What’s Wrong With You: Fifty (Minus Forty-Five) Shades of Hanukkah Gray Area

Dear Friends,

After reading in the New York Times over the weekend about how retailers go out of their way to make the holiday shopping experience worse than it inherently is, I am overwhelmed with empathy for all of us. There’s simply no escaping Big Brother holiday “cheer”: online shoppers contend with hourly price-changes; people who eschew gifts still get creepy, tonally-homogenous Santa Muzak blasted into their eardrums at groceries and drugstores. I don’t even know if I’m experiencing a gush of my own repressed magnanimity or if I’ve contracted the forced-jollies virus in the air. Whichever it is, I feel moved to try to be kinder this week than is my norm–my apologies (if I succeed) to those of you who come for the snark.–Judith


Dear Judith,

I’ve been with my boyfriend for four years, and we’ve been living together and discussing marriage for three. Well, a few months ago I threatened to break up with him if he didn’t propose by Hanukkah–and now that Hanukkah is here, I realize the error of my ways. But he’s exactly the type to pop the question on the last night, and I’d hate to derail that. Can I wait and see what he does, or must I absolutely nip this in the bud before it’s too late?

Thanks so so much,

Hanukkah Hopeful

Dear Hopeful,

Seriously, it took until the menorahs came out of storage/down from their display shelves to dawn on you that you handed your boyfriend a “get out of the relationship free, no it’s-not-you-it’s-me speech necessary” card? I mean, um, wow, you’re in a tough spot, suddenly realizing while everyone is giving gifts that you need to rescind one.

Retailers extend their return periods this time of year, allowing us until the end of January to act thrilled with our loot, write thank-you notes and then slyly exchange it all–if we can find our way through the post-season sales to the customer service desk behind the freight elevator, that is. In any event, you don’t have profits to maximize by deferring your ultimatum–you have losses to staunch by cancelling it.

Look on the bright side: you’ll save a fortune on divorce lawyers if you postpone his proposal, and if he proposes anyway you can kid yourself that then maybe it wasn’t coerced.  (He’ll always claim it was, but you’ll be armed to argue otherwise.) The only possible downside is if he never intended to propose, you’ll ultimately regret the rest of the time you spend with him until you split. So if no ring is produced while that eighth candle is burning down, remind yourself it’s 2012, hand him a beer, unzip his pants and ask him to marry you. If he says no, at least he’ll be forced to explain.

May what’s meant to be happen,


Dear Judith,

I completely agree with what you said in your last column about gifts being strictly for the giftee. But my boyfriend is always worrying that I’ll max out his text messages with my sexts, and I love the idea of upgrading his plan. He’d do it himself if not for his shoestring budget, and he’ll be able to text (but not sext!) more with everyone, not only me. So is it an appropriate gift? It’s pointless to ask him how he feels, he politely declines everything anyone offers him.


Sext Addict

Dear Sext Addict,

Long ago, before there were cell phones, there were these cute little pillboxes called beepers, and I had a boyfriend and he gave me one and I was thrilled. But then he started flipping out if I didn’t respond to his beckons instantaneously. (First commenter to identify the origin of the following wins: “You’re fat….You’re ugly….You call me when I beep you.”) Then I learned he was married, at which point I sold the beeper and bought a cozy sweater to keep me warm in his stead.

How did you obtain the password to make changes to your boyfriend’s wireless account, by the way? You need to be 100% free of jealousy and possessiveness issues for this gift not to implode. Also, please keep in mind, any other week I’d be telling you straight out that nobody is issue-free and that the control-freak bell will ring in your boyfriend’s brain regardless–a little louder with each monthly installment.

At risk of screwing you over with my generosity of spirit, then, two more questions: Would he appreciate a texting upgrade from his best friend, and would he appreciate one from his mother?

If you answered yes to both, Happy Hanukkah (but keep an eye on his mother).





Dear Judith,

Every Hanukkah I get tons of gifts for my nieces and nephew. Shouldn’t my brother get something for my dog?

Have a great Hanukkah and get great gifts ;-),

Master Chief’s Dad

Dear “Dad”,

Of course he should. He simply forgot about your “child” because he has actual human kids, whose food and toys, not to mention clothing and education, cost a lot more and who can’t be dropped at a kennel on 24 hours’ notice. Let him know that Master felt excluded, and mention it again ahead of time next year. Children are greedy; for their sake I bet your brother throws you a bone.

Happy Hanukkah,


What do you think?

About The Author

Judith Basya

Judith Basya is Heeb's Literary Editor. She writes an advice column (and an advice blog: www.asktinymom.com) so her psychology degree doesn't go to waste. If your problem can be solved in <140 characters, she's on Twitter. If it's complicated, please email Judith @ Heebmagazine.com.

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