Gift of The Majorly Guilted

by Marnie Macauley December 4, 2017


Asian woman covers his ears with her hands

Shalom, San Diegans: Today we deal with culture and yes, Hanukkah. Well, a gift. How can a Hanukkah gift be a problem? What? A dreidel refuses to spin? Ah, but since political correctness has “solved” the alleged “HvC” (Hanukkah v. Christmas) kinder-envy many a Jewish family today spends real gelt on gifts so heaven forbid our loved ones don’t develop a strange aversion to melting wax. But first, we start with culture: parents at war with their teens over what each considers an offense to music. Let’s look.


Dear MARNIE: How do we deal with teens that think any music before 2000 is ancient, geeky, and should be burned? On the other hand we feel the same about their idea of music. It sounds like hell screaming back at us! – Family Fugue 

MARNIE SAYS: No doubt while Mom and Pop Ug were roasting a Tyrannosaurus leg, their teen Ug was doing the popular “Rockaroundtherock,” which created the very first instance of “family dysfunction.” I still remember my parents building a bomb shelter after seeing Elvis gyrate on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” They were sure this was the start of an Apocalypse. You see, my “fuguing” family, that’s the deal. It’s the job of the young to experiment. Then it’s the job of the parents to declare culture dead.

It’s not. You see it’s from some of this cacophony that new art and soul is born, tweaked, matured, and yes, made legendary.

Once a week, agree to hear all their blasts from Nas (rap) to Mika (pop), to Radiohead, to Lady Gaga. (A little Manischewitz wouldn’t hurt.)

Then, it’s your turn. Don’t yell, show and tell! Ask your teens to listen to your faves for an hour – each week. Then explain the whats, hows and wherefores of this music.

THE FACTS. (Trust me, mamalas, you’ll love this.) Teach them the following through listening:

• Mika – “Grace Kelly” echoes Rossini – “Largo Al Factotum” from The Barber of Seville.

• Radiohead – “Exit Music For A Film”
– Chopin from Prelude No. 4 in E Minor

• Lady Gaga – “Bad Romance”—Bach from The Well Tempered Clavier

• Elvis Presley – “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” – Martini from Plaisir D’Amour (a personal fave I was taught at three.) UB40 would end up borrowing the tune

• Procul Harum – “A Whiter Shade of Pale” – Bach from Air on a G String

• Barry Manilow – “Could It Be Magic” – Chopin from Prelude in C Minor

• Nas – “I Can” – Beethoven from Für Elise (who among us who had a piano lesson didn’t play this … over and over?)

Are we happy? Oh yes. Then run to rent Mr. Holland’s Opus and watch it together. And once again you shall see that “everything old is new again.” And if all else fails, confine your listening pleasure to padded walls and invest in a good set of head phones.


DEAR MARNIE: For Hanukkah, my mother-in-law bought us something truly ugly. A painting I hate. It’s modern, and our (first) house is trendy but traditional. Marnie, I have spent a great deal of effort making it exactly perfect. Each piece has been selected with exquisite care. Since my mother-in-law carried on about how much she paid for it, my husband thinks it would be rude not to hang it, although he doesn’t like it either. I’d love to return it and get a credit. Am I awful? What do you say? — Picture Imperfect

MARNIE SAYS: Alevai! And now we know why Jewish holidays don’t involve big giftees? A dreidel collection, trust me, it’s much safer. Or a check. That said, onto “business” — that painting. A word to all my readers. For this I went to Columbia Graduate School. Ready? DON’T BUY PAINTINGS FOR OTHER PEOPLE. Phew. Now you.

Agree with your husband to lose the picture. (Happy angel?) Here’s why. If you don’t, you’ll be forced to shlep it to and from the garage every time you see the lady through your candle-stained peephole. (Horrors!) Also, you sound a trifle … persnickety. Right-shmight. Hang the painting and it will pummel your pupils. So, it goes.

Agree not to sneak back to store and get a credit. It’s cruel, it’s tacky, and besides, she’ll notice. Think Motive: Hers. Psssst. Are we alone? Good. She, knowing you, may be testing and even waiting to be insulted – to prove your pickiness to her immediate public. (Signs, posters, letters, yes, but who buys a painting for Hanukkah?) Therefore, your M.O. must be faultless. Say, “Wow! Ma. You noticed we needed a painting over the china closet. How thoughtful and generous!” Once you reward her sensitivity, the matter of “taste” becomes a bit easier to whack. Tell her you loved her idea so much that to honor her intention the painting should be absolutely perfect for the china closet! Which it is — almost — if two white dots went with your custom ebony Annie Sloan. Suggest that the three of you (husband rides gunshot) choose The Most Perfect Painting together that you will cherish almost as much as you do her splendid gesture. 

Then do something for her to make the last sentence come true, admirably. A lunch (think buffet) … a rose – apricot. Done. You’ve gotten rid of the painting, made your MIL (and her son) feel like a million, and did it all like a true mensch! Α


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