Momlogic's Michelle: I am a nice Jewish girl proud of my roots, but due to my incurable case of holiday envy, I tend to feel sort of left out this time of year.
The holiday season is here, or as I call it, "Everyone Else Celebrates Christmas." Hanukkah is awesome with its story of miracles, tasty latkes and eight nights of presents. But I can't shake the fantasy of decorating a Martha Stewart-worthy Christmas tree with my future husband (who in my head is a body-double for Patrick Dempsey) and sharing a kiss with him under the mistletoe while our beautiful children open their presents from Santa.
Yes, I envision your Christmas to be just like this, despite what you tell me to the contrary. It doesn't help that all TV shows and movies focus on the holiday during December. Even my favorite radio station switches from pop music to Christmas carols.
I realize that Patrick Dempsey and I could also have a wonderful season lighting a menorah and spinning the dreidel. It's just that it gets a little lonely when you're often the only one in your social circle not observing such a major holiday. That's why I love Thanksgiving. It sounds corny, but it's truly a special day unifying us as Americans regardless of our race, religion or ethnicity.
Two of my friends host an annual pre-Thanksgiving dinner in their L.A. apartment on the Sunday before the holiday. Around 20 of us attend prior to traveling to our respective hometowns. The hosts cook a humongous turkey, and the guests each bring a side dish or dessert (I make an exceptional salad) and squeeze together on the living room couch and in mismatched folding chairs to eat.
We come from varied backgrounds, but we have shared memories of dinners with all the trimmings and watching football with our families. We unanimously agree that it's important to finish the meal with pumpkin pie.
I'm thankful for these dinners, because they give me a sense of belonging, reminding me that American communities are special because they can be so varied. I'm grateful on Thanksgiving that I live in a country where I'm allowed to express my own beliefs -- even if those beliefs prevent me from living out my beloved Christmas fantasy.