Gather ‘round, children (or nostalgia-soaked millennials) because it’s the 15th anniversary of “The Best Chrismukkuh Ever” episode! Yes, on December 3rd, 2003, The OC introduced us to the perfect fusion holiday that is Chrismukkah by way of Seth Cohen. For teens in Jewish or interfaith families, “The Best Chrismukkuh Ever” was a Godsend, so to speak. Using his trademark wit, Seth offered up a way to blend all the best parts of the season in a harmonious way. For the rest of us, it was good television. Really good television.
In fact, I took “The Best Chrismukkuh Ever” for a spin just in time for the first night of Hanukkah, and let me tell you, it holds up. Not only because it mashes up all those great traditions, but because it mashes up all those great storylines that made The OC a teen soap for the history books.*
So what’s it going to be, huh? You want a menorah or a candy cane? Well, don’t worry, buddy, because on this show, you don’t have to choose. Chronologically speaking, here all the little grace notes that make "The Best Chrismukkah Ever" a true classic.
1. Seth really brings out the enthusiasm for his Chrismukkah sales pitch.
“It’s the new holiday, Ryan, and it’s sweeping the nation,” he tells his as-per-usual bemused foster brother. Gleeful about Sandy and Kirsten’s Christmas tree as he is about the menorah, Seth introduces us to a beautiful world where movies and Chinese food converge with stockings and all the trimmings. The best part is the eight days of presents followed by one day of many presents! Sign me up.
Anwyway, Seth so wants Ryan to join in on his holiday cheer, but Ryan had a very John Bender Christmas experience back in Chino. Waaah.
2. We learn that this is the most Cohen-y holiday ever, but also a really beautiful celebration of one’s dual heritage.
“We didn’t know how to raise Seth,” Kirsten explains with the understatement of the year.
“So I raised myself, and in doing so, I created the greatest super holiday known to mankind, drawing on the best that Christianity and Judaism have to offer,” he interrupts. We’re reminded, once more with feeling, that Sandy grew up as a poor Jew in the Bronx. Sandy, or “WASPy McWASP” as Seth calls her, grew up very blonde and very rich in Newport Beach. Also, when Kirsten protests with, “I’m not a WASP,” Adam Brody delivers a real A+ “Sure, you’re not.”
So yeah, it’s a holiday that’s half Sandy, half Kirsten. But you know what else it is? It is decidedly very Seth Cohen to mash-up both cultures because he hasn’t found a sense of belonging in one world or another. And it’s sweet subtext on how to coexist peacefully in a mixed family without being preachy.
3. On this blessed day, the Seth Cohen Starter Pack was born.
Now, for those of you dedicated OC die-hards who want to add a few things to their Christmas list, that includes: Bright Eyes’ Lifted or the Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground, The Shins’ Oh, Inverted World, Death Cab for Cutie’s Transatlanticism, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, and 1985 movie classic The Goonies. It’s not just for kids, Ryan.
Honestly, I think it’s pretty cute and clever, if not a little (or a lot) self-centered. Why wouldn’t you want to give someone new you’re dating a little slice of the things you hold dearest? I just, uh, wouldn’t give it to the two girls you’re stringing along. Bad move. Mucho bad. But we’ll swing back there.
4. Ryan and Marissa have an adorable Christmas montage.
In the minutes that it’s happening, it really is a pure sequence. When Marissa’s trying on lipsticks in the mirror and kisses Ryan’s cheek? Cute! When they smooch near the festive sweaters? Precious!
“I know it sounds stupid, but I like it here,” Marissa says in a moment of earnestness. “Everything is so perfect. You walk around feeling like all your problems can be solved by the right nail polish or a new pair of shoes.” It’s a pretty overt display of capitalism, but also, damn, I get it, girl. I was a teenager in the early 2000s, too, and nothing was more romantic than the mall at Christmas time.
Sadly, the magic gets usurped when Marissa is caught shoplifting hoop earrings (of course).
5. Ryan's little smile when Seth hands him a Christmas stocking.
I’m pulling a Frosty the Snowman and effing melting here, guys.
6. Seth's in the middle of a Summer and Anna love triangle and they both show up looking I N C R E D I B L E.
Holy God. Anna, like a punk pixie, is in a red-and-black lace dress with a black fur stole, candy apple pout, and gold glitter hair tips. Summer is boasting giant Bardot hair, topped with a tiny tiara and an elegant black-and-white ensemble. They are #holidaystyle goals, y’all can go to hell with your stupid Bob’s Burger’s ugly Christmas sweaters.
7. Anna gifts Seth an objectively adorable comic book.
I know we’re focusing on the gifts a lot here, but I just need to give snaps for this. Anna’s Christmas present to Seth is so thoughtful it even includes Captain Oats! Eat that, Kavalier and Klay!
8. ...which Summer overshadows by dressing up as Wonder Woman, leading to a surprisingly peaceful confrontation.
If I were Anna, I would be FURIOUS at this, because she created something thoughtful and specific while Summer heard Seth liked comics and rented some kind of Leg Avenue get-up. Amazingly, though, both girls regard each other with a lot of respect and even compliments each other on the gifts. Then they tell Seth he has to choose between them.
We all know how it ends, but let’s just live in this perfect moment where a teen drama didn’t use a love triangle as an excuse for a catfight.
9. Back to Marissa, this episode's downward spiral plotline involves an excellent Dandy Warhols motif.
The song in question is “You Come In Burned.” Even though the band would go down in history for the Veronica Mars theme song and the Rolling Stones’ rip-off “Bohemian Like You,” it’s a dark and sexy dirge for Marissa’s struggles. In true form, Marissa is melting, dismissing therapy and turning to a bottle of vodka for support. It’s still aggravating to watch all these years later, but hey, if nothing else it showcases the timeless strength of The OC’s soundtrack.
10. Which leads to a heartbreaking little outburst by Ryan.
The duo gets pulled over and are nearly outed for Marissa’s drinking. After the officer drives off, Ryan throws Marissa’s vodka and starts slamming the door. “Well, there’s drinking, crying, cops, well, it must be Christmas,” he says.
Oh, Ryan. Emojis didn't exist back then, so I'm just going to send a little ":(" on my flip phone instead.
11. Sandy Cohen saves Chrismukkah, probably.
There’s this Caleb subplot where he bought a property and was trying to hold that over Sandy’s head. And then Kirsten got the map revealing the plot was just wetlands you can’t build on. And then Sandy has a baller moment where he tells Caleb he’ll buy the property back for a $1, and when Caleb publicly “sells” him the land for a $1 he does a good It’s a Wonderful Life riff with, “To Caleb Nichol, the most generous man in Newport Beach.”
Good Sandy moment, but the rest of it is way too confusing, it’s like whenever I’m stuck in another “Hiram Lodge owns the town” storyline on Riverdale. I really don’t care, I didn’t tune into this show for a lesson in real estate.
12. Those Seth Cohen Starter Packs backfire, but don’t worry, Chrismukkah is unruinable.
After both Summer and Anna say they don’t want to be “just friends” with Seth (good for them! This will last an episode) he’s feeling a little bit morose. Luckily, hearing about Ryan’s near-arrest the other night constitutes a “Chrismukkah miracle,” and our boy is reinvigorated. Ryan hangs up his stocking and the family retires to watch a Sylvester Stallone film. And that’s it. That’s how the episode ends.
13. Amazing, Happy Chrismukkah, everyone!
You have seven more days to watch "The Chrismukkah That Almost Wasn't," "The Chrismukkah Bar Mitzvakah," "The Chrismukk-huh," and Sly Stallone's Over The Top.