MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, and you might find a menorah buried in all the lights, tinsel and manger scenes of that other holiday. Christmas is everywhere.
As a Jew, you can either do your best to ignore it and go out for Chinese food on Christmas Day, or you can do what Ron Gompertz has done; embrace it and make it just a little less goy. He calls his version of the holiday Chrismukkah, a hybrid of Christmas and Hanukkah. And he's written a new how-to book.
Mr. RON GOMPERTZ: In my family, it kind of started out as a bit of an inside joke. I married my wife Michelle. I'm Jewish and my wife grew up in a fairly conservative Christian household. Her dad, actually, is a career minister with the United Church of Christ.
BRAND: So was it, do we put a tree up? Do we put a menorah up? That kind of thing?
Mr. GOMPERTZ: You know, Chrismukkah, we decided, was about throwing everything up. As garish, as busy, as multi-cultural as we could possibly make it.
BRAND: So what does your house look like?
Mr. GOMPERTZ: My house is probably very typical of any mixed faith family. The big decision is how close the tree goes to the menorah. This is what differentiates the orthodox mixed marriage from the reformed mixed marriages.
Can they be in the same room? Do they have to be separated by a wall? Can they be adjacent to one another? So my house is pretty typical. We have a tree in one corner and the menorahs and the dreidels and the gelt in the other.
BRAND: Way on the other side of the room?
Mr. GOMPERTZ: Caddy-corner, yup.
BRAND: I see.
Mr. GOMPERTZ: There is sort of an arbitrary - it's got to be at least 10 feet, is what we decided.
BRAND: So give us some tips. I want to do Chrismukkah this year. What should I do?
Mr. GOMPERTZ: The most important thing is to respect your partner and to find out what the background is, what the history is of each family, and then pull out the rituals that you have nostalgic feelings about.
And we make, oh, you know, it's all about the food, isn't it? Holidays are all about the food. So we have in the book that I wrote, Fa-La-La Latkes, and we have Bubbie Ganoush and we have Matzoh Pizza for those that might be Jewish and Italian, Gefilte Goose is one of our favorite recipes.
BRAND: That sounds revolting. Gefilte Goose?
Mr. GOMPERTZ: Ah, I can't wait.
SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER
BRAND: I'm really not a fan of gefilte fish and so I can't even imagine what a Gefilte Goose is.
Mr. GOMPERTZ: Gefilte Goose is pretty much gefilte fish with the fish substituted by goose. Simple. We couldn't do gefilte ham because that just wouldn't be kosher.
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BRAND: So your child, in fact, children who are in Chrismukkah households, they must just cash in because they've got the Christmas loot plus the Hanukkah loot?
Mr. GOMPERTZ: Yeah, eight days and nights of gifts followed by one day of many, many gifts. It is - the neighbor kids are all jealous. They covet Chrismukkah but they are not qualified because they're not in mixed marriages so, you know...
BRAND: Oh, wow.
Mr. GOMPERTZ: You got to qualify.
BRAND: Does anyone say to you, you know, this is kind of sacrilegious? What are you doing? Why don't you let each religion celebrate their holiday in the way they're supposed to?
Mr. GOMPERTZ: When people take Chrismukkah too seriously, first of all, I remind them that it is after all a fake holiday. It's a bit of a spoof. It's a bit of satire. But it's something that's very, very real for those of us that are in mixed marriages and do have to battle the feelings of our spouses and the attitudes of our in-laws and, you know, when things get too heavy, it's a good time to make light.
BRAND: And why not make a Matzoh Ball Snowman? Why not?
Mr. GOMPERTZ: Yeah.
BRAND: Did you actually invent Chrismukkah?
Mr. GOMPERTZ: No, I can't claim I did. Chrismukkah actually goes back to, best our research could tell, 1880s in Germany when they used to celebrate a holiday called Weihnukkah, which is the combination of Weihnachten, German for Christmas, and the ukkah of Hanukkah.
BRAND: Well, do you have any plans to branch out, maybe include Muslims or Buddhists even?
Mr. GOMPERTZ: Yeah, there are many other alternative holidays including Buddhakkah, and I think we have, what do they call it, Wiccakukkah...
BRAND: Like for Wiccan religion, like witches?
Mr. GOMPERTZ: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But then there is also Kabbalatology day would be another good one for Kabbalah and Scientology. There are some celebs who probably celebrate that already.
BRAND: Okay. Okay.
Mr. GOMPERTZ: Oh, Agnostukkah.
Mr. GOMPERTZ: Agnostukkah is my personal favorite.
BRAND: How would you celebrate Agnostukkah?
Mr. GOMPERTZ: Doing nothing.
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BRAND: And then eating.
Mr. GOMPERTZ: Yes. It's all about the food. It's all about the nosh, Noel Nosh.
BRAND: Ron Gompertz wrote "Chrismukkah: Everything You Need to Know to Celebrate the Hybrid Holiday." Thank you, Ron. And so what would you say? Would you say Cheery Chrismukkah or -
Mr. GOMPERTZ: We say Merry Mazeltov.
BRAND: Okay. Well, Merry Mazeltov to you.
Mr. GOMPERTZ: Thank you very much.
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