The holidays are approaching at a moderate pace, and for most of you, that means getting ready for either Christmas or Hanukah. However, for me it means preparing for an interfaith royal rumble between the two.
You see, my father is Christian and my mother is Jewish. And although I was raised Jewish, there are two essential exceptions to my Judaism - I always have celebrated some form of Christmas, and I'm not that bad at sports. The truth is my family celebrates a strange blend of Christmas and Hanukkah, which we've lovingly termed "Chranukah."
Many people feel that families should not partake in interfaith holidays because they are confusing for young children. That's ridiculous. They're confusing for everyone. But I will admit it was a little strange growing up in an interfaith household. For example, do you realize how upset I was when I found out Santa Claus never goes to Synagogue?
Anyway, Chranukah is a simple holiday that is far superior to all other festivities with the exception of Kwanza. Here is the recipe to follow to create a Chranukah of your own.
Step 1: Take two parts Christmas and one part Hanukah and stir together until you have a thick greenish paste.
Step 2: Drop in a fat man with a beard and a red suit who seems to have no religious affiliation whatsoever. If he struggles, you can bind his arms and legs together with red and green licorice for a charming holiday feel.
Step 3: Purchase the smallest Christmas tree you can find and decorate it with strange secular ornaments that are far from religiously threatening. For example, (and I'm not making this up) every year my family hangs a small plastic buffalo on the tree with the other ornaments. We don't know what collection of toys it originally belonged to or where it came from, but the buffalo seems happy to be included in the holiday festivities. Plus, it creates a comfortable atmosphere for Jews and Christians alike because if there is one thing everybody can agree on, it's the charming nature of buffalo.
Step 4: Sing both Christmas and Hanukah songs throughout the holidays. For those of you who don't know any Jewish songs, three popular ones are "Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel," "It's Christmas Day, and we're the only ones at the movie theater" and "Who's up for Chinese food?"
Step 5: If you are recovering from chronic alcohol addiction, you can call the holiday "Chronica" and celebrate your recovery. (Helpful tip: Eggnog should not be served at this version of Chranukah.)
My Chranukah last year went quite well. My entire family enjoyed themselves to the point of dizziness and there was more than enough gifts, food, good cheer and strong alcohol to go around (not necessarily in that order). The Christmas tree we purchased, which looked more like a slightly over-grown Chia Pet, was adorned with strange ornaments that made the little tree look schizophrenic, or at least very unsure of its religious affiliation. But you can't forget, it's the thought that counts. And that thought is: What religion am I?
Last year my younger brother even bought a pair of toy glasses that, when worn, make certain lights appear to be Jewish stars. As Harry Potteresque as that sounds, I swear it's true. We discovered that the glasses worked perfectly on all the Christmas lights on our tree. We all took turns viewing the magical tree covered in stars of David. The transformation with the glasses perfectly symbolized our holiday celebration. "Hey look, there are Jewish stars everywhere. What a Jewish celebration we have here!" Then with the glasses off, "Just kidding. Not much Judaism here. Merry Christmas!"
The truth is, Christmas and Hanukkah fit together well because they have a lot in common. They both involve lights, presents and decorations. Really, the only difference is that for Christmas the presents are delivered by an obese man you've never met before who breaks in through the chimney, whereas at Hanukkah the presents are delivered by an obese man you've been living with your entire life.
You haven't really lived until you've experienced at least one Chranukah. It's a meaningful holiday that leaves the whole family feeling warm and schfutzy inside. (I made up that Yiddish word, but it sounds authentic, doesn't it?)
No matter what you celebrate, have a great holiday season. If you need me, I'll be cooking up some matzo ball soup for Santa.