KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Every December, Zack and Hilary Rudman used to send out nonsectarian cards with winter scenes and generic holiday greetings.
Now, however, Zack Rudman, a Kansas City lawyer, has found a variety that seems to better suit a Jewish man and an Episcopal woman with two young children as familiar with the menorah as with a manger scene.
These cards proclaim: "Merry Chrismukkah (search)!"
"I'm all for holiday cards but I want to make sure when we send something it respects both sides of our family," Rudman said. "I always like to deal with religious differences with humor. These were right up my alley."
Christmas (search) and Hanukkah (search), two holidays that seem to share little more than a calendar page, are increasingly being melded on greeting cards aimed at the country's estimated 2.5 million families with both Jewish and Christian members.
"It's representative of the way people live and the way they spend the holidays," said Elise Okrend, an owner of Raleigh, N.C.-based MixedBlessing, a card company devoted to interfaith holiday greetings. "And it's an expression of people understanding the people around them."
MixedBlessing was among the first to come out with holiday cards intended for Jewish-Christian families about 15 years ago and still may be the only company focusing entirely on that market segment.
In its first year, it sold about 3,000 cards. This year, Okrend projects sales of 200,000 cards off its 55-card line.
Kansas City-based Hallmark Cards Inc. says one of its most popular categories of Hanukkah cards combines Jewish and Christian themes.
"The essence of these cards is not about interfaith households as much as it is about friends and family members of different faiths acknowledging the different holidays that they all celebrate," said Shalanda Stanley, a Hallmark product manager.
American Greetings Corp. has about 10 Hanukkah-Christmas line offerings this year.
"It's an interesting market," said Kathy Krassner, editor of Greetings Inc., a trade magazine. "But it's a limited market."
The newest player is Chrismukkah. Ron Gompertz founded the company this year with his wife, inspired by an episode of the popular Fox series "The O.C." in which character Seth Cohen, whose mother is Protestant and whose father is Jewish, coins the term.
"It's a little bit of both," Gompertz explains.
As with anything addressing religion, though, card makers are careful not to offend. Chrismukkah even offers a disclaimer: "We respect people's different faiths and do not suggest combining the religious observance of Christmas and Hanukkah."
Gompertz explains: "Our intention wasn't to merge the religious aspects but rather the secular aspects of the holidays."
Cards from Chrismukkah, based in Livingston, Mont., use humor to create a hybrid holiday. Greetings include images of a Christmas tree decorated with dreidels, a menorah filled with candy canes and simpler varieties featuring messages such as "Merry Mazeltov" and "Oy Joy."
Gompertz is Jewish and from New York City. He married the daughter of a Protestant minister from the Midwest.
"It's whimsical. It's humorous," said Gompertz. "This is a way of diffusing the seriousness of it."
Most of American Greetings' Hanukkah-Christmas cards are humorous, too. One shows three snowmen — two dressed in traditional winter hats and scarves, the third wearing a yarmulke and prayer shawl. Another features a list of Hanukkah songs that never caught on, including "Shlepping Through a Winter Wonderland," "Bubbie Got Run Over by a Reindeer" and "Come On, Baby, Light My Menorah."
"We don't go over the line," said Pam Fink, who works on Jewish-themed cards for American Greetings. "We're careful to make sure it's lighthearted funny, but not too far."
Gompertz also has been floating around an "Easterover" idea, featuring a "Rabbi Rabbit."
He thinks he'll probably pass on that idea. "That threatens to push the levels of what's acceptable," he said.