Thanksgivukah. Everyone is talking about it. For the first time since 1888, Chanukah, which is usually in December, is taking place at the exact time as Thanksgiving. It is definitely a “once in a lifetime” experience, as the next time this happens will not be until 2070, then again in 2165, and then again in 76,695!
Those of you who have been reading my column for years know that Chanukah is our favorite holiday – we have a lot of family traditions and we do it up big. Thanksgiving is our family’s second favorite holiday, also filled with tradition and things we enjoy. My head is saying “let’s view it as being a unique and special kind of holiday and aren’t we lucky that we get to experience this once in our lives?” But my heart is saying “this is not fair, I want our two separate holidays with all of our customs and traditions; I don’t want to combine them!”
The Thanksgivukah craze has descended. Stores have gone crazy, featuring versions of turkey shaped menorahs, greeting cards, decorations and anything else they can think of to capitalize on this phenomenon. Restaurants and gourmet take out establishments are advertising challah stuffed turkeys, sweet potato latkes and other crossovers combining the foods of the two holidays. We have already received two invitations to two combined Thanksgiving/Chanukah get-togethers.
In some ways, the two holidays are not that different from one another. They both involve a lot of food that is integral to the celebration. Both focus on family and friends spending time together. Even the basic stories can be related to each other – the Maccabees and the Pilgrims actually have a lot in common. They both overcame a struggle and were both thankful and appreciative for that.
As I write this column, a mere five to six weeks before the holiday, I am still unsure as to how our family will proceed and can think of more questions than answers. Should we put up our fall and Thanksgiving decorations and then take them down quickly Friday morning to put up the Chanukah decorations, or should we leave them all up together? Should I do all the gift shopping early (before the sales) and have everything wrapped and ready to go as usual, or should we wait and go Black Friday shopping together and let everyone buy their own presents? Should I buy into the hype and send Thanksgivukah photo cards or hold off and do “holiday” cards a bit later? Should we go on the weeklong trip we had planned for Thanksgiving week, ending with celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with family in Arizona and risk missing out on the Chanukah celebrations with friends and our community that are sure to take place here at home or revise our trip plans?
You can see that I’m not 100-percent on board with this whole thing, but clearly no one asked me. I’m a “one at a time holiday” kind of gal, enjoying the decorating, special foods and our traditions separately and individually. Loving the “holiday season,” I’ve always hated it when Chanukah ends before school even gets out for the winter break, because we are completely done with our holiday before anyone else’s really begins. Additionally, it is much harder to celebrate Chanukah because everyone is busy with school, homework, work and other activities. There’s little I hate more than having to quickly cram in our Chanukah candle lighting, book reading, song singing, gift opening and treat enjoying into a few short minutes before bed because that was the only time everyone was home and available.
That could be one silver lining in the cloud of Thanksgivukah: at least we have a few days of Chanukah where we will be out of school and work, less busy and can celebrate fully. In any case, we will be thankful for our many blessings – at Thanksgiving, at Chanukah and even at Thanksgivukah. And the good news is, in 2014, Chanukah doesn’t begin until December 16!