Being Patriotic on the Fourth of July


I grew up in a home where we celebrated our nation's founding and past in an overwhelmingly positive way. As I've grown my perspective has broadened and I've come to see social problems and worse as central to our nation's past. There are atrocities, such as slavery and the way the United States has treated native populations. There are also other problems that may be less stark but are no less important, such as the lack of rights for women or bias against our nation's immigrant populations. Eve … [Read more...]

The Holiday Season


So we have arrived in Christmas Month. Oh, I'm sorry, I meant December. Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas! It's just that it bothers me when we as though including Hanukkah and Kwanzaa makes the holiday season somehow equal when it really doesn't. Take a look around---Christmas reigns supreme. Christmas is a Christian holiday. It is often marketed as a secular holiday, but it can't be entirely divorced from its longtime religious roots. I myself like the Christmas season. I may be an atheist, … [Read more...]

Thanksgiving Stories and Traditions

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For those of us in the U.S., today is Thanksgiving. For the majority of Americans, Thanksgiving is best summed up as a combination of family and food (and sometimes football). Today I want to open the floor for swapping stories and traditions.My mother used to put two kernels of corn on each plate, and remind us that the winter after the first Thanksgiving was actually one of starvation for the pilgrims, the result of the added load of a shipload unexpected newcomers. She used the kernels and … [Read more...]

Thanksgiving Traditions Anyone?

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Thanksgiving is upon us, so I thought I would open a thread for swapping Thanksgiving traditions! Since Sean and I generally take the kids to relatives' homes for Thanksgiving we haven't really developed any traditions specific to us, but I have good memories of quite a number of Thanksgiving traditions from my childhood. I'll highlight two of these traditions to get us started.First, my mother would put two kernels of corn on each plate before the meal began. We would all sit down and look … [Read more...]

Let’s Talk about Halloween Candy


When I was a child, we didn't do trick-or-treating, but we did go to our church's harvest festival each year, which means we children did end up with piles of candy. Each year my parents put all of that candy up where we couldn't get it and let us eat it for only one half hour each Saturday over the next couple of weeks, until it was gone. This was a terrible idea. Not only did it reinforce that nothing was really ever ours, it also meant that every Saturday for a month we would cram ourselves … [Read more...]

Judaism 101: Thoughts on Passover


Given that this week is Passover, I decided to ask the Judaism 101 panel to share some of their thoughts on the holiday, and on what it meant to them. This post is the result of that conversation.(Judaism 101 involves ten Jewish readers of my blog answering questions about Judaism in a panel format. (I introduced this project and provided bios of each panelist here.) Feel free to ask questions or ask for clarification, but remember that the goal here is to learn more about other faith tra … [Read more...]

New Year’s Resolutions Anyone?


Happy New Year everyone!So ... I know, I know, the whole New Year's Resolution thing is cliche and can lead to feeling guilty later when you don't follow through on your good intentions, but I like the idea of sitting down and thinking about the closing of one year and the opening of another and what you can do differently and better in the new year.For this next year, I have not so much a resolution as a word: "balance." I have so many balls in the air right now that finding a good … [Read more...]