This is an extremely unique year. The holidays of Thanksgiving and Chanukah come together -- a phenomenon that happens so rarely that this "combo" will not occur again for another 70,000 years.
Jewish holidays follow the Hebrew calendar (It's 5774) and not the Gregorian calendar that we generally follow. Thus, for Jewish families it's an opportunity to combine these two holidays, both in a tradition sense and perhaps, even coming up with some "new" ideas.
Within my own family, Thanksgiving has always meant "lots of food" as well as "lots of people to eat that food." Growing up in Philadelphia, I recall smelling the food being prepared by my Mom who cooked up a feast. Participants included my Dad, my two brothers and usually -- at least one or two aunts and uncles along with their kids -- my cousins. Seated around the table were approximately 20 or more. That was typical. The dining room would be packed with "starving people" ready to devour the turkey and other goodies prepared. Let's just say it was a "non-stop eat-a-thon." Besides the "star of the dinner" -- the turkey, there were assorted side dishes. My Mom, at some point, started preparing a stuffing made from Rice-a-Roni. She always had green beans and mashed potatoes. We were "basic" eaters, nothing fancy at the table -- but all the food was delicious and plentiful.
When I began my own "family" and was ready to prepare a Thanksgiving feast of my own, I wanted to have "fun." I did not want this holiday to be "difficult" or "stressful" or anything negative. It was a time to be "thankful" -- thus, I wanted to enjoy the prep time.
I enjoy cooking. Being in the kitchen... reading recipes, deciding on a menu and preparing the food is something I like doing. It's not a chore. Thus, as I began my work of prepping the bird and doing all the other stuff associated with the holiday, I always tried to have a good time. After the turkey was ready for cooking and as I placed the "heavy" roaster dish into the oven, I would say something like "See you later Birdie." I'm not sure if the kids ever heard me, but it was fun. Then, I would start all the side dishes. I know that a favorite within my family was the "sweet noodle kugel." I cannot recall how or when this all began, but I know that Ed, Brian and Adrienne all liked this dish. I made my "kugel" with cottage cheese, sour cream, margarine, eggs, noodles (egg-free when they became available) and canned pineapple. (For those who may be thinking that I had meat and dairy together -- I obviously do not keep a kosher home.) When Brian became a vegetarian, I could still offer up the kugel for all to enjoy. However, when he announced he was vegan, I still made the kugel but came up with other dishes for him to enjoy. I have also prepared many "vegan" style dishes for the holiday including those made from soy and the famous "Tofurkey." I'm flexible. Tradition is wonderful but I'm ready to move forward -- ready to try new things along the way.
Life has indeed moved forward. Adrienne and Jason have a brand new home. Ed and I will be spending Thanksgiving / Chanukah with them. Brian now resides in Washington, D.C. and will have his own holiday experience. I will, however, be making "big bird" along with "latkes." Yes! It's definitely Chanukah and that means "potato latkes (pancakes) topped off with applesauce or if it all works out, I hope to prepare a dish that combines apples and cranberries. (Bringing the two holidays together.) There will be plenty of food. We will also light the candles on our menorahs as we celebrate the second night of the holiday.
The Feldmah Dynamic (Ed, Marilyn, Brian and Adrienne) may not all be together this year for the holiday, however, I'm sure that thanks to "technology" we will be able to share a few moments together. Holidays come and go and like I noted above, I believe it's wise to have traditions but it's also "smart" to go with the flow and be flexible. I want Adrienne and Jason to begin their own holiday traditions in their new home. I can't wait to see what they come up with and how I get to be a part of it all. Isn't like wonderful. We get to share these moments with the people we love and care about and in the process, we will build memories. It's those memories that allow us to keep traditions alive.
Wishing everyone a very Happy and Safe Thanksgiving. And to those celebrating Chanukah, may it be bright and happy as well. My best to everyone this holiday season. Good health always!