I've needed to take a break recently from writing for personal reasons - namely, Thanksgiving and Chanukah coinciding… giving us Thanksgivikah… thinking about celebrating without my mother who made Thanksgiving a huge deal, as well as Chanukah - it's really hard right now.
But I want to bring you two ideas that she shared with us.
Coming from a family with five children, it was expensive for my parents to buy us all gifts for each of the eight nights of Chanukah. When we were a bit older, at least old enough to understand, my parents gave us each a night that we kids gave gifts to each other. To explain. The nights were given out youngest child to oldest - keeping in mind that the younger children would be less likely to give out fancy or expensive gifts - working up to the older ones who may have had some money from babysitting or chores. Gifts could consist of "coupons" of random things - like promising time to play together (with another kid), or even helping around the house (for a parent). It didn't have to cost money to give a gift.
I like this idea and hope to institute it in my own house one day. The idea that parents don't supply gifts all eight days is definitely a good thought. What is even better, is that the children have to give serious thought to what their brothers and sisters may want - to think about someone other than themselves is fantastic.
Regarding Thanksgiving, my mother used to distribute a copy of President George Washington's letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island for us to read. It speaks of religious freedom - which for the Jewish People, a people murdered with impunity for thousands of years because of our religion, was probably a huge relief to hear at the time. This is one of the reasons why we, as Jews, are thankful on Thanksgiving.
I include it below.
I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful Chanukah! Thanksgivikah!
Background on the Washington Letter
George Washington's Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport
While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.
The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.
If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.
The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.
It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.
May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.
May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.
Other random links:
Esti’s 8 Tips for A More Meaningful Hanukkah
Gobble tov! American Jews ready for Thanksgivukkah
Chabad.org - Hanukkah - Chanukah 2013
Aish.com - Chanukah, Hanukkah, Hanukkah 2013