If you embrace neither religion nor nationalism, you aren’t left many holidays to celebrate. Your own birthdays; New Year’s Eve. (My Soviet immigrant family didn’t know about solstice gatherings yet.) But tough-minded and hypocrisy-averse though we tried to be, we made room for two: Passover in the spring, Thanksgiving in the fall. These occasions were functionally identical. Both celebrated emigration, immigration, and their results. We were slaves, now we are free people. With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, God (or maybe the U.S. Congress) had intervened to get us the hell out of the USSR. Pass the cranberry sauce – but first, cue the large family gathering, table full of smoked fish and little Russian salads, and my grandfathers’ solemn toasts to the country that had taken us in and made all this possible.
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