Every generation seems to experience a couple of epic historic moments that define them — we have “The Greatest Generation” with their memories of World War II, former “flower children” who remember The Summer of Love (or at least did some indiscriminate making-out that year), and so on. I’m on the younger side of Baby Boomers — I was 10 in 1969, so the only real hippie experience I had was embroidering flowers on my bellbottom jeans and writing earnest but dreadful poetry with lines like “the earth was meant for love, not pollution.”
Usually these landmark moments are pretty serious, even tragic, like assassinations or weather-related disasters. And occasionally, they can be celebrations of the human spirit, like the first moonwalk, the falling of the Berlin Wall, or the record number of babies born nine months after major power outages. But only rarely do we find a transformational, epic moment that has nothing sad about it, nothing triumphant, but just pure fun — in fact, up until recently, the only examples I could think of were pop culture silliness, like pet rocks, the Macarena, or Gangnam Style.
However, due to a calendar quirk, this month will be the first time since 1888 that Chanukah and Thanksgiving have overlapped. And it won’t happen again for more than 77,000 years. (Which is how long I know many people hope it will be until the Macarena comes back.) So naturally, people are jumping on it as an opportunity to celebrate, to develop fun hybrid recipes (sweet potato latkes with melted marshmallows… don’t think about it too much), and of course to find the marketing angle. Someone has already trademarked “Thanksgivukkah,” and you can buy Thanksgivukkah-themed cards, T-shirts, and even a “menurkey” (a menorah in the shape of a turkey).
Even though this would seem to be a completely apolitical moment of joy, in today’s bitter partisan climate I must admit I was expecting some push back from the far right who keep insisting that our founding fathers meant for this to be a Christian nation. So, I thought they’d be horrified that a holiday celebrating American history would be combined with a non-Christian observance. But so far the only objection has come from comedian Stephen Colbert (who complained that the war on Christmas is now going after Thanksgiving). So we can celebrate without reservation!