For the first time in over a hundred years (or 87k years, spending upon the article you read), hanukkah coincided with Thanksgiving this year, creating the much anticipated Jewish-American spectacle of Thanksgivukkah. I prefer to say Chanksgiving, but most non-jews (who I will call goyim, with no air of derision, but rather out of expediency) have a difficult time with the guttural sounds. Well, to keep it real, many Jews have a hard time with them as well.
Having Thanksgiving during the eight days of Hanukkah was wonderful! It was such a refreshing switch to the usual coincidence of Hanukkah and xmas. Our house is a kind of interfaith household. To be super realistic about it, we are a single faith family, as the only religion is Judaism. My wife is not Jewish, however, and although she is respectful, and helpful to an extent, of the Jewish practices–helping with Shabbat meals, doing holiday stuff at home, helping to keep kosher in the house with the exception of separate dishes and cookware–she really has no interest of her own. This time of the year, therefore, is all about the secular items of xmas: tree, lights, music, movies, presents; basically anything that has nothing at all to do with any kind of deity. On its face, this is what secular xmas is all about, but lurking behind the scenes however, are all kinds of references to fertility gods, demigods, and father-gods, stretching all the way back to mesopotamia! This is an extremely difficult thing for a Jew, who is trying to live torah to the best of his ability, to do while still being kind and true to those whom he loves and who love him.
So this year, Hanukkah didn’t have to compete with its usual rival–and lets face it, Thanksgiving is nowhere close to being competitive. We went to the house of some friends for Thanksgiving, and they came to our house the next night for…wait for it…Thanksgivukkabat! Thats right, that rare Jewish-American Holiday that rounds three holidays into one! We deep fried a turkey using the recipe from “the shiksa” (link at the end of post), and had some Traditional Shabbat and Thanksgiving trimmings to go along with it. It was wonderful!!!
So, you may be asking, “What does this have to do with shatnez?” Or first, “What the heck IS shatnez?” The second one I’ll answer first, without spending too much time on it: Shatnez is the mixture of wool and linen that the Torah commands us not to wear unless we are priests serving in the Holy Temple. Orthodox jews, therefore, are very stringent about mixed fiber clothing, and even have inspectors who will examine your clothing under a microscope for you to make sure that it is kosher. The only thing that this blog post actually has to do with shatnez though, is that there was a part of a video that I watched recently, where an orthodox woman is in Walmart singing, “Its beginning to look a lot like shatnez,” and then complaining about having all the goyishe tunes stuck in her head. Immediately following thanksgiving, my wife began playing xmas music and movies. This wouldn’t be such a big deal, if not for the longevity of the binges. It seems, sometimes, that there can be no respite from xmas–even in one’s own home!
As you read in my “about” page (you read that first, right?), I didn’t grow up Jewish. I used to enjoy xmas music and movies very much…in moderation. Years ago, we lived in New Hampshire, and the oldies station there–the one station I could stand listening to–would play xmas music, 24 hours a day, from thanksgiving to new years! Some days, I hoped for temporary deafness to set in, G-d forbid. I can handle the occasional song or movie, but not hours on end. After that, I end up being like the woman in the youtube video, with, “all these goyishe songs stuck in my head all day long.” And just to be clear, there are very few songs or types of music that I am ok losing so much mental control to!
Will we all make it through? Will there be any nervous breakdowns?! Stay tuned for the finale–over the next 15-20 days that is–to find out! And until then, just remember…
Most of these “goyishe” songs were written by Jews! “Oy vey!”