Sharing the Holidays Through Christmas Letters

Central Park, Manhattan

My wife’s family lives in South Carolina, mine lives in Tennessee, and we live in New York. We don’t get to see either side as often as we’d like, though we fly south when we get the chance.

The holidays are a problem.

We want to see both families, so we try to divide and conquer. We spend Thanksgiving with one side, and Christmas with the other.

Both families want us for Christmas, though, so we alternate years. Last year was Christmas with her family, and this year we’ll be with mine. It’s the best we can do, but it’s far from perfect – one family always misses out on Christmas morning.

We make phone calls and send gifts, but what really helps is the Christmas letter. When we mail our Christmas cards, we enclose a 1-2 page letter describing highlights from the past year, along with a couple of photos and funny stories.

Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. The holidays are a time for storytelling and reflection, and these letters help our friends and family feel more connected to us.

Even if you don’t have time to write a letter, you can send a photo card with a personalized message. Family photos are great, but pictures with a story behind them can be even better. Find a way to let loved ones into your life this Christmas, even if you can’t be with them in person.

Do you send an annual Christmas letter?

Photo credit: Jon Nicholls

Thanksgivingukkah: Two Holidays in One, and Just This Once

Happy Thanksgivingukkah!

As a child, I had a couple of friends whose birthdays fell on or near Christmas Day. I remember thinking that sounded pretty great – that it would make both celebrations more special. In reality, though, my friends felt like they were getting a raw deal. Instead of two celebrations, they only got one, and they had to share it!

This month has its own combined celebration: in an incredibly unique overlap, Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah both fall on November 28. This once-in-a-lifetime coincidence is made possible by an unusually early Hanukkah, and the fact that Thanksgiving falls on the latest date it can possibly occur.

Mathematician Jonathan Mizrahi has worked out some fascinating information about this unique overlap, which the internet has dubbed “Thanksgivingukkah.” The last time this occurred was in 1888. The next time won’t be until the year 79811.

Yes, you read that right: this is the last Thanksgivingukkah for more than seventy-seven thousand years!

Remembering my friends with the Christmas birthdays, I think I’ll send two cards to my Jewish friends this November: one for Thanksgiving and one for Hanukkah.

How are you celebrating this once-in-a-thousand-lifetimes occasion? Let us know in the comments.

Happy Thanksgivingukkah!