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Thursday, November 28, 2013


It is a historic convergence of two great cultural celebrations--Hanukkah and Thanksgiving, one religious and one societal.  It is the first and likely the last time in my lifetime that it will occur, and it seems particularly significant to me, because it represents both mine and my husband's cultural heritages.

I come from seriously old New England Puritan stock.  My ancestors left England not to seek their fortune, but to pursue their religious freedoms (which, given the restrictive elements of Puritanism, do not seem all that free, but it was important to them, and a hundred plus years after their arrival in this new land they fought for it's independence from England).  While the exact timing and location of the first Thanksgiving are unknown (and there are serious questions about whether or not it actually happened), the idea of celebrating survival in a new and fairly harsh environment was definitely something my relatives would resonate with.

My spouse is from an Ashkenazi Jewish heritage--his people immigrated to the United States more recently and while they have whole heartedly adopted the concept of being thankful about what one has, Thanksgiving has a different place in their cultural heritage.  On the other hand, Hanukkah, the festival of lights, is most certainly in his genes. It is a relatively minor Jewish holiday, but the act of lighting progressively more candles over the course of 8 nights makes for a joyful holiday, none-the-less.  We have often each lit candles on our own menorahs so that by the fifth night, they represent a thing of beauty or a significant fire hazard, depending on your point of view.

So this is the first time that something significant to both of us going back dozens of generations will occur simultaneously is something to celebrate in and of itself.

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