Monday, December 10, 2012

On The Twelfth Night Of Hanukkah....

Latke making with my friend Mindy
We go both ways in the Kargas family home. That's right. Christmas AND Hanukkah. Can you guess which holiday is most popular amongst the munchkins? I'll give you a hint-it involves a fat man who is some sort of recluse in the North Pole.  Chopping down a beautiful tree, then rearranging your entire living room to make room for it. There are also lots of cookies involved, and fruitcake. Yeah. Fruitcake.

Christmas always wins. I don't blame the boys, it's pure magic. The lights, the music, the food, the anticipation, the absolute gluttony.

First night of Hanukkah
Hanukkah is so much more restrained. Kid's don't care much for lighting a few candles and eating potato pancakes. To be honest I could pass on latkes any day. Sure we do presents, but only one a day if you are lucky. There is no mad frenzy of unwrapping dozens of gifts at dawn. There are no inspiring Hanukkah movies, no stories of flying reindeer and tiny elves feverishly building toys. There is religion and (in my opinion) bad food.

Hanukkah cannot compete and the kids know it. They taunt me with it. "My FAVORITE holiday is Christmas!" Followed by Easter. No mention of Hanukkah, Passover or even Purim. But I try. I do.

We usually have some sort of Hanukkah party, passing out "gelt" (chocolate coins), opening gifts and muddling through a few games of dreidel. We own a beautiful menorah. We slather potato pancakes with applesauce to try and make them appealing. (Hey it's better then fruitcake!)

The boys know they are Jewish, but also celebrate secular versions of Christmas and Easter. I'm aware that it can be confusing and sometimes they get mixed up. Just yesterday in the car the "Twelve Days of Christmas" came on the radio. "This is a nice song" Evan announced. "Is it a Hanukkah song?" Not quite son. The "Christmas" part  should have given it away.

I did not celebrate Christmas as a child. I never believed in Santa Clause, and admit, I felt cheated. I am cognisant of the fact that the way we acknowledge the holidays may offend some. There are Jews who are disgusted that I allow a Christmas tree in my home. There are Christians who are appalled that we forgot the "Christ" in Christmas. Honesty, we mean no harm and do not wish to be disrespectful. My husband and I are simply celebrating the traditions that we both grew up with. We are not religious people, however we find value and joy in bringing the ritual of Hanukkah and Christmas to our own family.

Thus, we light our Menorah in the presence of our glittering Christmas tree. We play Bing Crosby's holiday hits while unwrapping our Hanukkah gifts. It's about tradition. It's about magic, joy, charity and family. It's our celebration.

Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday.

Merry Hanukkah!
Happy Christmas!


  1. Beautiful. What an absolutely beautiful way to describe your observance of both holidays. Thank you for sharing. I'm battling with my daughter this week to remind her - battling sounds hard and harsh, but I'm really TRYing - that it's CHANUKAH now. And Christmas not yet! Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season. :> Oh, and I LOVE me some latkes. But my dad was a Kosher caterer when we were growing up, so we always got good stuff!

  2. Since a Christmas tree is part of an old pagan tradition, why not have one for the season? :-) Santa and his elves aren't very Christian in my opinion, either! And if anyone Jewish gives you a hard time, just say you save it for REAL holy days.

    Yes, I'm chuckling to myself as I write this.

  3. I think it's perfect! Besides, what I see is a whole lot of FAMILY TIME which is awesome! (And I happen to love potato pancakes!) :)