Shopping for Chanukah: Potatoes, onions, carrots, soy sour cream, eggs, apple sauce, and parve (non-dairy) chocolate gelt. With some minor exceptions, a shopping list my great-great-grandmother could have could have written. That is, if she had known how to write in English, or at all.
Is Saturday a big shopping day for Christians? Must be, because it took me over two hours to get through my short list. I went to three grocery stores before finding the non-dairy gelt, and it was marked kosher-dairy. (Oh, well. Shared equipment, I guess?) By then I had lost patience and decided to go without the soy sour cream.
However I did find this charming sign, on a gelt display at Trader Joe's. Here's a closeup, so you can see the punchline:
It says, "Coins of the World / Chocolates / $1.99 / Stocking Stuffer!"
I guess they missed the whole thing about gelt being a Jewish word, for a Jewish holiday. I mentioned it to the (very pretty) young man with gorgeous long dreads who was working the checkout. He said, "That's weird, alright."
I said, not wanting to sound angry (as I wasn't really, and certainly not at him), "It's not a big deal. I mean, it's not surprising. I mean, whatever." (Eloquent, I know.) "Yeah," he said. And then, in a perfect Connecticut-Texas twang, he added "Cuz this is a Christian nation we're living in." The bagger, the other customers and I all cracked up laughing.
Later, I learned that it is, apparently, traditional to put chocolate gold coins in Christmas stockings. How or why this came to be, no one seems to know, including the Christians who grew up with the tradition. Appropriation? Or more benign cultural crossover? Or, is it possible, a coincidence? I don't care enough to do the research, but if you do, please share!
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