Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"The Mensches Are Nocturnal!"

Since I am Christian and Dave is Jewish and we are raising the kids in both faiths, it means that we have to make some compromises when it comes to celebrating holidays. One of the compromises I've made is having our Christmas focus on the birth of Jesus and not on Santa Claus. Obviously Jesus' birth is the reason for Christmas, and it helps to explain why Jews don't celebrate it. Most of the time this is not a hard compromise to make. However, I was a little sad to miss out on the fun of "Elf On The Shelf" although I do think an elf reporting your every move to Santa is a little creepy :)

One year when I was reading Kelly's Korner's blog, she hosted a Show Us Your Life on Holiday Traditions, and some Jewish readers shared about "Mensch On The Mantle." It is a similar idea to Elf On The Shelf, but it shows how kids can become "mensches" throughout the year. "Mensch" is a Yiddish word which means "a person of honour and integrity." I LOVED this because it teaches our kids great things. Who doesn't want to raise kids who have integrity and are honourable?

So last year we used some marionettes we had on hand. Dave HATED trying to pose them each night (they were pretty floppy) and so we knew we needed to have something new for this year. But then Chanukah ended and we forgot. Until the night before the first night of Chanukah this year. (Our mensches show up every morning and try to represent something we will be doing to celebrate Chanukah that night.)
So on the morning of the first night, the mensches left a note with a toy. They said the toy was to donate to a toy drive event we were going to that night, and that the mensches were going to be "out in the community" and the kids would need to find them.

So after our community celebration of "Chanukah In The Square" we went to Toys R Us and bought the mensches. We were hoping to find a boy and a girl doll but Toys R Us does not sell boy dolls. (That is what the salesperson told us when we asked.) So we ended up buying these "Disney My First Prince and Princess" dolls. Eric and Ariel were the least prince and princess looking. Ha! And "Eric" and "Ariel" aren't too unusual for Hebrew names. Not like Cinderella or Prince Charming for instance! And since the kids don't know Disney movies, they didn't know the difference.
This night my parents were arriving so the kids learned that mensches are welcoming!
Mensches are also thankful, as that night Sam had to make cards for all his teachers.
After a few days, Sam announced, "The Mensches are nocturnal!" and decided they would need to sleep during the day. So after that, every morning, the kids tucked Eric and Ariel into sleeping bags so they could rest during the day. Some days Eric and Ariel needed a cup of tea and a cookie before bed. This made me laugh so hard!!!
Mensches also keep traditions, by lighting Chanukah candles.
And finally, mensches enjoy spending time with family.

I didn't get a picture of the mensches every day, and some days the mensches had to do some quick work before the kids discovered them, but every morning the kids really enjoyed finding the mensches and learning about what they were doing.

So I'm really glad we have a good tradition, and am so thankful for the person who first started doing this. Now of course you can buy a "Mensch on the Bench" but I think Eric and Ariel will work just fine for us. As long as the kids never see "The Little Mermaid" of course!


  1. I absolutely love that you have kept this as a tradition and that you didn't buy the on on the bench!

    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment! I definitely liked the idea of finding our own Mensches rather than what everyone else had. And this is a tradition that will continue for many years to come in our family. We just love it!

  2. I love this idea! I'm a little torn about the Elf on the Shelf too. It looks like fun, but I think you capture that with the Mensch on the Bench. =)

  3. This is such a neat idea!!!

  4. I love this idea! And I especially love them both tucked into their beds during the day - too funny!

    1. The way Sam and Rachel took care of the mensches made me laugh so much!!! It was really cute :)

  5. I really do love this idea. I can see the difficulty of doing the "elf' thing if you choose to not use Santa. I don't like everything about the elf and try not to use him as a tool to "bribe" my kids into being good. He is just a fun addition to the month of December in our house. I really want Christmas to focus as much as possible on the real reason for the season. I like the idea of mensches who teach and inspire such wonderful qualities. And you know, I think Eric and Ariel make cute mensches. That is definitely one of my favorite Disney movies so I also wouldn't mind Rachel and Sam watching it someday. :-)

  6. I love this and can't wait to do it myself next year.

    And Ariel actually is a Hebrew name. It actually means Lion of G-d. Of course it's my middle name, so I'm a little more familiar with it than most!


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