Celebrating Christmukkah? Ideas for Your Celebration
The summer before I turned seventeen, my parents split up after as many years of marriage. It was easy, for a while, to kind of pretend that things were normal, aside from the fact that I had now two places to live and a stricter schedule to adhere to. I went about my high school
life as best as I could, immersing myself in school work, extra-curriculars, and my budding social life.
Then the holidays began to roll around.
We grew up, and still live, close to my dad’s extended family, around which much of our holiday gatherings and traditions revolved around their strong Christian beliefs over the span of our childhoods. However, my newly-fractured family made it painfully apparent that my mom lacked for traditions of her own.
So that year, I asked her if she wanted to celebrate Hanukkah, to honor her Holocaust-surviving family’s legacy. I had researched the basics of the
holiday, its meaning, and its traditions at school and a little online (back in the days when AIM was still hot stuff) and I knew what we needed to procure and mostly how it worked. I thought this would be a way to start our own traditions together, and to show her that her family history was just as important to me as that of my paternal family’s.
So one night in the middle of a snowstorm, she and I went to Bed Bath and Beyond and purchased our very first menorah -- an unboxed, clearance display piece -- and we set it up on the mantle next to the decades-old Christmas tree in the bay window. We lit the candles each night at sunset by the glow of the multi-colored twinkle lights on the artificial tree, and as the Festival of Lights spilled over into the Yuletide, our own little Christmukkah tradition was born.
Over ten years later, Christmukkah is now an integral part of my own young family’s holiday celebrations. However, I remember how hard it was as a non-religious barely-Jew (in the Midwest, no less) to find blended-holiday appropriate wares with which to celebrate pretty much all December long, so I’ve rounded up my favorite Hanukkah gear, gifts, and tchotchkes that will blend in seamlessly with most existing Christmas festivities and décor to help bring your own family’s Christmukkah celebrations to light.
The Manzanita Candelabra and Manzanita Menorah from West Elm are pretty much the epitome of Christmukkah décor for me. Both of these pieces are elegant and sophisticated without being overstated. The Candelabra is certainly far less mazel tov than the actual Menorah, but that’s perfectly okay. If you want to have an awesome piece for
year-round (or all-holiday) use, then the candelabra is nothing short of
perfection. If you’re willing to commit to Sparkle Motion, the menorah is
gorgeous without screaming JUDAICA from your mantle.
I really love these Modern Star and Tree Cards from Mixed Blessing. The clean lines and the juxtaposition of the traditional symbols of the separate holidays are just clever, and the holiday non-specific greeting inside is perfect to send to friends and family of all faiths.
You know what always makes the holidays and the history of a people better? Cats. Cats and dogs and armadillos. Dreidelcat by Evelyn Loeb is the perfect little gift book that explains the Festival of Lights through the eyes of a Jewish cat back in the B.C., and even comes with its own tiny 24k gold dreidel. The illustrations are fanciful and the parallels are quirky, but this story can help Hanukkah newbs from babies to bubbes understand the history behind the traditions of the season.
For little hands that are too tiny to light a menorah, there’s this adorable minimalist Menorah Puzzle to help them celebrate right along with the grown-ups. I especially love the bright, solid colors and 3D shape; it packs a sensory punch for babies and toddlers and can double as a kids’ menorah as they grow.
Photo Credit: Williams & Sonoma.
Perfect for the cook in your family or just while you prep Seder yourself, this menorah spatula from Williams & Sonoma and these Hanukkah nesting bowls at Target make me giggle with delight. I love me some kitsch in a holiday kitchen, and these just do it for me. Pro tip: Use them to make this rugelach recipe from not-quite-kosher holiday queen Martha Stewart, but swap out the brown sugar for raspberry preserves and thank me later.
Actually, these Star of David canapé plates from West Elm would be perfect to serve your rugelach on to guests … and they would float right on to your Christmas table as well.
What would Hanukkah be without a dreidel? This paint-your-own dreidel craft kit is perfect for kids of all ages (and their adult counterparts) to personalize and play with. I think it would be really cute to make them every year as markers of your family’s holiday celebrations, and then use a piece of ribbon to make them into ornaments for your Christmas tree (or Hanukkah bush, whichever).
This is probably the most important thing on this list: The best accessory for Christmukkah you can have is your friends and family. Spend time with the ones you love, celebrate a season of gratitude, blessings, and good will, and create new traditions that celebrate the kindness and light of the human spirit. Because for this blended family, that’s what it’s really all about – celebrating love and acceptance. (But as a bonus, this Lemony Snicket book might also be awesome.)