Hanukkah, Thanksgiving special year

It has been 125 years since Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincided. This year is a good time to tell children the story of both festivals. For more family teaching fun see and hear grandparentsteachtoo.org in English and Spanish.

Thanksgiving is celebrated at different times worldwide. It is a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the food harvest and the preceding year.

In 1621 the Pilgrims brought the religious celebration Days of Thanksgiving from Europe to Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1789 George Washington declared a day of thanksgiving and grateful hearts. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it an annual tradition in 1863.

Hanukkah is the 2,178 year old Holy Festival of Lights. It commemorates the victory of the Israelites over the Syrian Greek armies and the miracle of restoring the Menorah in the Holy Temple. Only one vial of oil was found, enough for one day and yet it lasted for eight days. Hanukkah is celebrated at home by lighting the Menorah each night, playing Dreidel, and eating special Hanukkah foods with family and friends. Some people also sing Hanukkah songs or exchange gifts. There are many library books telling the story and meaning of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving.

Potato latkes

These potato pancakes may or may not be a traditional Hanukkah food, but they are often served during Hanukkah, delicious, and easy for children helpers. Children may not like the spices listed so they can be left out.

Combine two cups peeled and shredded potatoes, yams, or frozen grated potatoes, 1 tablespoon grated onion, 1 beaten egg, 2 tablespoons flour or matzah meal, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons frying oil, (optional a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves).

Peel and grate potatoes and squeeze out any excess moisture. Beat egg and add. Then add matzah meal or flour and baking powder. Add spices (if desired) and mix well. Heat oil in a frying pan until hot and put a large spoonful for each pancake. Cook until brown and flip. Serve warm. For fluffier pancakes, separate egg. Put in the yolk. Beat egg white until stiff. Fold in egg white after all other ingredients have been mixed in. Children can help measure, mix, serve, and clean up.

Thanksgiving basket

Children may have difficulty listing what they are thankful for, but with a little preparation they will be able to warm everyone’s hearts with their honesty and love.

Days before Thanksgiving place a basket in the kitchen and label it “I am thankful for ” Explain that the family will place little notes of thankful things that happen from now until Thanksgiving. Children can ask someone older to print or draw pictures showing thanks for kisses, hugs, cookies, trips to the park, reading stories, or playing. Then Thanksgiving Day there will be many loving notes to share with no pressure.

Editor’s note: This column is penned by retired Marquette Area Public Schools teachers Iris Katers, Jean Hetrick, and Cheryl Anderegg. Esther Macalady is from Golden, Colorado. Tim Fox currently teaches at Superior Hills Elementary. It’s supported by Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, the School of Education, U.P. Children’s Museum, U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, and U.P. Parent Awareness of Michigan. Their book “Learning Through the Seasons” is available at area stores and www.grandparentsteachtoo.org. Their mission is to provide fun standards based activities that adults can do in the home to prepare children for school and a lifetime of learning and reduce the stress of child care.