Wednesday, December 21, 2005

It's Chrismukkah all over TV Land

Okay, so while I am a fan of Seinfeld and I thought the Festivus idea (the December 23 holiday for the "rest of us") was funny, it seems that this whole "Chrismukkah" thing is getting out of hand.

This new-age creation that intertwines Christmas and Hanukkah began a couple of years ago with an episode of Fox's teen soap opera "The O.C." I don't watch the show but my wife explained that the character Seth Cohen (played by real Jew Adam Brody) created the faux holiday for his interfaith (Protestant-Jewish) family. Now the show has its annual "Chrismukkah" episode. This year (again second-hand info from the wife), they even went so far as to create a "The Chrismukkah Bar Mitz-vahkkah" so a youngster will rake in some Bar Mitzvah gift money for the family. Nice!

Rabbi Jason MillerThe Chrismukkah idea has been turned into a major moneymaking operation on its own. The O.C. producer Warner Bros. is now selling Chrismukkah greeting cards, T-shirts, photo albums, and more online.

And the O.C. isn't the only show on TV capitalizing off the Chrismukkah idea. "Girlfriends" is another show I have never watched (or even heard of before). I'm told from an e-mail sent out over the Conservative Rabbi listserv that it "is a popular series on UPN about four young Black women, their lives, loves, and lamentations." Rabbi Elliot Gertel, a colleague from Chicago, writes in an article published on the Jewish World Review website that ["Girlfriends"] is the last place that most TV viewers would have looked for a Chanukah and Christmas episode, yet it is a very worthwhile place for such a theme. The show's energy, wit and pathos serve it well in exploring any serious theme, with appropriate humor."

He goes on to write "The episode, "All G-d's Children," begins with Toni (Jill Marie Jones) showing her friends a power point presentation she has prepared in video to impress the judge presiding over her custody battle for baby daughter Morgan with her ex husband, Todd (Jason Pace). She has decided that her willingness to expose the baby both to her Black heritage and to Todd's Jewish heritage will win her points in court. She highlights both Christmas and Chanukah and even throws in a "mazal tov" for good measure. She has even agreed to invite Todd and his mother, along with her family and friends, in order to celebrate Christmas and Chanukah together, since the first candle falls on Christmas Day. The combined celebration is a disaster from the start."

Really? I'm shocked! I'm all for holidays and ritual. I just think these holidays should be kept separate. If someone chooses to celebrate another faith's holiday, Ge Gesundt! But there is no getting away from this silly notion of trying to weave two very different religious tradition's holy days together. So while I was delighted to see my 2-year-old's favorite TV show "Blue's Clues" include Hanukkah in a recent episode, I was less than thrilled when the song they taught my son went something like this:

Deck the halls with a Menorah, falalalalalalalala!

Although I must admit it was cute when he surprised me with his cute rendition of "Jingle Bells" which of course he learned from Blue's Clues.

So, it is the festive holiday season and there's no getting away from it. What else can I do but wish everyone a Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, Season's Greetings, or just "enjoy the winter and try to stay warm."

If you want to get me a gift, you missed your chance because all I really wanted this holiday season was for someone to come to my home and pull out the plugs on all my TVs so I wouldn't have wasted that half hour on the hour-long VH1 special "So Jewtastic."

If this time of year ("The December Dilemma") really gets to you, don't worry... Spring is almost here. And that means it will soon be time for more holidays! Eastover (Easter+Passover) anyone?

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