IT’S that time of year: the endless holiday parade of cooking, shopping, wrapping and congregating that in my family commences the Friday after Thanksgiving, when we sit down for a traditional meal of turkey, stuffing and canned-fruit compote — and concludes, well, the following day when we celebrate all eight nights of Hanukkah in one madcap afternoon.
We began this tradition almost two decades ago, after deciding that flying multiple families across the country twice within the span of a month made little sense. Why not shift Thanksgiving dinner by a day to reduce the hectic-ness, avoid crowded airports and give the biscuits more time to rise? And as long as we were together, why not go ahead and light the Hanukkah candles, sing a few off-key melodies and exchange presents? Among the many benefits of this jury-rigged family occasion: it removes the stress from the high-stress weeks to come.
Naturally, we got some pushback. A rabbi friend scolded me: “You can’t just move Hanukkah to whenever you want. The community is supposed to celebrate together. Your family is not more important than the Jewish people.”
But these days, when so much of life is about relaxing customs in favor of convenience —podcasting your favorite TV show or telecommuting; early voting or the e-mail wedding invitation — why not free holidays from their timeworn shackles and welcome them into the digital age? If a woman can freeze her eggs until she finds the right man, surely she shouldn’t mind if that man brings her chocolates on Feb. 15.
Feiler goes on to explain why this both makes sense and doesn’t violate some cardinal rule of celebrating holidays.
I have to admit that while I’ve never celebrated Thanksgiving on any day but the third Tuesday in November, I do regularly celebrate Christmas a few days early, or late, with either my parents or my in-laws. It rotates every year. And it’s a lot, lot, lot more convenient than trying to squeeze visits to both houses in one day.