But Christmas is not about religion!” I think my devout Christian friends would take issue with that perspective! As would some of my Wiccan and other pagan friends. Considering the holiday was co-opted from pagan celebrations!

Our family personally does not inflate Chanukah, a minor holiday, to Christmas levels. Others do, and that is totally cool, too. Instead of exchanging a large number of gifts (8 nights!), we choose to spend time with each other doing various activities: board game night, movie night, and latke making night are just a few of the things that we do during Chanukah.

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I have been accused of not being able to get into the holiday spirit. Quite the opposite, I take great joy in sharing our family traditions with those who are genuinely interested in learning about them. As I do in sharing in the holiday traditions of our diverse group of friends and family.

For those who celebrate Christmas, it is seen as a time to be kind and generous. To contribute to peace on Earth. A great way for a person to do that would be to open their mind to experiences that are different from their own. Take the time to appreciate and learn about the diversity that surrounds you!

And for those who sincerely wonder what a Jewish family does on Christmas Day when everything is closed? I can’t speak for all Jews, but for us, that week of December is often filled with a lot of: movies, Chinese food, binge book reading, board games, Legos, hot cocoa and cookies, and a lot of chillaxing. It’s delightful. And certainly not anything to be pitied (yes…we get that, too!).

Now that you have a glimpse into what a December looks like for this family, here is a list of various holidays that are celebrated in December around the world! As you can see, December is about so much more than Christmas, and I always love to learn more about the diverse holidays celebrated on this beautiful planet. And if I have the incorrect information for anything below, please let me know!

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December Holidays Around the World

  • November 27 – December 24 – Advent. The season of spiritual preparation in observance of the birth of Jesus. In Western Christianity it begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. In Eastern Christianity, the season is longer and begins in the middle of November.
  • December 8 – Bodhi Day. The Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddartha Gautama, attained enlightenment.
  • December 10 – International Human Rights Day. Established by the United Nations in 1948 to commemorate the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Sundown, December 11 – Sundown December 12 (dates may vary slightly) – Eid Milad Un Nabi (Mawlid). An Islamic celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.
  • December 12 – Feast Day at Our Lady of Gaudalupe. A Catholic holiday in honor of Jesus’ mother Mary.
  • December 16 – 24: Las Posadas. A religious festival celebrated in Mexico that commemorates the journey made by Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
  • December 21 – Yule/Winter Solstice (in the Northern Hemisphere). A pagan celebration on the shortest day of the year that focuses on rebirth, renewal and new beginnings as the sun makes its way back to the earth.
  • Sundown, December 24 – Sundown, January 1 – Chanukah. The Festival of Lights, an 8-day Jewish holiday recognizing the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
  • December 25 – Christmas.
  • December 26 – January 1 – Kwanzaa. An African-American and Pan-African holiday started by Maulana Karenga in 1966. It is a celebration of community, family, culture, and heritage.