Our house almost burned down this week. Twice.
Okay, “almost” is maybe being a bit generous. But for two days in a row — the third and fourth nights of Hanukkah, to be exact — I rushed into the dining room where just moments earlier my family had lit the menorah, only to find flames lapping up a pizza box, and then a bundle of wrapping paper, both of which my younger son had shoved into the holiday candles and then left to burn on the table. “Festival of lights” indeed.
Fortunately, both conflagrations were caught and contained well before things burned out of control, and I’m pleased to report that it’s been almost half a week since there’s been an attempted arson in my home. Truly, it’s a Hanukkah miracle.
Hanukkah is unique because it’s a holiday that necessitates an open flame and, accordingly, assumes all the associated risks thereof. But the truth is all holidays — Hanukkah, Christmas, Samhain, Kwanza, you name it — are a high wire act, ripe for catastrophe and embarrassment. So, with Hanukkah almost in our rearview mirror, and Christmas fast approaching, let’s all commiserate over our worst holiday disasters. Maybe your uncle drank too much nog and barfed on the cat at xmas dinner. Maybe you ruined Thanksgiving by accusing your Reaganite parents of being fascists sometime between your third and fourth helping of pie. Whatever the cataclysm or fiasco, if it happened during a holiday – any holiday — please share it with the class, so we can all feel a little better about our own celebratory fiascos.