Posts Tagged ‘ Hanukkah ’

Thanksgivukkah 2014: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Celebration

Monday, November 25th, 2013

ThanksgivukkahIt is, quite literally, a once on a lifetime moment (unless scientists finally resolve that whole mortality): Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, two very wonderful events, happening simultaneously. The next time that the first day of Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving will be in 79,043 years. So, of course, this confluence has its own name: Thanksgivukkah.

At our house, we’re extra-super excited, because Thanksgiving/Hanukkah Eve, the night we light the first candle, is also my oldest daughter’s seventh birthday. Happiness abounds! Of course, she’s doubly thrilled because of the multiplicity of presents this brings. (Among the things I am thankful for this year: Thanksgiving is not a present-giving holiday.)

How to celebrate? Buzzfeed’s got a mouth-watering Thanksgivukkah menu, for starters, and this Thanksgivukkah Pinterest board can keep you occupied for hours. Here on you can find these fun Hanukkah crafts and recipes, and a wealth of activities, crafts, and recipes for Thanksgiving. And don’t miss these Thanksgiving printables.

Personally, the double holiday doesn’t affect my family much–we’ll celebrate both as we always do. But I much prefer the mash-up of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah to the more routine lumping together of Christmas and Hanukkah. Giving thanks–for the miracles in our lives and the freedoms we enjoy–are central themes of Hanukkah, and of course, Thanksgiving. So perhaps the best celebration we can have on this day is to enjoy ourselves and take the message of these holidays seriously by giving thanks for all the blessings in our lives. I know that’s what I will be doing.

Still looking for great holiday-weekend activities? Find great around-the-house crafts.

How to Make a Thanksgiving Centerpiece
How to Make a Thanksgiving Centerpiece
How to Make a Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Image: candle and pumpkins via Shutterstock

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Happy Holidays from Parents!

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or another December holiday, it’s a magical time to gather family together to eat, drink (adults only!), and be merry.  Here are some ideas from Parents to make this season extra special.

Arts & Crafts

Food & Recipes

Family Time

Get more holiday ideas here and sign up for our 100 Days of Holidays guide to get more ideas for food and crafts!

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Christmas vs. Hanukkah, Round 2

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

I am proud to say that my 5-year-old appreciates the beauty of Christmas lights and at the same time understands, in her own way, why we don’t decorate our own home. “These people must celebrate Christmas,” she invariably remarks when she sees a house decked out to her liking. It’s an observation without judgment or envy, a sorting of the world to make sense of it. We have Hanukkah. Candles, presents, latkes, dreidels, and not trees, Santa, flashing lights, or nativity scenes.

Last year, I wrote about my concerns over how to raise children who can embrace and celebrate and love what we are without dismissing or diminishing those who are different. In the black-and-white way we tend to speak to our children, other people can too often be painted as wrongheaded rather than just different. I try to instill in my children an appreciation for and understanding of the complexities and diversity of life; in the words of my friend Brad Hirschfield (who wrote a book with this title), “You don’t have to be wrong for me to be right.”

At least in this regard, Adira seems to have gotten the message. It helps that Hanukkah and Christmas are close to each other this year and that for the first time she understands Hanukkah enough to be truly excited for it. Still, it makes me proud to walk around our neighborhood and discuss the holidays, admire Christmas decorations, and plan for our Hanukkah celebration. She even told me that one particular nativity scene near our house reminded her of a scene from her Passover book. Sharp girl I’ve got.

Adira has also thoroughly interrogated Sara, her nanny, about her holiday observances. She knows that Sara celebrates Chirstmas and not Hanukkah and asked whether any of the kids she previously babysat for were Jewish. Hearing that they were not, Adira understood and got excited for Sara’s first Hanukkah. She told her all about our customs and how we light the candles and give presents, and asked my wife for a $1 bill. Why? To give to Sara as a present. “Is it ok to draw on money?” Adira asked, wanting her present to be fancy and worthy of the occasion. Instead, she wisely decided to make Sara a present that didn’t involve a dollar bill. I guess my next lesson should be about understanding money, but for now, I will celebrate Hanukkah proudly with my family.

Image: Hanukkah menorah, donuts, and coins via Shutterstock.

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Shopping Online? Earn a $20 MasterCard Gift Card

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

GiftsHanukkah begins tonight and Christmas is less than a week away, but if you’re anything like us, you still have some holiday shopping to do.

If you’d rather shop from the comfort of your home and avoid the madness of the mall — again, like us — sign up for MasterCard’s “Here’s to Mom” program. It’s easy, just:

1. Enroll your MasterCard in the program here.

2. Spend $200 online between now and December 31, 2011.

3. Receive a $20 MasterCard gift card.

The $200 can be spent anywhere online and doesn’t even have to be spent on holiday gifts. Placing a big diaper order? Want to stock up on formula? Do it before the end of the year, online and with your MasterCard to earn a $20 MasterCard gift card.

Enroll in the “Here’s to Mom” program and read all of the terms and conditions.

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Happy Hanukkah Holiday Shopping!

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

As a kid growing up in a Jewish home, it was nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find decorations for my house…other than a menorah. Trying to find gifts for my family members? Forget about it! Manufacturers don’t make Hanukkah Santa hats or blue-and-white candy canes. Head into any  store and you’ll find rows of Christmas stuff, and if you’re lucky, a small rack dedicated to me and my fellow Jews. However, it seems this year that retailers are finally recognizing my shopping nightmare–and have granted us all a holiday wish: toys for those who don’t celebrate Christmas! Check out Build-a-Bear for quite a few blue-and-white customization options. If you don’t feel like getting creative, they even have a pre-made bear (featured to the right) all set and ready to buy! If you’re looking for a festive story time, you can check out the awesome Chanukah Lights pop-up book by Michael J. Rosen and Robert Sabuda. Then, when all is said and done, head on over to Dylan’s Candy Bar for a variety of Hanukkah themed treats to nosh on. They’ve got everything from Gift Baskets to individual chocolate bars to chocolate dreidels. Happy Hanukkah!

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Hanukkah Gift Guide from

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Wooden Torah toy setStill looking for unique Hanukkah gifts? We love the Hanukkah gift guide that has pulled together. Founded by a coterie of women and moms, is a new online marketplace that sells unique and affordable handcrafted, high quality children’s toys, clothes, and products from boutique artisans (some who are parents themselves). 

Each product is carefully selected to be fun, educational, family-oriented, and environmentally friendly–think the indie appeal of crossed with the mass-market appeal of  Plus, allows you to create customized gift wish lists for your children according to age and gender, so as your children grow up, the lists automatically change to reflect their age. 

For the remaining days of Hanukkah, you can invest in brown suede ankle booties to keep your tots warm, a wooden holiday puzzle set to challenge minds, and a colorful Torah set or a Shabbat set to teach Jewish values.

Even as you peruse the Hanukkah gift guide, don’t forget to help your kids celebrate the important meaning behind Hanukkah.

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Who Celebrates What: On the Lollipop Man and the Coming Baby

Monday, November 15th, 2010

HanukkahA few weeks ago, I blogged about my attempts to teach my 4-year-old to love and cherish our lives as Jews—and the traditions and beliefs that come with it—and at the same time understand, learn from, and respect the beliefs and practices of other people. In this case, I’ve been talking to her about holidays, and the fact that we celebrate some and not others, while different people have their own holidays that are theirs and not ours. Two incidents this weekend suggest that maybe it’s actually working, perhaps too much in one direction.

The first happened in synagogue. Every synagogue has a Lollipop Man, the old guy who hands out lollipops to every kid who approaches with an outstretched arm and a hopeful look in her face. The kids seem to instinctively know who the Lollipop Man is, even if they’re new in town, and the Lollipop Man is invariably fundamentalist about his mission, ignoring all parental entreaties  against handing more sugar to our children. On this particular Shabbat (Sabbath), my daughter was trolling for the Lollipop Man who gives out heart lollipops specifically (yes, we’re blessed with two Lollipop Men, only one of whom has the coveted heart-shaped ones). She was getting desperate, but alas, he was nowhere to be found. “Maybe he doesn’t celebrate this holiday,” she eventually said matter-of-factly, and dropped the subject entirely.

Then yesterday, my daughter was talking about her soon-to-arrive sibling, and raised a concern: “What if she is not Jewish? What if she celebrates different holidays than us?” We assured her that the baby would be Jewish like the rest of us, and we would all celebrate our holidays together.

Score one for universalism and respect for diversity. Maybe I need to emphasize the “tribal” part of the equation a little more!

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Christmas vs. Hanukkah, Round 1

Monday, October 25th, 2010

HanukkahThanks to the PBS show Caillou, my daughter, who is almost 4, knows all about Christmas–about Santa, Christmas trees, presents, and caroling.  Thanks to my wife and me and some quick counter programming on our part, Adira also knows all about Hanukkah, about the candles and presents and foods. She also knows that we don’t celebrate Christmas but her babysitter does, and that Santa is pretend, for everyone and not just us.

And so it begins. Thanks a lot, Caillou. I was entirely unprepared for a DVD from the library called “Winter Wonders” featuring an otherwise bland, bald kid (whose name is not Charlie Brown) to bring Christmas into our home. In  October, no less. But that’s parenting. We don’t get to choose the timing.

I am not squeamish about differences and diversity.  I’m the observant Jew who studied religious pluralism at a divinity school, and who’s written about everything from Hare Krishnas to Mormons to evangelicals.  The last thing I want is to bring my daughter up in a world where she thinks everyone behaves and believes as we do, or looks down on those who don’t. Well… maybe that’s the second-to-last thing I want–the very last being bringing her up in a world where she doesn’t understand, appreciate, and love our own tradition and heritage, and in which she is jealous or angry that we don’t do as others do. (more…)

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