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A New Tale for Hanukkah: The Legend Continues

Several years back, a mixed group of writer friends was discussing religion, when someone whimsically bemoaned that Christmas got all the good colors, while Hanukkah was pretty much stuck with blue and white.
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This column was originally published on December 21, 2006. It has been repeated annually as a result of requests and despite attempts to get restraining orders.

Several years back, a mixed group of writer friends was discussing religion, when it veered off track a bit. "A bit" as in, someone whimsically bemoaned that Christmas got all the good colors, while Hanukkah was pretty much stuck with blue and white.

I'm guessing that this wasn't the kind of debates Spinoza or Moses Maimonides ever got into. Though you never know.

Another person decided to raise the holiday spirits, suggesting that since there was an actual, physical limit of primary colors in the world, and therefore nothing could be done about that at this point, perhaps instead a new fable could be created. A few days later, this second fellow and his writing partner came up with the Twin Dalmatians of Hanukkah, Pincus and Mordecai. The pups scour the earth to bring hats of joy, filled with treats, to the children on the first night of Hanukkah. Pincus, the cheerful one, would load them up with tasty goodies, while practical Mordecai with a bell on his collar would leave practical gifts, like slide-rules.

The benefits of this new legend were clear to see. For one, it meant that that you could add a whole new color scheme to the Hanukkah celebration palate for displays across the land and trimmings in stores everywhere - black and white, the Dalmatian decorations! And also, Pincus and Mordecai "pug helpers" would prance throughout shopping centers to the joy and happy laughter of those with childhood in their hearts. And of course, when you're competing with Rudolph, Frosty, the Little Drummer Boy, Scrooge, Magi, Santa, and so many more, it never hurts to have as many fables as possible to pass down through the generations.

He and his writing partner wrote a few verses to show what he meant, but I thought an unfinished poem was no way to celebrate the festive and sacred season of holidays, and therefore completed it, into the semi-beloved, holiday quasi-epic it ultimately became.

Like all good stories of the season, this one ends with a miracle. That writing team went on to create several TV series. So, it's good to know that poetry and warm spirit in their hearts (along with a touch of lunacy in their heads) had such a positive impact on their lives. They also now have a reputation to protect and shall remain nameless. My gift to them - and their insistence to me.

Since 'tis the season, then 'tis appropriate to finally bring the story out of its dusty pages where it has annually passed from glowing face to glowing face of the few lucky children to hear it told, and now present the new fable to the world.

Okay, maybe there haven't been all that many glowing faces, but it's the holiday season and time of miracles, so anything's possible.



'Twas the night before Hanukkah,
And all through the shul,
Not a creature was stirring,
The meshpocheh was full
With latkes and brisket
And kugel and more.
Through the heads of the kinder
Spun dreidles galore.

But I in my yalmulka,
And she in her wig,
Settled down in our beds
With warm milk (but no pig).
When up on the roof
I heard such a bark
That I yelled "Oy, gevalt"
(To the goyim that's "Hark").

And I knew with a jingle,
Then a second great "woof,"
That jolly ol' Pincus
Was up on our roof.
Though t'wasn't just Pincus,
But Mordecai too,
The Hanukkah Puppies--
Those Dalmatian Jews.

So I sprang to my feet
And quick threw on a shmotta.
And I saw our kids' hats
Were now filled with a lotta:
With toys and candy from Pincus
And from Mordecai, socks.
And for me and the Mrs.
Some bagels and lox.

The dogs silently worked,
As if studying Torah
(Though Pincus got playful).
Mordecai lit the menorah.
Then straight up the chimney
Pincus leapt from the floor.
Mordecai politely
Went out the front door.

It's hard to explain
The joyous nakhes I felt
As I saw the Dalmatians
Go to hand out more gelt.
And I heard Pincus bark,
"Kids can have all they want if."
"Happy Hanukkah," said Mordecai.
"And to all a Good Yontif."