Thanksgivukkah — two ways to be grateful

Sweet pumpkin noodle kugel. ( Nov. 12, 2013)
Sweet pumpkin noodle kugel. ( Nov. 12, 2013) Photo Credit: Handout Handout/ Joaquin Simo

People get excited when presented with events billed as “once in a lifetime” — like this year’s Thanksgivukkah on Nov. 28.

The term mashes the convergence of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah — Yahoo searches for it are up 723 percent since last month — which won’t occur again for more than 75,000 years.

Thanksgiving and the beginning of Hanukkah were last jointly celebrated in 1888, when Victoria sat on the British throne and Susan B. Anthony advocated in Washington for women’s rights.

If you think about it, the two holidays aren’t radically different. For many people, Thanksgiving is a time not just to share a great big meal, but also to reflect and be grateful.

My social networks are peppered with posts of appreciation and gratitude — mostly mellow discussions about who’s going where, with more rousing debates about substituting brisket for turkey this year (brisket recipes are another popular Yahoo search this month).

As the child of a concentration camp survivor from an extended family of Holocaust survivors, Thanksgiving is a reminder to be thankful for a country that accepted my parents and gave them freedom of religion and democracy.

And then there’s Hanukkah, one of the more innocuous yet still widely celebrated ancient Jewish holy days. Judah the Maccabee (sort of like a Jewish Spiderman) staged a revolt against the evil King Antiochus. Go, tough Jews! And after the dust settled, legend says a single tiny container of olive oil kept the temple’s menorah lit for eight days. On a metaphorical level, it symbolizes to me at least, a bit of unwavering light during what’s generally the darkest time of the year.

So, can you celebrate both? Probably.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will have a spinning-dreidel balloon this year, proving that it’s painless to mark more than one cultural event at a time.

The holidays remind us that we don’t need kitschy holiday mash-ups to gather with loved ones and appreciate the truly important things in life.

Whatever your background or belief, enjoy time with family — and some marshmallow-topped sweet potato latkes.

Rachel Weingarten of Brooklyn is author of the forthcoming book “Ancient Prayer: Channeling Your Faith 365 Days of the Year.”

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