June 20, 2024
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June 20, 2024
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We’re Not That Close

Welcome back to “How Should I Know?”—the column that puts the “tiff” in “Yuntiff.”

Dear Mordechai,

How can I tell my sister to watch how much cake she consumes on Yom Tov without hurting her feelings?


Dear Anonymous,

Make the food sound as unappealing as possible. For example, my wife has a recipe for chocolate muffins that contain zucchini. They’re pretty good, but they don’t sound good at all if you’ve never tasted them. So lead with that. “Would you like some chocolate zucchini muffins?”

“Ew, what’s in them?”

“I don’t know. Chocolate zucchinis?”

And if you’re not willing to put vegetables in your chocolate cake on religious grounds, then just put in regular ingredients but play up the unappealing ones. Say things like, “Would you like some baking-powder muffins?” or “Would you like some vegetable-oil muffins?”

I hope my answer stopped you from eating cake over Yom Tov too. You totally deserved that.

Dear Mordechai,

What should I do if my kids don’t want to go to my parents for Yom Tov and only want to go to my in-laws?


Dear D.,

Invite your parents to come to your in-laws.

OK, just kidding.

Thanks for coming to me with this question, by the way. I’m sure your spouse’s answer to this was not helpful at all.

First you have to understand why your children don’t want to go to your parents. After all, they get excited when your parents come to visit. So what’s the difference?

The difference is that kids love their grandparents, but they don’t love their grandparents’ houses. Grandparents’ houses are like museums. You’re not allowed to touch anything, everything’s a million years old, and there’s no flash photography. And senior citizens get in free.

Your kids want to run around, but your parents aren’t interested in dealing with messes anymore because they kind of feel like they just recently got rid of you.

So how do you get around that? You have to talk to your kids. It’s a lot easier than talking to your parents about how they should put their vases away and buy some toys. I mean, they are buying toys, as gifts when they come over, and then you’re the one who has to figure out how to store those toys in your house. Why don’t they just buy the toys for their own house so the kids have something to play with?

It’s great that everyone puts you in the middle like this.

So my advice is to use your position to your advantage. Tell your kids that Bubby and Zaidy’s house really is fun. Tell them how much fun you used to have growing up there, and that you used to do a lot of crazy things. And when they ask what you did, tell them that one thing they can do over the course of Yom Tov is to ask Bubby and Zaidy to tell them some stories.

It’s a win-win. Your kids now have something to do, and your parents get to tell your kids stories about how insane you were as a kid. Your parents will see it as bonding with their grandchildren over something they have in common—you. And your kids get to see it as, “Wow! Bubby is giving us all these great ideas of destructive things to do in her house!” And when your kids do those things, your parents will have no one to blame but themselves.

Because apparently, you’re still insane; you just got more creative about it. And now you’re coming back with an army.

Have a question for “How Should I Know?” Tell your kids to ask Bubby and Zaidy. Then you can sneak off for a nap.

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published seven books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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