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home for the holidays

Last year Hanukkah coincided with Thanksgiving. This year, it practically ran into Christmas. We lit candles, gave Munchkin his presents, watched him ignore the gifts and chew on the wrapping paper instead. Judaism has quite a number of somber observances; along with Purim, Hanukkah is the best-known holiday that makes this religion fun. It is better to celebrate with children, and as Munchkin is still too young to fully grasp the significance of the festivities, we threw a kid-centric party to mark the occasion.

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Having a couple dozen young children tear around the house may sound like a disaster waiting to happen, but remarkably it only took half an hour of cleaning up after the guests left to return the house to its original pre-party state.

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It probably helped that the dreidel game proved so engrossing for our young guests. In addition to having four children of her own, one of our friends works as a school guidance counselor, and she single-handedly kept about a dozen kids entertained.

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Istanbul marked the end of our travels this year, and we’ve spent the last month or so fighting the urge to go into hibernation mode. Fortunately, with the exception of a week of icy rain, the weather has been mostly mild and there have been enough events to draw us out of the house every weekend. One Saturday S volunteered at the Winter Bazaar, an annual charity sale organized by the International Women’s Club.

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Another weekend we went to a fashion show, which are all the rage in Moldova. The designs were rather conservative for high-end women’s fashion, but S found a number of the outfits quite interesting and eminently wearable. Also, the event was held at Chisinau’s Ethnographic Museum, which is worth a visit on its own merits.

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With President Obama’s executive order giving federal employees an extra day off after Christmas, we are looking forward to a four-day weekend. Just as our non-Jewish friends came over to help us celebrate Hanukkah, we will be returning the favor and celebrating Christmas with friends. Happy holidays to all of you!

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