December 20, 2006


Holidays' Convergence Adds to December Dilemma (ANDY NEWMAN, 12/20/05, NY Times)

On Sunday afternoon, millions of families in the New York area will sit down to Christmas dinner.

In thousands of those homes, dinner will be interrupted around a quarter past four.

As the sun prepares to set, some man, woman or child will say a brief prayer in Hebrew and light the first candle on the Hanukkah menorah.

This year, for the first time since 1959, the first and typically most festive night of Hanukkah falls on Dec. 25. In the ever-growing ranks of families where Christians and Jews have intermarried, this is more than a mere quirk of the calendar.

For an unabashed syncretist, the double-barreled holiday offers an excuse to eat mashed potatoes and potato latkes in the same sitting, with candy canes and chocolate gelt for dessert. For those who take care to faithfully pass on to their children both their Jewish and Christian heritages, an annual juggling ritual is tricky, and the danger of confusion greater.

But for everyone in a blended family, the phenomenon that has become known as the December Dilemma poses a particular logistical challenge this year.

Our son says he's going to marry a black girl so he can celebrate Kwaanzaa too.

(Originally posted: 12/20/05)

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 20, 2006 7:44 AM

#2 son doesn't know about Kwaanzaa either, but I can imagine him doing the same thing...

Posted by: Ptah at December 20, 2005 8:02 AM

If I were the Times, I wouldn't worry about dinner arrangements in New York right now -- with the transit strike and the resulting gridlock, no one's driving any long distances for double-holiday dinners.

Posted by: John at December 20, 2005 9:54 AM

Look at the bright side of the transit strike, more people will be walking - more exercise, more healthy.

Posted by: Sandy P at December 20, 2005 9:58 AM

No! It's _less_ loot. I was born Dec 17, and my parents had to decide how to spend their limited money, on Christmas or birthday presents. Major sibling rivalry with my brother who was born in March. Clearly, they should move Haunnakah to August.

Posted by: John H. Costello at December 20, 2005 10:01 AM

Michael Kelly got a great column out of this a few years back. A Color-blind Christmas:

I am Catholic and my wife is Jewish, so in our house we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, which our sons Tom and Jack regard as an excellent thing. People sometimes ask me if it is hard to raise children in respect and love for two great faiths that have a slight doctrinal disagreement between them, and I say: Not if you give them presents every day for eight days of Hanukkah and for Christmas. The more Gods the merrier, is Tom and Jack's strong belief.
Posted by: joe shropshire at December 20, 2005 11:28 AM

Mr. Costello:

I'm December 2. The trick I always used was to ask for a combined Bday/Xmas gift so you could haul in a big ticket item.

Posted by: oj at December 20, 2005 12:22 PM

Joe, you call the debate on whether or not Jesus is the son of God a "slight doctrinal difference?"

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
To all!

Posted by: Bartman at December 20, 2005 12:33 PM


Not only is it minor but it will be settled to everyone's satisfaction when the Messiah either comes or returns.

Posted by: oj at December 20, 2005 12:37 PM

I think Kelly was going for the wry understatement.

Posted by: joe shropshire at December 20, 2005 1:12 PM