I hate the name. It cheapens both Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, but there it is. The year that Hanukkah came early and Thanksgiving came late and worlds collided. I’m not really sure it’s that much of a collision, though. The traditional Thanksgiving, as I understand it, is a feast of gratitude for survival. It’s a celebration of life and living, and its hallmarks are food, family, and friends. Maybe this is too Charlie Brown, or too simplistic, but that’s how it is in my world.
To me, and this is my blog, so it’s my interpretation we’re going with here, it’s about getting up, watching the parade, cooking delicious food, eating early, drinking plenty of adult beverages, maybe watching football and maybe not, maybe going for a walk and maybe not, eating dessert later because right after the meal there’s just no room for it, and generally ending the evening on a good note with random family members and friends helping out in the kitchen.
Hanukkah isn’t a whole lot different, except that it’s more of a season and less of an event. Again, this is my interpretation. For a long time I was married to a man who was not Jewish. We did the whole Christmas thing, but we also included some Hanukkah in there. He’s out of the picture (more or less), but our son is not. There is also my sweetheart in the mix now, a man who loves Christmas, but was once married to a Jewish woman and now has me. He goes with the flow. The Hanukkah flow is generally something like this: one night (usually the first, but it depends on schedules) we have a traditional potato latke dinner, then light the candles and exchange some small gifts. Small. Like a magazine. A deck of cards. A flash drive. The other nights we usually light the candles (provided we get home at an early enough hour and don’t forget) and go about our business. One night we usually go to Mom’s house for the whole big dinner thing. That’s it. I love the candles. I love the latkes. I love the little gifts, but frankly they’re mostly for my son, and now that he’s older it’s hard to find 8 small things. I used to do dollar store stuff, but there’s no sense in buying stuff just to buy it.
The melding of these two holidays isn’t a bad thing at all. We eat, drink, and make merry in a spirit of gratitude surrounded by our families and friends. Who can argue with that, even if it does play havoc on the internal calendar? So I’m off to dust off the menorahs, line up the turkey baster, and pop the latkes in the oven. Oh, and I need to bake the cornbread for the stuffing and find the Hanukkah gift wrap. No problem. I’ve got this covered. Happy Holiday to you, whatever you may be celebrating.