Guest Post: "Miraculous: Making a (list within a) List and Checking it Twice (oh, wait, Christmas, you're not invited)"
On November 28, 2013, a holiday comes along that's literally once in a several lifetimes. The day is so grand, so enigmatic, that it has the potential to diminish the light of all other holidays by comparison—and not just because it includes eight nights' worth of candles.
Thanksgivvukah. You’ve seen it trending on Buzzfeed, you’ve worried about the inevitable comas when turkey and latke meet their (nondenominational) maker in your family’s stomachs. Despite its spectacular hybrid roots, Thanksgivvukah has more potential than ever for that all-too-familiar horror: family drama. To make the most of the day, and to keep our elders vaguely in their (drunken, overly nostalgic) place, we must go to our elders to hear their stories so we do not fail this novel occasion. I bring to you the ghosts of "The OC" past—keynote holiday scholar, Seth Cohen, in particular—to advise us how to make this holiday live up to its miraculous hype.
- You can have your potatoes and eat them too.
At the introduction of Chrismukkah, we all remember Seth setting Ryan up. With a menorah in one hand and a candy cane in the other, Seth demands, "What will it be, Hannukah or Christmas?" This terrible question is followed immediately by the reassuring statement that Ryan doesn't have to choose after all.
The same is true for Thanksgivukkah. Sweet potatoes? Mashed potatoes? Latkes? The answer is simply yes. (And you can be sure there will be more of everything for you since you'll be joined by a table full of WASP-y Newport biddies determined to stick to their carb-free, non-eating diets.)
- You complete me.
There are plenty of ongoing dialogues about what makes for a good holiday. Many children choose favorite holidays based on the rewards promised, be they candy or presents. But for Millennials, as we get older and more nostalgic, the family dinner table becomes the benchmark of a great holiday. Thanksgivukkah is a win for everyone: the largest feast imaginable combined with the most extended gift-giving. Gluttony on all counts.
- What to do about Scrooge.
Scrooge is mad as ever. He’s been left out of the portmanteau holiday and he’ll do anything to throw a metaphorical wrecking ball at it, even if he has to throw an actual wrecking ball at it. We’ve seen family members ruin holidays time and time again—even holidays that, as Seth says, "have twice the resistance of a regular holiday." It’s a tale old as time: endless food, lessons about miracles in the form of oil—and then BAM! Your racist grandparent starts talking about immigration. BAM! Your 18-year-old cousin pulls you aside to tell you she’s pregnant and running away from home with her high school boyfriend. BAM! Your uncle has had too much to drink and confesses he’s gay. BAM! Your mother tells you she doesn’t like your sister’s girlfriend. BAM! Your sister’s girlfriend heard that. BAM! BAM! BAM! Dead holiday.
You know the drill, and it sucks. Keep the fam from ruining this glorious day with the following tricks:
- The Oliver Twist effect: Look right into the offending grandparents' eyes with that trembling pout they’ve always been easily manipulated by. Bonus points for working in the term "gruel."
- Tryptophan Terror: Lure the raging relative into the kitchen by opening the oven door. Let them have a bite, sit them on the couch, and let the turkey take it from there.
- The B Plotline Distraction: Send in Julie Cooper. She will ruin everything momentarily, but she’ll also take the attention off of the real problems happening between the people you actually care about.
- Dreidel Football: When in doubt, gamble them into the holiday spirit. Whether it’s throwing around the good ol' American pigskin or spinning that top 'til someone gets nauseated, bully them right into dunking that potato pancake into cranberry sauce. It will be hard to keep arguing after that.
- Jewish Guilt: Often the bane of existence, but you’ll need it for this part-Puritan, part-mystic day if you want to make it out alive. Get self-deprecating. Remind them what a miracle it is that you get to have a Thanksgivukkah when no one else will for another 70,000 years. You call THIS a holiday? You call THIS a miracle?!
- Best Thanksgivukkah Ever
If we’ve learned nothing else from Chrismukkahs past, it’s that holidays allow us to press pause on our family differences. So take advantage of the literary devices of both of these miraculous days and don't fret about the drama, because this super-day is the one moment everyone might be able to let old resentments go. And if not, there’s always pecan-pie rugelach waiting under the soft light of the Hannukah menorah to temporarily quiet those feuding mouths.