Monthly Archives: November 2019

Protected: Arazim 11.27.2019: Early stages of our measurement exploration

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Protected: Aravot 11.27.2019: Self-Advocating, Advocating for Each Other and Building Resiliency Together

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Protected: T’zivonim 11.26.2019: “It would be better if there would be a ladder.” – Estee

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Protected: Alonim 11.26.2019: An Instance of Storytelling

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Protected: B’roshim 11.26.19: Exploring Liquid Water Colors

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Protected: Daliot 11.25.19: Reflecting On The Forest Walk Through Storytelling

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Protected: Narkisim 11.25.19: “This button to open the eyeball.”

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Community Blog 11.22.2019: Memories and Traditions

Five years ago, I shared a blog in this space sharing my thoughts on traditions; as Thanksgiving approaches, I felt it was time to add to this post and share a little more about our staff and our traditions:

It’s hard to believe Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  The hustle and bustle of shopping, cleaning and cooking has begun.  Some of us are hosting guests, some of us are traveling.  As I sat down to contemplate the blog for this week, the stress of the holidays was already peeking in.  It caused me to pause and  reflect on what makes Thanksgiving such a special celebration in my life.

As a teenager, my immediate family lived far from our extended family.  We chose to stay home at Thanksgiving and save the travel for other times.  This choice opened us up to the discovery of a new family.  We began celebrating Thanksgiving with friends from our church who are now “family.”  Thanksgiving morning we would wake early.  We would divide up.  Some of us headed out, while others headed to Carol and George’s home.  Those who headed out had a specific goal – the soup kitchen.  We spent our morning as waiters bringing others warm Thanksgiving dinners.  We greeted, served and listened to those who had nowhere else to spend their day.  I was always surprised by the joy and merriment that surrounded me.   After everyone had been served, it was time to return to Carol and George’s.  Those who were already there had spent their morning cooking us a delicious dinner.

The moment that I hold the most fondness took place as we sat to share our meal. This was the time to truly reflect on what Thanksgiving meant to us.  It was the time to incorporate all of our experiences and express our gratitude.  A candle was lit.  As the hostess, Carol often began.  She held the candle and expressed what she was most thankful for that year.  She then passed the candle and each person had the opportunity to share their gratitude either out loud or in their hearts.  It was a solemn but joyful time.  Each time the candle came my way, tears welled up.  (They well up, even as a recall the moment.)  My family and friends always came to mind, but the memories of my mornings always played in my heart.  I had much to be grateful for.   As the candle continued around the table we celebrated how fortunate we each were.  We then shared a delicious meal.

As our families have grown and moved, (each of us teenagers now has our own children)  distance has caused us to celebrate apart.  In my Mom’s home we continue the tradition of sharing our gratitude.  The candle is passed and each individual from my littlest niece to my Mom, each solemnly hold the candle.  Each time it comes my way, a tear comes to my eye because I am always surrounded by those I am most grateful for.

Tradition is what makes my Thanksgiving celebration meaningful.  I asked each of our teachers to share their traditions and memories as well.  Enjoy a glimpse into our celebrations.

Laura – RaRa’s chocolate chip cookies. One of my earliest memories is sitting under her periwinkle blue kitchen table in Wilmington, NC with a spoon of cookie dough. (I know that this may not be PC in 2019, but in the 80s we ate the raw dough!) I was wearing rain boots and a blue bathing suit with white polka dots. I was the only grandchild there that trip (pre-siblings, so I was 5 or under) and so I knew the prized mixing spoon would be mine. RaRa’s chocolate chip cookies were the best.They were crispy, but chewy, and just the perfect ratio of chocolate chip to cookie. These cookies became a part of every holiday, from big ones like Thanksgiving to a weekend visit, which she made feel like it’s own holiday. While she was still alive I watched her make those cookies hundreds of times, attempting to uncover the secret of their perfection. Now that she is gone I carry on the tradition-no gathering is complete without the homemade chocolate chip cookies. I don’t pretend that mine are as delicious as hers, but I follow her recipe and keep trying to master it. With my nieces (ages 4, 2, and 7 months) I pass the memories along. As we mix the flour and sugar together I tell them about how RaRa, their Wild Irish Great Grandmother, loved her family more than anything. We add the chocolate chips and I let them sneak a few from the bag because it’s what RaRa let me do. And of course as we clean up they each get a mixing spoon.

Allison – One special tradition that I have loved and looked forward to every Thanksgiving is making pumpkin pie with my dad. We would wake up early and start baking the crust. When the pie was in the oven, we would use the leftover pie dough to make a special “squirrel cookie ” to go on top of the pie. We had one random squirrel cookie cutter. We would put sprinkles on it while it baked to make it look pretty. Even though only 1-2 people would actually eat our pie at Thanksgiving, it felt sentimental, and everyone was always excited to see the squirrel cookie.

Marissa – My favorite Thanksgiving memory is one that kind of became a tradition between my sister, myself, and my cousin. One year when I was about 11 or 12 (sister 10 or 11, cousin 13 or 14) we found our old collection of dress up clothes (including my mom’s old bridesmaid dresses) and thought it would be funny to put them on. We thought it would be a great idea to run upstairs and show the adults our “fashion show.” They thought it was hysterical. Every year since, our parents knew to expect some crazy outfit selection/change in between dinner and dessert. One year, our makeup was the crazy addition. The tradition ended when we all started going to college. A few years ago, my younger cousins found the same dress up collection and went upstairs for dessert in crazy wigs (the youngest was still in high school). Maybe they were trying to keep the tradition alive.

Melissa –  Adam:  I was 15 and everything about Thanksgiving that year was untraditional as far as our family traditions went. My family was spread out in all parts of the world and unable to be all together for the holiday. My dad, 2 of my 4 siblings and I gathered at a hotel in Boston for the holiday. The city was cold, gray and seemingly deserted. It didn’t feel like a festive holiday to me and we were all missing our other family members. We went to the hotel’s rooftop restaurant, also deserted, to have our Thanksgiving meal. As the four of us sat shoulder to shoulder in a half-circle-shaped booth, in a viewless corner of the restaurant, a waiter named Adam filled our water glasses. When he poured water into my glass from a large pitcher, a bunch of ice cubes and water cascaded over the top of the spout and adorned my place-setting and lap. No big deal. My dad asked for a glass of red wine; he was brought white wine instead – he didn’t mind. These kind of meal-mishaps kept happening much to Adam’s dismay – but they really didn’t bother us – we were just happy to be together. During another refill of water, Adam, the water pitcher and my dad’s water glass collided, toppling the glass and dumping water on my dad’s plate of food, the tablecloth and his blazer. Again no big deal. During the awkward clean-up of water and table linens, my brother started giggling which got my sister and me giggling, which got my dad and Adam giggling. We became caught up in an infectious, collective laughter that shook us all silly. When we could finally look at each other without re-bursting into unmanageable laughter, Adam relocated us to a dry table – without water glasses – that overlooked the city. He thanked us for being patient and kind. Turns out Adam was brand new to the job; he was a college student working through the holiday instead of traveling home. My dad added an extra-big tip to the bill.

Lyssa – My family used to eat sliced bread, butter, and water for Thanksgiving dinner, as a reminder to be thankful for what we had. My mom had a big box of cookie cutters for the bread, and my siblings and I always had fun cutting out different shapes as we shared the things we were grateful for.

Nancy – Growing up my Thanksgiving traditions included a large family meal with watching the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade as a highlight.
With my own children our tradition includes creating a major vegetarian feast, staying in PJs all day, and playing board games together!

Pamela – My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because so many of my best friends come home. Every year my high school friends (including Yana!) get together the night before for Friendsgiving, and then we all spend most of our days off work together in Columbia and Baltimore. I don’t have a large family, so on Thanksgiving day my two best friends’ family comes to my parents’ house to celebrate with my family.

Kory – One of my favorite parts about Thanksgiving is spending the whole day cooking—and spending the time to make things from scratch. At my Aunt and Uncle’s house in New York that means roasting a whole pumpkin for pumpkin pie. It’s a little silly, but it also means whipping cream by hand… with a fork. We don’t even use a whisk! We pass around a bowl of cream and take turns whipping it until it’s just right. My brother calls this “The IKEA Effect,” the idea that something is more satisfying if you make it yourself.

This Thanksgiving I’m going to my future in-laws house in Arizona for my first Korean American Thanksgiving meal. I’m really looking forward to having turkey with kimchi and banchan!

Caitlin – My strongest memory of Thanksgiving is my family members, specifically my mom cooking recipes for other family members because she knew that it was a favorite of theirs. I think this is very common, but when I was young I remember asking my mom why she was cooking a food I knew she didn’t enjoy; she responded very nonchalantly that this was one of Ammy’s (my grandmother) favorite meals so she enjoyed making it for her. After that conversation I paid a lot more attention to the interactions and the various ways we say thank you to each other over the holiday, whether its through food or interaction as well as the way we gain enjoyment through sharing and giving.

Kate – My favorite Thanksgiving memory is of my dad. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and even though my mother was inspired by the “women’s lib” movement, my parents’ household roles and responsibilities were very traditional. However, on Thanksgiving, my dad was always in charge of making the turkey. A construction estimator by trade, he handled the job in a very analytical way, with lists, schedules, and timers. My sisters and I loved watching the care with which he tended to the bird, and his pride when it came out perfectly every time. He always used the same carving tools, a fork which my sister had made in junior high shop class. Although my dad is no longer with us, we still use that same fork and always think of him when we carve our Thanksgiving turkey.

Kuhoo – When I think about Thanksgiving at home, the first thing that comes to mind is the people who I celebrate with.   Ever since we’ve moved to America, we’ve always had our door and hearts open to share this American tradition with friends and family members from India.

A couple of years ago, my parents decided to host a huge Thanksgiving meal for our whole family in their new house.   My mom’s siblings came from all around America and Singapore.  I remember my aunt opening up bags and bags of oranges to make juice for us.  It was also the first year I got to meet my cousin-brother’s new wife and her sisters.  I had been unable to make it to their wedding, so it just felt super special that I was able to still meet her and start a relationship that day.   Apart from family at the table, we’ve also hosted my dad’s friend’s son every year. My dad has some very close friends in India, and when we know that their children or close loved ones are in America, we always make sure we have a seat at our table for them.   Daksh – is a big brother to me, and for me, not having him or my actual brother at Thanksgiving would seem slightly odd.

I know that as we get older and start moving away from home, I can still rely on my parents to host Thanksgiving and to invite new people, even a day before.

Heather – My favorite Thanksgiving memory is playing Scrabble with my grandma and cousins. We always tried to win against my grandma but never could, she is a literal walking dictionary/thesaurus!

Sandra – My Thanksgiving tradition revolves around family. Coming from a family of immigrants, and having lived outside the US for 25 years myself, Thanksgiving isn’t entirely part of my cultural tradition. As a child, my family gathered on Thanksgiving, cooking a Portuguese version of the Thanksgiving meal – Turkey was present, but the stuffing was made with Portuguese sausage and presunto. We had codfish cakes on the table alongside the cranberry sauce. We were all grateful for the opportunity to be together under the same roof, in the same country, though no one actually said those words. After moving back to Portugal when I was 12, we no longer celebrated Thanksgiving – it is not a Portuguese tradition. At first this saddened me, especially because my older sister had not moved with us and I missed her, but I soon adapted and no longer gave it much thought. Since moving back to the States, I have made it a point to drive up to New York every year in order to spend Thanksgiving with my sister and our families.This year will be even more special because my Mom has flown over from Portugal to spend it with us. I am very grateful for every moment I have with her, and for every moment that my children get to spend with their “Avó Maria.” I am grateful for family coming together, in person and in spirit, no matter how far apart we are during the rest of the year.

Paula – When I was growing up, my uncle was the doctor at Kenyon College, a gorgeous school in Gambier, OH. For many years on Thanksgiving, all of my mother’s side of the family would gather in my uncle’s huge house on the campus and spend all day cooking, listening to The Big Chill soundtrack (while singing loudly along), and playing football. We would always walk over to the campus bookstore, which was open, and throw a football on the way. Once all of my generation of cousins grew up and we moved all over the country, the tradition ended. But I will always remember the beautiful trees and the smell of autumn at Kenyon College on Thanksgiving.

Leslie – My favorite Thanksgiving tradition from my childhood always involved three things: Muppets, helping my mom cook her signature meals, and then IMMEDIATELY begin prepping for Christmas. We never had lots of family over; it was always just me, my brother and sister, and Mom. We would get up early, watch Fraggle Rock, and then start cooking. I would specialize in helping with the potato salad. Mom would always boil a few extra eggs for me to snack on (because she knew I was sneaking them as I helped her peel). 🙂  After we ate, we would watch more Muppets (“Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas”), and then put up the tree!

Evan – The details are fuzzy but I’ll never fully forget Thanksgiving 2009. My family and I broke our tradition of going to my grandmother’s house for the holiday and went to “Aunt” Brenda’s celebration instead. That was where I met my “cousin” Tyler, who was visiting from Atlanta. It was the first time we’d been together since we were literal babies and we hit it off right away. We played video games, watched tv, jumped on the trampoline, all kinds of stuff. When the night ended, my siblings and I didn’t want to leave and we begged our parents to let us spend the night (which they never let us do on short notice). To our shock, they agreed! We ended up spending almost 4 days at my Aunt Brenda’s with Tyler and his family. We went to the National Mall, the Harbor, and never got tired of each other. Easily the best Thanksgiving I’ve ever had.

Lauren – Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and growing up I loved waking up and watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I have 10 first cousins, and in the afternoon we gather at my Nana’s house in Arlington, have dinner together, and choose names for Pollyanna (or Secret Santa)!

Yana – I don’t really have a Thanksgiving tradition in my family. The most important thing during the holidays for my family is to have the whole family together in one room. Lots of fun and laughter happens when we’re all together. However, my roommates and I started Friendsgiving which we have every year on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. This will be our 3rd Friendsgiving that we are hosting. During this time we get to reconnect with our friends that we might not have seen for months. Lots of memories are created during this holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Manuella – My family’s yearly Thanksgiving tradition is to wake up at 7am, get dressed up, begin cooking, share stories, laugh and dance to Bob Marley, run last minute errands to the grocery store all day, only to remember that we forgot to put the turkey in the oven, go back to dancing and actually eat our Thanksgiving meal around 7pm 🙂

For us, its all about the the “process.” That’s where we give thanks the most!

As you join the hustle and bustle of preparations, take time to reflect on your celebration.  What or who makes it meaningful?  How are you creating memories?  Are you sharing the traditions of your holidays with your children?

 Shabbat Shalom and Happy Thanksgiving!



Protected: Aravot 11.20.2019: The Power Of Storytelling

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Protected: Arazim 11.20.2019: Drawing the other

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