The closest to Normal (Illinois) that I've ever been.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Worst Chanukah ever

I am not amused. I knew that Normal was not cosmopolitan, but so far, I have been able to find pretty much what I needed. However, I have been struggling to find clothes that fit. My jeans are wearing out and I don't have appropriate winter outerwear. I have been everywhere all over town looking for Levi's 515 or 505 size 2 jeans. These jeans are available at any discount store and mall, but inexplicably, only size 4 and up. I finally broke down and bought the smallest pair of size 4s that I could find, and everywhere I go, the crotch of my pants is sagging, and I am constantly yanking up the back of my jeans and adjusting my underwear.

Unattainable jeans

I also can't find a winter coat that's warm enough. Every women's coat that I have tried on is too large. I am currently wearing a neon-pink coat from the junior's section, but it is not warm enough. I ordered a coat from Land's End, but my virtual model tells me that the smallest women's coat that they have will be a "poor fit" for me.

My Land's End "virtual model" dressed for a Hellinois winter

Today I had one of those days that makes me realize that I am NOT like everyone else, and in fact, I was crediting the people around me with much more cultural understanding and sensitivity than they actually have. In Riverside there was a general feeling of multi-culturalism: stores carried all kinds of random things, and people were vaguely familiar with a variety of different cultural practices. There aren't many Jewish people in Normal. However, I figured that because they all have television, they had probably seen some Jewish people and had some passing familiarity with the Jewish holidays. I was wrong. We just got the schedule for the multicultural festival at Joseph's school--it is basically Christmas around the world. No Chanukah, no Kwanza, just Christmas. I volunteered to do a little presentation on Chanukah for Joseph's class-- I am used to the kids being the token Jewish kids in their classes, but not the only Jewish kids in the entire school.

Sam and Joseph?

We don't have enough candles for the whole holiday, so today I went out to try to find Chanukah candles. I went to Target, Kroger, Meijer, WalMart, KMart, Schnucks, Walgreens, Jewel-Osco, The Party Store, Hobby Lobby and World Market and did not find a single piece of evidence of Chanukah at all.

Unattainable candles

I went into Borders, and I only found ONE BOOK on Chanukah in the entire store. In the clearance rack was a stack of books called "Chanukah, Schmanukah" in which a JEWISH SCROOGE learns the true meaning of Chanukah. What kind of idiot publisher would think that Jewish people would buy a Scrooge story?

"Offensive and weird"

Although Hobby Lobby had no Chanukah supplies, they did have "Multicultural markers"-- a set of markers in a rainbow of human skin colors. I suspect that multiculturalism around here is like a rainbow of otherwise identical paper dolls. It is OK for people to look different, as long as they don't actually try to act different.

At every store, I would have to ask someone if there was a Chanukah section. It was very awkward. At Jewel-Osco, the guy answered, "Chanukah? Is that a kind of liquor?"


When I asked people where they might recommend that I look for Chanukah candles, two different people told me to try various stores "because they had Jewish ties." I think that this means that (a) the store/chain is Jewish-owned, (b) people may not know what Chanukah is, but they sure do keep track of which businesses are owned by Jews.

Jewish ties?

I am also infuriated by the fact that everything around here is Seasons Greetings this and Happy Holidays that. Presumably, this is an effort to acknowledge other cultural traditions. However, there is no evidence of any other holidays around here, so they should just give it up and stop pretending.
I miss Christmakwanzahanukah.


Beth said...

Oh Honey, I am so sorry about your troubles. Could you order your jeans online? Also, it used to be that the one place that we could get candles for Hannukah was in the little gift shop at the synagogue. Do they even have one of those?

Susan said...

Hi Beth,
The jeans were not available online anywhere including the Levi's website, but some good news: I emailed customer support last week and they just sent me info about a site that sells size 2.
I am a little scared of the local synagogue. First, I am married to a non-Jew, second, I have done a pretty lame job of Jewish education for my kids and third, the membership fee is $600 a year. I think that I will try to whittle down some larger candles, and remember to plan better next year.
Thanks for the support!

Not the only Jew at Yale, but the poorest one said...

I wish it WAS a kind of liquor, because it would come in a little bottle, but you could drink it for 8 days, and never run out!

Anonymous said...

Dude, Just be Normal! HA HA Ha