Multiple celebrations

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Thankfully we had a great family celebration of Chanukah and Thanksgiving

With the Chanukah holiday beginning on Thanksgiving Day this year it gave my family added reason to celebrate. On top of it, my daughter Samantha celebrated both her birthday and 11th wedding anniversary. All this meant a lot of celebratory cakes and great get-togethers, but most of all, a time to give thanks.

Josh and I are so grateful to our staff and we gave them the day off Friday to enjoy a longer holiday and added some sweetness with a juicy apple pie made by one of our clients, Brooklyn Wholesale. I asked each staffer to stop for a moment and think of what they are most grateful for.

For me, it was having my daughter Elizabeth, who recently moved back to New York and is living with me with her darling Jonah and Addison. Since her husband passed away, it has been so good to have her work at our LIC Flea and Food market, vetting the vendors. She was in the office meeting with vendors when we gave out the pies, so she joined us in the conference room. I had said to myself my blessing this year was Elizabeth and she shared with me that she is grateful for me!

I’ve seen in life how from something awful good can come. I lived through that with my daughter Lara’s overwhelming brain damage. I thought my world had ended but somehow her problems gave me the strength to create an organization to help Lara. That group, Life’s WORC, has evolved into a $65 million agency aiding thousands of people with disabilities and their families. Soon we will be opening a building to service families with children with autism.

Many years ago, when I got divorced I cried for a year. But life was kind and I remarried Stu. We had wonderful years together traveling the world and sharing our families. He had four children and I had three and between us we had 14 grandchildren. So, from sadness came great joy. Something to be thankful for.

And during the pre-Thanksgiving dinner at my step-daughter Mimi’s home, I was grateful that old friend and talented photographer Dominick Totino came to take family photos. It’s so rare that we have all our children with us. So Mimi and Jim will have all three of their boys in a photo, I had all three of my children with their combined five children in a photo and my nephew and niece Rob and Robin Easton posed with their three children.

As an added joy, Judith Yunis, Stu’s only granddaughter, came with her boyfriend. He’s a nice guy, but I came to adore him after I tasted the creamy, crunchy, delicious Oreo cheesecake he made for all of us to enjoy. And did we ever! It was the winning dish of the night!

Now with Stu’s passing to have my daughter and her two darlings living with me fills the huge void of his loss. And to have a continued relationship with his wonderful children and grandchildren fills my heart. So I truly have much to be grateful for.

I hope each of you takes time to think of what you too have to be grateful for during this intense holiday season. Happy holidays to all!

My daughter Elizabeth, with Addison and Jonah, and my daughter Samantha, with husband Spencer, Morgan and Blake, lighting the Chanukah candles on Samantha’s birthday