Festival of Lights 0

20151124_140922The celebration of Hanukkah begins this year on the evening of December 6th. Hanukkah is celebrated mostly in the home, with families joined around the table to partake in the festivities. There may be party decorations to set the festive spirit, and the menorah is placed front and center at the table. Fried foods are eaten to commemorate the miracle of a day’s worth of oil lighting the temple for a full eight days. Parents prepare potato latkes or serve up jelly doughnuts for dessert. Everyone gathers around the menorah to light the Hanukkah candles, first one, then two, until all eight are lit on the eighth night of the Hanukkah celebration. Most families distribute small gifts to the children, one each night for each of the eight nights. Hanukkah gelt in the form of chocolate coins are a favorite treat that also sometimes are used as the ante for a game of dreidel. Songs are sung, and simple merriment is the spirit of the evening. Children look forward to the candle lighting, exchanging gifts, and eating the satisfying foods associated with the holiday. But in today’s busy, ever-changing world, families cannot always gather at the same table to celebrate the lighting of the candles. Some may choose one of the days of Hanukkah as the day for celebration.  Or, as I heard two young adult sisters discussing, set a date for face time or skype to share their Hanukkah. However you celebrate, whether you enjoy potato latkes or jelly doughnuts, whether you light candles and dispense gifts each night or have one day to celebrate the entire festival, may your Hanukkah be a joyous celebration and commemoration of a miracle that happened many centuries ago.

Thanksgiving, more than a feast 0

Thanskgiving3This week many of us will gather with family and friends. We will sit at tables set with Thanksgiving napkins, the good china or Thanksgiving-themed place settings. There will be centerpieces to delight our sense of sight and aromas to tease our sense of smell. In many families, a tradition is honored where each person takes a moment to share what they are thankful for. In most families, no matter what football games are being played, everyone comes to the table to feast together. In this holiday there is a warmth like no other. Yet, today our world is in turmoil. These are troubling, heartbreaking, and frightening times for many, making it imperative that we take the time to think about what we have. I know I and many others in this country have much to be thankful for. We will be together with our families and friends. We will honor the memory of a time when the natives of this land shared their resources with the settlers of this “new world.” They are our forefathers and we replay the meal with a menu that includes some of the fall harvest favorites, turkey with stuffing, and pies made from the fruits of the season. Thanksgiving is the time when even those who do it no other time of the year will stop and reflect about all they have: Family and friends at our Thanksgiving table; a home - warm and safe from the elements where we enjoy the holiday festivities. And there is so much more that we can add to that list. Almost anyone reading this blog will also be among those of us who have resources sufficient to purchase food to put on our table. And no matter how stressed we are, we have enough time to plan a menu, shop for food and party goods. Hopefully we have good health and the capacity for joy and laughter. However you spend this Thanksgiving, please remember to take a moment and express what makes you feel thankful this year. And, of course, be sure that are sufficiently sated so that you have the energy for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or however else you proceed to prepare for the winter holidays of Hanukkah and Christmas. Happy Thanksgiving.