I Hate Thanksgivukkah

I hate Thanksgivukkah.

There, I said it.  Feels good.

For those wondering what I’m referring to, this is the only year for like a billion jillion years that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah will coincide.  So people have been really having a lot of fun with it, making videos, sharing recipes about how to combine the two holidays, etc.  It’s become a real trend.

Honestly, I feel pretty bad about this admission.  A lot of my blogging and online “colleagues” have been doing some of the above.  Some have asked me to share their stuff, and I feel so bad that I really really really don’t want to.  So, I hope one day they’ll forgive me for this blog post.

The interesting thing is that I’ve never been the kind of person to poo-poo something just because it’s popular.  I always hated when my friends (back when I had friends)  would say things like, “Oh man, I totally liked Green Day before they got popular.  Geesh.”

But this is different.

Funnily enough, though, I couldn’t figure out exactly why it was so different until quite recently.

See, during every Jewish holiday, if you’re like me and have a bunch of dorky orthodox friends, Facebook’s newsfeed fills up with these things called “d’var Torahs” (literally, “words of Torah”.  Meaning lessons about the holiday, basically).

I always got kind of bored with these things.  I mean, so many of them are the same things you hear every year.

Or if there aren’t dvar Torahs, there are just little nice thoughts about the holiday.  Thoughts like “Hanukkah taught me this, this, and this.”

And then you’d have those annoying bloggers who would share “10 Hanukkah Photos”.  Silly bloggers.

And, all that stuff, I just always got bored with a bit, as much as it was nice, as much as it was a reminder of the holiday coming up.

But this year, with Thanksgivukkah coming around, that changed for me.

Because Thanksgivukkah is perhaps the most empty, marketing-esque, diversionary thing I’ve ever witnessed orthodox Jews get so excited about.

It literally has no meaning.  When people write about it, it’s only in regards to the food.  Or trying to somehow find parallels between the pilgrims and the Maccabbees (the Indians were the victims, folks!).

There is literally no substance whatsoever to this discussion.  Literally nothing that will make you want to improve your life or change how you conduct yourself on a day to day level.  Nothing that will make you think.  It’s pure emptiness.  High fructose corn syrup.  Cotton candy.

But, interestingly enough, because of that emptiness, I had a realization about those “boring” dvar Torahs I would hear every year.

I suddenly missed them with all my heart.

Okay, perhaps they were repetitive.  Perhaps they were a bit dry.  Perhaps they weren’t all great works of creative genius.

But they had meaning.  They had substance.  If you really think about them, they will make you want to improve your life.

And that’s when I was finally reminded of why I had become an orthodox Jew.

For the meaning.

When I was young, as a secular Jew, holidays were “nice”.  They were moments to spend together with family and friends.  But there wasn’t ever any depth to them.  I’d learn a lesson or two.  But the lessons were empty.  Nowhere as deep as the Taoism I was learning.  Or the philosophy I studied.

I became an orthodox Jew when I realized just how deep these days could be.  When I realized that every moment is a chance to grow, everything we do, everything we read, everything we engage in, can be a chance to elevate the world as well as ourselves.  Every moment can have meaning.

So, it was interesting: the fact that Thanksgivukkah has bothered me so much has actually almost felt like a blessing.  It was a wake up call.  A reminder of why I’ve chosen to live life I’ve taken upon myself.

Because it can be so easy to take it for granted.  It can be so easy to complain about the little things.  The fact that its creativity still has so far to go.  The fact that it can be so hard to fit in if you’re a square peg.  And on and on.

There are things to complain about. Cultural things, things that aren’t the way we wish they would be.

But in a world where meaning is seen as secondary; where it’s more important that the creative world entertain us than change us; where holidays are more about culture than connecting with the deepness of the world; where Thanksgiving and Hanukkah could ever be seen as compatible…

I’m grateful for the life I chose.

So thank you, Thanksgivukkah, maybe you served a purpose after all.





9 responses to “I Hate Thanksgivukkah”

  1. Mimi Notik Hecht Avatar
    Mimi Notik Hecht

    Beautiful! I’m guilty as charged, but I totally get this. Definitely noticed a lack of Chanukah substance around me (though there’s more days without Thanksgiving to come! :)), will take this to heart.

  2. Chani Avatar

    I thought I was the only one! I love Chanukah as is, and combining it with Thanksgiving (while it’s “cute”), feels like watering down the yom tov to me :(. And PS – i love thanksgiving too!

    1. Rebecca K. Avatar
      Rebecca K.

      Totally agree. Although, I have noticed a big upside: some secular Jews who otherwise forget when Chanukah falls knew it this year…

  3. daniel.saunders Avatar

    Not being American, this whole thing seems bizarre to me. Even a non-Jewish American friend mentioned it to me in an email! I think more than anything it’s testimony to the secular nature of Thanksgiving in American culture (or secularized as it was originally religious) that even frum Jews think they can merge the two in a way that they would absolutely never suggest merging with other religious winter festivals that may sometimes be at the same time as Chanukah.
    Of course, the irony is that part of the message of Chanukah is about the halakhic limits of cultural interaction.

    1. Elad Nehorai Avatar

      Haha awesome, thanks for sharing. I’m not saying we shouldn’t connect the two, just that if we’re going to do it, let’s at least give it some meaning! So, thank you again 🙂

  4. Sam Litvin Avatar
    Sam Litvin

    Relax and enjoy it, it won’t happen again for 70,000 years. Not everything has to be so serious 🙂

    1. Elad Nehorai Avatar

      I keep trying to tell myself that, but I guess I’m just an inconsolable grouch.

      1. Sam Litvin Avatar
        Sam Litvin

        A Jewish hubris that is responsible for so many Jewish comedians.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *