Much has been made over the commercialization of Chanukah. That once was just a minor holiday has become a highlight of the Jewish year and a marketing bonanza.
Leaving aside the religious significance of the holiday for the moment, I will say that this year the holiday is a big deal for my family. Aside from the minor fast of the 10th of Tevet, it marks the last of our “first holidays” with our daughter. At 10 months old, we don’t expect her to know the story of the Maccabees’ military victory or appreciate the miracle of the oil. But we are pretty sure she’s going to enjoy eating latkes, be fascinated by the candle lighting, and have fun being danced around the room like the dreidels she won’t be allowed to play with because they’re a choking hazard.
At 10 months old, we are also pretty sure that she doesn’t need presents. We are very grateful to be surrounded by family and friends who have already made sure that she has enough clothes to last her until kindergarten, and it’s almost impossible to find a room in the house that hasn’t been incorporated into her playroom.
Still, I wanted to get her something special for the holiday. Eight days worth of new clothes she’s only going wear once seems silly. Eight new toys would be less interesting to her than the boxes and wrapping paper they were presented to her in. Which had me thinking about what she would actually use and be budget friendly for all eight nights… And the envelope please – Chanukah pajamas!
It seemed so obvious, I couldn’t believe how hard they were to find. I will acknowledge that I am cheap – I believe in shopping clearance, and also that I am picky. If I am going to spend money on clothing my daughter didn’t need, specifically for a “special” occasion, I wanted the pajamas to be, well, special. Now, after extensive online searching, I have the following tips for designers of infant pajamas everywhere:
#1 – If you are trying to market an item for a holiday that usually falls in the winter, a cotton short sleeved onesie is insufficient for vast swaths of the country. A long sleeved option is the least you can do.
#2 – A regular set of infant pajamas costs about $10 (or less). If you are charging more than double that, I am laughing at you and moving on. If you are charging over $10, sticking a picture of a dreidel on a t-shirt is still insufficient. Also, charging less than $10 and then not making it available in the store so that I have to pay twice the cost of the clothing for shipping is not going to work.
#3 – The absolutely best thing you are doing is making all Chanukah related clothing blue and yellow. I don’t know when they became the official colors of the holiday, but as the mom of a little girl, I definitely do appreciate the opportunity to buy clothing that is not pink and purple.
#4 – There is a completely untapped market for Chanukah hair accessories. In all my searching, I only found 3 hairbands. If you offered a matching headband with your pajamas, I might not laugh as hard at your prices.
Ultimately though, I was successful. While I couldn’t find pajamas, I did find a long sleeved Chanukah themed t-shirt that I could have customized with my daughter’s Hebrew name. It’s blue and she will wear it to sleep for 8 nights. (even if I have to do laundry every day).
I did say that I would return to the religious significance of the holiday. It’s a time when we focus on overcoming obstacles, and celebrating miracles. Every day of my daughter’s life been a learning experience – some with more challenges than others, but every one a miracle. Celebrating this miracle with a special t-shirt doesn’t seem like unreasonable commercialization to me. Instead it’s an opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah of pirsum hanes – the publicizing of the miracle.
May we all be blessed with a holiday filled with lights and miracles.
(p.s. – I actually splurged and bought the one personalized shirt for her to wear as Chanukah pajamas and a 2nd t-shirt to wear on Thanksgivukkah… Here are the great ETSY shops where I found them:
Also, http://www.1-800-dreidel.com/ has amazing fabrics for sale… I will be checking out the Passover options (because what makes more sense for a toddler to wear to a seder than Pesach pajamas?)