Friday, November 5, 2021

Holiday Mash Up, Secret Subject Swap


Parmesan Ranch Skillet Chicken cooks in one pan. Serve with the creamy sauce over rice or noodles. Dinner in ½ hour. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dinner

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 5 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. Read through mine and at the bottom you’ll find links to all of today’s other Secret Subject participants.



My subject is: When will you start decorating for the holidays this year?
It was submitted by: Tamara of Part-time Working Hockey Mom.

Well thanks Tamara, for freaking me out.
I'm sure this prompt would be better served had it landed in the in-box of someone who celebrates Christmas, as that was probably the intent. Jews don't do the whole decoration thing like Christians do at this time of year. I love viewing the lights and the wreaths and the beautifully decorated trees. All of those sights and smells create a holiday feast for the senses that I fully appreciate. I actually consider myself lucky, though, I get to benefit from the sights and smells and sounds without doing any of the work.
So I don't do quite as much decorating, but I also do it on a different schedule. I have a few things I pull out for Thanksgiving: pine cones and candles, and some wooden pilgrim and snowman decorations I love that I made years ago (with Mormon friends at their temple, btw), but that's pretty much it. The Hanukkah menorah, candles, chocolate gelt, and dreidels really don't come out until the first night of Hanukkah.
Holiday Mash Up | picture taken by, fearured on, and property of
The thing about Hanukkah, and why you've freaked me out Tamara, is that Hanukkah falls on different dates each year. Usually it's in the month of December, and most often later in the month. I do love when it coincides with Christmas. The reason it's celebrated on different dates is because Hanukkah falls on the 25th day of the month Kislev in the Hebrew calendar. And I just took a look at where that falls on our calendar. 
Bad luck apparently isn't the only thing that comes in threes, this year it's celebrations. Hanukkah is very, very early this year.
So in one week's time, from Sunday, November 21st through Sunday, November 28th, we will celebrate a family birthday, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah. All mashed up together. 
Bad news, good news.

I'm not saying that's bad news exactly, but as each celebration takes time and planning and preparation, and shopping, and cooking, and baking, I wouldn't mind if those dates were spread out a little more. Just sayin'.

The good news is that, with us still uncertain about the safety of being in airports and flying, if the weather cooperates (cross your fingers, please, toes too), PurDude will be coming home for a week (I'm actually pushing for two). That means he could actually be here for all three. 

The decorations may be easy, but the meal planning will be a challenge. Not only will we have the special birthday dinner, the turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, and the prime rib dinner (and latkes) for Hanukkah, but I get PurDude here so infrequently, I try to make his favorite meals every night he's here.

Parmesan Ranch Skillet Chicken cooks in one pan. Serve with the creamy sauce over rice or noodles. Dinner in ½ hour. | recipe developed by | #recipe #dinner
Parmesan Ranch Skillet Chicken

As I do every year, I'll decorate our pantry door with all of the holiday cards we receive. And this year, each night for an entire week, we'll sit in the den by the fire with cocktails in our hands, appetizers lining the counter, and the tempting smells of holiday dinner starting to permeate the house. 
And I can guarantee you that I will fully appreciate the rarity of us all being home together again. 
Turns out the best decorations aren't the ones that are displayed, they're the ones who arrive.
So for however long he can be here, looking around at faces of my family will be all the holiday decoration I could ever want.


Secret Subject Swap, a multi-blogger writing challenge | developed and run by | #MyGraphics Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

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What TF Sarah 

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

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Parmesan Ranch Skillet Chicken        

Printable Recipe

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt, pepper, garlic powder
2 TBSP butter
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
1 cup parmesan ranch salad dressing
1/4 cup white wine (can substitute chicken broth)
1 TBSP dried chives
5 oz grape tomatoes
2 TBSP grated parmesan cheese

*Coat a large skillet with non-stick spray and place on the stove over medium heat. 
*Once the skillet starts to get hot, add the chicken and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook until the bottom is browned, turn over, sprinkle the other side with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and cook until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from pan and keep warm.
*Melt the butter in the same skillet. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook and stir until the mushrooms soften.
*Add the parmesan ranch salad dressing, white wine, and chives to the pan. Bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes and chicken to the pan. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, spooning sauce over the chicken now and then. Sprinkle with the grated parmesan cheese and serve.


  1. Sorry I freaked you out! I deliberately said "Holidays" instead of "Christmas" because I didn't know who would get the prompt. And getting out the Menorah qualifies as decorating in my book. I love where the prompt took you though. Perfect conclusion!

    1. Thanks, I like where the prompt took me too, to what's important.

  2. Being in an interfaith marriage, while my son was growing up I decorated for both holidays, sort of a mash up of traditions. Then, with my young son, we would play dreidel next to my Santa collection and play a Hanukah song tape. But Christmas holds a lot of memories for me. I loved, as a child growing up in New York City, going downtown with my Dad to see the store windows downtown. And at least once, we went to Macy's Herald Square (the flagship store) and watched the throng of last minute shoppers. Now, I am back to just seeing what other people do (although we do have a Christmas tree, and we'll have my favorite Hanukkah foods - brisket, latkes and homemade applesauce. Alana

    1. A lot of what you said resonates with me, I'm actually in the process of writing a post about our interfaith holiday mash up.
      And when I worked as a buyer, I'd spend a week a month in NYC. Never missed visiting those downtown store windows in December.

  3. Ohmyword, you are SO right! The best decorations are those with a smile!
    In December 2019, I hung our Christmas stockings in their usual place (and you have to know there are a LOT of them). Then, because we left for our snowbirding on the first of January, I took down everything except those stockings. We got home from our holiday just as Covid was beginning. Because I was locked away from my family, I decided I would leave them up till we could all be together once more. I'm still waiting. And they're still up.
    Love those pilgrim and snowman decorations! I think I made the same ones!

    1. I hope those stockings get to see all of their owners very soon.

  4. I used to love to decorate but I haven't been able to enable that enthusiasm for three years now... I do enjoy looking for a tree for mom and dad and I love the holiday season. Maybe I'll get it back one day.

    1. I hope you find your enthusiasm again, to enjoy what once made you happy.

  5. We moved in January of 2020, so our first Christmas in our new condo was last year...and without the ability to have family over I barely did any decorating. I'm excited to see what this season looks like.

    1. This year is a bit iffy, but I hope that next year we can go back to happier, family and friend filled holiday seasons.

  6. The whole point of How The Grinch Stole Christmas is this same thing, that it's the people with whom you celebrate, not the gifts or d├ęcor or anything else.

    May we all remember that this season, especially.

  7. Love that you're temple accepts interfaith, and wow those are so cute.

    1. That was the Mormon temple, ours are much less accepting.

  8. I am so thrilled for you! I know how much you must be looking forward to having everyone home. So, as we've discussed being Jewish I've decided to go back to my ancestry. I am German so maybe with my dad being an orphan he didn't know he was Jewish. My family was already here during WWII so at least I know they weren't Nazi's. I don't know if I could handle that. I've been obsessed lately. I find myself needing to understand how so many people could have been complicit.

    1. That whole disgusting piece of history is made so much worse by the current realization that we learned nothing about that level of evil.


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