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It's Chrismukkah Time... Again

Review of Chrismukkah: Everything You Need to Know to Celebrate The Hybrid Holiday, by Ron Gompertz (Steward, Tabori and Chang, 2006).

Yikes--I thought we had disposed of this unappealing concept, first widely popularized in the television show "The O.C." Unfortunately, it's alive, well and now perpetuated in a new book titled Chrismukkah: Everything You Need to Know to Celebrate The Hybrid Holiday, by Ron Gompertz. The publishers, an imprint of Harry N. Abrams, Inc., normally specialize in high-color hardback books about homes and gardens, with the occasional lightweight humor book about a baseball team. But they've struck out with this one; its humor quickly wears thin and its smattering of sexist jokes and images is downright distasteful.

Let's start with the idea. When we last heard about it, it was trumpeted by Seth Cohen on "The O.C." as the solution for interfaith families. But Seth's television family, an interfaith family, was portrayed as having no faith at all. For them, Chrismukkah was a holiday without meaning, just a matter of what gift-wrap and music to choose, and how many days to give and get presents. Indeed, Chrismukkah is portrayed on "The O.C."as a holiday so dedicated to material consumption that no one bothers to consider what either holiday really signifies.

In Chrismukkah: Everything You Need to Know to Celebrate The Hybrid Holiday, that disregard for the history and meaning of the two holidays is similarly present. The Introduction comments:

. . . for the growing number of interfaith families whose living rooms sport both a menorah and a tree, Chrismukkah is a good solution to the so-called 'December Dilemma.' For we intermarried folk, Chrismukkah is a 'merry mish-mash.'

But how merry is it, when the entire meaning is lost? Chrismukkah provides a brief history of Christmas traditions but doesn't bother to do the same for Hanukkah. Aside from jokes, quizzes and pseudo-explanations, the book provides a few craft ideas (Matzo Bread House or Bagel Menorahment, anyone?) and recipes (Matza Pizza, Blitzen's Blintzes). Conversion of The Dreidel Song into a song about eating pork isn't likely to inspire singers in anyone's home. So what's the point of this book?

Save your holiday money. This one isn't funny and it doesn't add anything to an interfaith family's interest in finding a meaningful acknowledgement of traditions, rituals and beliefs. Whether or not Chrismukkah truly reflects the practice of any interfaith family, this particular book provides a powerful argument against blended holidays. Then again, we can only hope that that's the real message the author was trying to convey.

Hanukkah (known by many spellings) is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd Century BCE. It is marked by the lighting of a menorah and the eating of fried foods. Yiddish for "spin," a four-sided spinning top played with during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. Hebrew for "candelabrum" or "lamp," it usually refers to the nine-branched candelabrum that is lit for the holiday of Hanukkah. (A seven-branched candelabrum, a symbol of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, is a symbol of Judaism and is included in Israel's coat of arms.) Hebrew word for an unleavened bread, traditionally eaten during the holiday of Passover. Hebrew word for an unleavened bread, traditionally eaten during the holiday of Passover.
Cheryl F. Coon

Cheryl F. Coon is the author of Books to Grow With: A Guide to the Best Children's Fiction for Everyday Issues and Tough Challenges. Cheryl lives with her husband and children in Portland, Ore.

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