Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Holidays, however you celebrate them!

This was a week full of holidays for me- Chanukkah started on Tuesday, Winter Solstice was on Thursday, and of course, Christmas was this weekend! I am very lucky and blessed to have traditions to share with family for each of these holidays, and while I am not a practicing Jew and have never been a practicing Christian or Pagan, I am still able to derive a great deal of meaning from the traditions we have created, followed, and observed as a family. There are several themes that unite all the winter Holidays I celebrate: Family time, Fun, and Thankfulness. I made it my goal to intentially think about these things during my "vacation" time. I do things for a reason and I want to continue to make sure that I remember the message behind the holidays I am celebrating!

Yule Log- Whiteford Nursery, Sylvania, OH
 In what has become a great new tradition, two of our closest friends came over on Thursday evening to celebrate our 2nd annual Winter Solstice, and the beginning of lighter and longer days! We do this by exchanging small gifts, sharing a meal, enjoying a delicious sun cake from Dom Bakery. Then we make a fire in our fireplace, turn off all the lights in the house, and light the yule log.

We take turns sharing what we are thankful for in the past year and what we are looking forward to next year. Each of us lights a candle as we said our thanks, and the room grows lighter with each giving of Thanks and as the yule log burns down. It's a really nice way to celebrate the season, and add some careful thought back into a time otherwise overwhelemed with commercialism and rituals that can easily become stripped of their meaning.

Potato Latkes- always delish!
This year, my little family and I celebrated Chanukkah together by lighting the menorah, saying the prayers together, eating Potato and Leek Latkes, and exchanging presents. I also drove down to Toledo on Thursday, and went spent some quality time with my grandma, to celebrate. Several days later, Mike and I headed down to visit my parents, brother, and cousins, who continued the Chanukkah celebrations with more delicious food (traditional and not-so-traditional), as well as playing games and exhanging gag gifts.

Our holiday tree!
Since half of my family is Christian, every year we spend part of the holiday season celebrating Christmas with my Dad's side of the family in southern Ohio. While I don't see this side of the family as much, holidays are spent eating way too much, doting on the awesome little cousins, and spending quality time together. Mike and I also make sure we spend time with his side of the family, and on both sides gifts are exchanged; games are played, and many, many laughs are had. I don't have trouble deriving my own meaning from the holiday- I am really thankful for the kind, warm family that we have, and for the fun times we always have when we're together.

Happy Holidays! to you and yours this season.

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