Join me for a new Chrismukkah tradition – a combination of my friends’ Dutch and Jewish heritage. They come together deliciously.
Chrismukkah & New Traditions
As a kid, I was always searching for traditions. I orchestrated (read: made my family suffer through) an annual Christmas play with my best friend, complete with violin and piano solos. There were spreads or ring bologna, cheddar cheese, and soda. As an adult, I’m still searching for traditions, but now I err on the side of prosciutto, smoked gouda, and wine. It’s all too easy to let traditions slip away, to avoid the effort, or to overstress (hi!), but these intentional celebrations enrich our lives.
“Studies show that routines, rituals, and traditions are good for people’s physical and mental well-being. They help make life seem predictable, under control, and meaningful, and they provide family cohesiveness and predictability, which people—especially children—crave. In families with strong rituals, couples reported having happier marriages, and kids had more contact with grandparents. Children in families with predictable routines did better in school and were healthier.”
For all the reasons above, I’m immensely grateful to have found a deep connection with my friends Marlene and Andrew. If there’s anyone who adds themes, occasions, and new traditions to my life, it’s Marlene! This year, Marlene and her husband Andrew invited our “pod” to share in their Chrismukkah tradition – a combination of Marlene’s Dutch Christmas traditions and Andrew’s Jewish heritage, both of which we documented in their family cookbook project.
There were many lighthearted moments. There were perfectly selected surprise presents (Leslie Knope is merely a fictitious rendering of my real-life Marlene). There were second helpings of the softest eggs and snowy Christmas bread. There were bubbles and bloody marys. There were also moments of sharing the history of the Jewish people, moments of appreciating the undying human spirit.
Marlene recalled a radio story that moved us all to tears. Even amidst the atrocities of the Holocaust, when the Nazis made candle jokes and pointed to the smoke of the gas chambers, many prisoners saved fats from their food and loose threads to construct makeshift menorahs to continue their traditions and religious rituals.
I know that each boat is different as we collectively have been weathering the storms of 2020. For that matter, many people have been weathering the storms of injustice long before the pandemic. Traditions were challenged this year, connections limited, but I’m ever inspired by the tenacity of the human spirit and ever grateful for the friends who have added meaning, connection, and well-being to my life.
As I have been looking back on this year, I’m realizing more and more how these are the moments that matter most, more than my work accomplishments, more than titles. It makes me think of one of the very few Bible verses I have chosen to keep with me, “hold fast to that which is good.” I hope you can do the same, friends.
Dutch Christmas Bread for Chrismukkah:
Want to try your own? I shared Marlene’s family recipe here.