By now, we've all heard the news. This year, the miracle of Chanukah is that it falls on Thanksgiving. On Nov 28, 2013, American Jews will be celebrating both holidays at once. Families and friends will gather together to commemorate the convergence of candles and cornucopia, Chanukah and Thanksgiving, dreidels and drumsticks. It'll be the festival of light... and dark meat.
Which is why I'm here to say: Bah Humbukkah! That's right. You heard me. Bah Humbukkah! I for one will not be participating in this mashed potato latke mashup. For me, it's Chanukah or nothing. Go latke or go home.
Chanukah/Hanukkah/Hanukah has always suffered from an identity crisis. What's the proper spelling of its name? Will it get a song in the holiday concert? Why do grocery stores insist on putting matzah next to the chocolate gelt every December? And now we're just piling on poor Chanukah's tsouris.
This mighty celebration has been swept aside. It's no longer good enough to be a holiday about Maccabee madness and eight-day oil. Apparently, the miracle of Chanukah isn't sufficiently miraculous these days. This year, it's all about the miracle of calendar convergence. It's all "Thanksgivukkah this" and "not for another 70,000 years that." There's nothing about plain old Chanukah, nothing about the small band of brothers who beat the big Syrian army. Who can retell the things that befell us? No one! Everyone's too busying retelling the story of Thanksgivukkah.
Thanksgivukkah is the bell of the Matzah Ball. It's everywhere: The Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, and the Chicago Tribune. The Today Show and The Colbert Report have given it air time. BuzzFeed links have gone viral; it even has its own Facebook page. And according to People magazine, it's dating Adam Levine.
Pop culture has welcomed Thanksgivukkah with open arms. You can buy hipster T-givukkah T-shirts, you can light candles in your Menurkey, and soon we'll all be sipping Starbucks new sufganyot-spiced lattes while watching President Obama pardon a Kosher turkey. Thanksgivukkah has become the "It" celebration of the year. And it's left poor Chanukah in its wake.
Take Chanukah's festive food. Potato latkes with applesauce and sour cream have been replaced with sweet potato latkes with cran-applesauce and marshmallow cream. Jelly-filled donuts have been upgraded to cranberry-filled Cronuts. Pinterest is packed with recipes for cornbread challah, pumpkin rugelach, and butternut squash blintzes. Even the main course is getting in on the extreme makeover act. I heard John Madden is trading in his traditional Thanksgiving Day Turkucken for a Thanksgivukkah Tralatlach (turkey, stuffed with latkes, stuffed with kreplach.)
For centuries, Chanukah's tried to forge its own identity in the midst of Christmas hullabaloo and New Year's hoopla. Our Chanukah candles get out-Grizwald by Christmas lights, our dreidels are out done by mistletoe, and Rudolph trumps Chanukah Harry hands down. But not this year. In 2013, Christmas isn't overshadowing Chanukah. Stockings haven't bested kippahs. But it's not because Chanukah is finally being recognized as the amazing independent holiday it is; it's because instead of lumping Chanukah in with Christmas we're merging it with Thanksgiving. This poor holiday doesn't get any respect.
So like the Maccabees of yore, it's time for Chanukah to stand up for itself. It doesn't need to sponge off of Thanksgiving's success. Yes, Thanksgiving has Black Friday. But Chanukah has Sisterhood Gift Fairs -- and no one can beat their doorbuster deals on tchotchkes. Sure, Thanksgiving has fantasy football, but Chanukah has fantasy dreidel. Who took Shin in the draft? And, yes, the first day of Chanukah collides with Thanksgiving. But what about Chanukah's other seven days? What are they? Chopped (turkey) liver? It's time to put the Chan back in nukkah! Or is it time to add the ukkah back in Chanugiving? Or is it time to put the ing back in Thanksgiving... oh, you know what I mean.
In fairness, Thanksgivukkah isn't all bad. It's put the spotlight on a Chanukah filled with thankfulness, fantastic fundraisers for charities, and gifts that give back. But what happens to these mitzvot when Chanukah falls nowhere near turkey day? Will we continue to donate Chanukah profits to charity? Will we use the holiday to show how thankful we are for our friends, families, and pretty great lives? Perhaps that's the real issue. Not that we're doing so many innovative things for Thanksgivukkah this year, but that we should be doing them for every Chanukah every year. The holiday of Chanukah deserves that. Perhaps Thanksgivukkah will lead to new Chanukah traditions involving thankfulness, gratefulness, and picking eight things we'll take time to appreciate in the coming year. Perhaps that's the real miracle of Thanksgivukkah.
So fine, I'll take back my Bah Humbukkah... for now. But don't get me started on Sukkot-o-ween.