What I learned when I tried to make my blended family a gluten-free, kosher, no-soy, vegan, organic, low-acid, no-dairy Thanksgiving

What I learned when I tried to make my blended family a gluten-free, kosher, no-soy, vegan, organic, low-acid, no-dairy Thanksgiving

[Ed. – She forgot halal.]

It was the first Thanksgiving of a second marriage. Our six kids — three his, three mine — would be with us, as well as all four of our parents, three of our siblings, a handful of nephews and assorted family friends.

I had announced early on that I wanted to host Thanksgiving. For the duration of my first marriage, the holiday had belonged to my then in-laws. Thanksgiving — the only secular holiday we celebrated amid the long lineup of Jewish holidays — was parceled out as a consolation for the fact that we spent Passover Seders with my parents.

But now that along with my marriage, I’d left the Orthodox Judaism with which I was raised, Thanksgiving presented a new possibility. With my parents and siblings’ families — all Orthodox — each holiday came with an established set of religious practices, a scripted set of laws. For my new husband and his family, who were also Jewish but decidedly secular, these rules felt like restrictive impositions; they didn’t want to partake of a religious world in which they didn’t believe.

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Could Thanksgiving, a day without religious rituals or rules, somehow represent neutral terrain — a holiday for all of us?

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