I recently watched an episode of The Goldbergs that I found to be very interesting. The Goldbergs features famous actor and fellow Jew Jeff Garlin as Murray Goldberg and Wendi McLendon-Covey as Beverly Goldberg.
In this episode, Beverly Goldberg, the series’ mom, does everything she can to make Hanukkah like Christmas. She does so in many ways, which I found to be a bit off-putting and a bit enlightening.
First, Beverly has the series’ grandfather, who happens to have a strong resemblance to Santa Clause, dress up as Hanukkah Harry. Next, instead of eight nights of Hanukkah festivities including a present for each night, the Goldbergs get all eight nights of presents on one night. This is very reminiscent of the people who celebrate Christmas by opening their presents all at once on Christmas morning. To go even further, Beverly places the presents underneath the Hanukkah Bush, a knockoff attempt at a Jewish Christmas tree.
Beverly gets very into the Hanukkah spirit throughout this episode, but I had to wonder what that spirit truly was. She continues her “Hanukkah spirit” by decorating the outside of the house with blue string lights. She provides her family with blue stockings in which smaller gifts can fit, and she gets blue and white candy canes that she turns upside down to look like a J for “Jewish.”
In the end, the family realizes how much they miss their normal Hanukkah traditions and decide to go back to tradition.
While this episode is funny to watch, and it’s interesting to see a Jewish play on Christmas, it sends an important message.
Growing up, I personally was always so envious of the children who got to celebrate Christmas. While I loved Hanukkah, I always wanted some of the Christmas traditions and wondered what it would be like if our holiday was more similar to Christmas. However, this episode makes it evident that, while it seems like it would be a fun and good idea to turn Hanukkah into Christmas, you would end up missing out on the traditions and individuality that Hanukkah brings each holiday season. Christmas is Christmas, and Hanukkah is Hanukkah. They may be similar holidays that tend to take place within weeks or days of each other, but they are truly very different.
It is so special to have a holiday we can call our own. It’s important to remember that next time you find yourself being envious of the way other people celebrate their holidays. Remember why Hanukkah, or any other holiday for that matter, is so important, and try to enjoy it for what it is.
Less than 65 days until Hanukkah! Can you tell I’m excited?