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Menorah at Christmas- Thanks, Barbara

I raised my two older children on the Upper West Side in New York City. They grew up in a small apartment, in a close neighborhood, in one of the busiest cities on earth. There was not much to see from our windows, only the building across the alley and a few roofs and water towers beyond but we did get magnificent view of the world. From our few square feet near central park we had fabulous adventures and met fascinating people. They went to a private prep academy a few blocks down the street but the clash of cultures and bustles of people was as much a learning process as the ivy covered brick walls of school.

Across the hall of our art deco building lived the woman who was "grandma" to my kids- Barbara. We were far away from family and she steeped easily into the role of granny. Barbara helped with Halloween costumes, she came to birthday parties and invited us over for dinner on Sabbath. It was in Barbara's living room that my children and I enjoyed our first Seder and learned to play dreidel. Some of the Jewish celebrations and customs we learned sitting at Barbara's table became part of our own family traditions.

We are raising our younger ones in a small desert town in Utah- nearly the complete opposite of the life my older kids grew up with. This last spring we invited friends over to celebrate a Seder. We told the stories the same way Barbara had told them to us in New York. As we head into the holiday season this fall, my nine-year-old has already asked me to order some gold chocolate coins so he can teach his friends how to play dreidel. During the holidays we have had many long tournaments on the floor of the family room.

I love the holiday season. I love every bustling, crazy moment. I love the turkey and the latkes, the lighting of the tree and the lighting of the menorah. I love that parts of my culture, religion, ancestors and friends all come together in the traditions we keep and create today. I love the fact that it is is a time when so many parts of our past converge to brings us joy today and make memories for tomorrow. Thanks, New York City. Thanks, Barbara.

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