“Thanksgivukkah” was the blended term bestowed to the first few nights of this year’s Hanukkah holiday here in the States given that it commenced over Thanksgiving Day and the following weekend for the first time since 1888 (and the next time a similar overlap is set to occur will be 2070). I loved it. I’ve been wishing folks a very “Merry Chrismukkah” and “Happy Hanumas” for years now (decades actually, my BFF from Jr. High can back me up here, too) as the overlap of Christmas and Hanukkah is much more likely to occur. So of course it was natural that when these two holidays overlapped that someone merged the greetings together as well.
And merge them we did, too! Last year at the end of the holiday season when I first heard about the early arrival of Hanukkah this year, I picked up a menorah at Target for around $10 (orig. $45). It plugs in and lights with the touch of a button (push the button 1-8 times depending on which of the eight days you’re celebrating), which is good as we’re not really Jewish (Recovering Catholics, actually) so I’d have no clue as to how to light a menorah properly or what to say while doing it. Though I did pick up a nice little activity book for T at Gelson’s that had the “Blessings on the Menorah” written out phonetically for me to fumble through (and my friend recommended this website with an audible reading of the blessings, which was even better!).
So why if we’re not Jewish are we even acknowledging Hanukkah let alone buying a menorah? It’s because many of our close friends happen to be celebrating, Jewish or not. In fact, many of the holiday parties we attend each season happen to be more Hanukkah than Christmas-centric. It’s just how it is, and it’s a-OK with us (um, latkes anyone?!). Seriously though, since we really don’t observe a specific religion in our own family, we are open to many of the traditions that other family and friends observe as a way to expose T to all different beliefs in a fun and educational rather than obligatory, ritualistic way.
On Sunday evening, we also attended Belmont Shore’s first public menorah lighting sponsored by Shul by the Shore in Long Beach and hosted by Citibank’s Belmont Shore branch. A crowd gathered in the bank’s parking lot on 2nd Street to light a large handmade wooden menorah built by congregation members and decorated by the kids of The Shul by the Shore’s Hebrew School programs. Some of the same children (including some of our friends) were present and led the crowd in traditional Hanukkah songs as community leaders helped light the candles (Sunday was Night Five). There were also small goody bags for the kids in attendance, and cookie decorating, jelly donuts, and snow cones for all ages.
I know not everyone observes Hanukkah, but to those celebrating and eating their way through this holiday period, I hope yours has been happy and filled with hope and light. And tasty treats, too!