Though Hanukkah Harvie vs. Santa Claus has only just been released (11/1/17), it’s already had an interesting life. There were pretty much only two reactions among those who previewed it: love or hate. Most readers adored the book because it’s a funny story with a heartwarming message. But a few haters scorned it, solely because they can’t abide the word “Chrismukkah,” which they believe advocates the blending of incompatible religions.
But let’s back up. First, I have to admit that HH vs SC was not inspired by a burning desire to endorse the controversial term, “Chrismukkah” (coined by the writers of the early 2000’s teen drama, The O.C.). Though the story does this. Nor did I aspire to choose for the Chosen People their own Santa (after all, Saturday Night Live gave us Hanukkah Harry as far back as 1989). Though the story does this, too. Nor was the idea hatched to promote tolerance and acceptance among people with different cultural/religious backgrounds. Though the book…you get the picture.
Actually, the story is the product of my musing about what might happen if a Hanukkah hero and Santa Claus bumped into each other delivering gifts to the same house. This seemed worth considering because, statistically speaking, such a meeting is very likely now that there are over a million families in North America alone that celebrate both holidays. A number that is growing every year. This uniquely modern question required a uniquely modern answer. Hence, Hanukkah Harvie vs. Santa Claus.
But after experiencing the pushback from a few grinchy readers in the Jewish, Christian, and Interfaith communities, I’m extra pleased the ideas that didn’t inspire the book are in the book.
Hanukkah Harvie vs. Santa Claus says absolutely nothing about how the two holidays are celebrated by interfaith families — it simply celebrates the existence of such families. The notion that the word “Chrismukkah,” all by itself, will brainwash those exposed to it into believing that Christmas and Hanukkah are one hybrid holiday seems based on a rather low opinion of people’s intelligence. Let’s be honest here: anyone who doesn’t understand or care that Judaism and Christianity are mutually exclusive religions is not a loss to either tradition, as they are clearly part of neither. It’s obvious, to me anyway, that “Chrismukkah” is best understood as the season during which both holidays are celebrated under the same roof. And so the term gives us a delightful way to recognize linguistically our progress toward intercultural harmony.
If that’s not something the grinches can get behind, they’ll be pleased to know they can air their grievances when Festivus rolls around.
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