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    Posted December 7, 2012 by
    mixedblessin
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Blended holiday traditions

    Cards Blend the Holidays

     
    Growing up Jewish in New York City, Philip and Elise Okrend celebrated Hanukkah without giving much thought to Christmas.

    But suddenly everyone they knew was in an interfaith relationship. There was David who was Jewish, and his girlfriend, Pat, who was Roman Catholic -- Elise's good friends at the advertising agency where she worked. Then there were their classmates from Binghamton University -- all intermarried. And their cousins. Even Elise's brother.

    The question, "What do we do about this year's holiday cards?" became particularly thorny

    An art major in college, Elise Okrend decided to draw an interfaith card -- a Jewish star with one side resembling a Christmas tree. Inside it read "Happy Holidays."

    From that first interfaith card has grown a business. Mixed Blessing, www.mixedblessing.com is an interfaith and multicultural holiday card company with about 50 designs.

    Our business is about helping people find a solution for the holiday season," says Elise Okrend, who runs the business out of her Raleigh home. "We're giving them a solution that's dignified, fun and creative.

    Nearly half of American Jews marry outside the faith, and sending a Christmas card or a Hanukkah card to an interfaith couple can be a recipe for offense. Sending a photo of a winter scene is safe but generic

    The Okrends wanted to pay their respects to both faiths -- recognizing each as valid and, beyond that, celebrating the tolerance they think makes this country great.

    Cards Elise Okrend has designed over the years include this year's best-seller -- depicting two children snuggled on a couch one reading "The Lights of Hanukkah" the other "A Christmas Story". Another card features three homes decorated for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, with smoke coming out of each chimney to form "peace."

    Our goal is to move people to a place where we hope the world will go -- tolerance and diversity," Philip Okrend says. "Otherwise we'll destroy ourselves."

    This Hanukkah, the couple will gather in the living room of their home to light the first candles of Hanukkah and exchange gifts with their two sons, Jordan and Joshua. They'll make latkes, maybe even pull out the dreidel.

    All the while, they'll know they've made an effort to respect their many family and friends celebrating other traditions

    Excerpt from our story written by Yonat Shimron

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