Happy holidays, everyone!

Each fall our family goes apple picking with our “New York family” — friends who have served as our family while living far from our blood relatives.

I take all these apples and bottle up dozens and dozens of quarts of applesauce with my Victorio strainer, which I inherited from my mother-in-law, Jean Nelson.

In December, most of our neighbors drop off cookies and other holiday treats. My gift has always been this homemade applesauce. It is really pink, because it is made with the skins on, and it tastes delicious. Adults and children enjoy it, and it is convenient because it can be eaten at any time.

One year as I was delivering my applesauce, my neighbor David mentioned that it was the first night of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights.

One of the traditions of Hanukkah is to make latkes or potato pancakes, topped with applesauce. My bottle of homemade applesauce came just at the right time.

David was so touched that I would remember his special holiday night that at Easter he brought me a card and a gift. It was his way of saying thank you for recognizing and honoring his beliefs.

The following year, as Hanukkah was approaching, David and his wife, Laura, were having a conversation about food shopping. Laura mentioned that they needed to buy applesauce for the latkes. David responded, “No, Janet will bring hers.”

Our neighborhood is filled with people of many Christian religions, but also many of the Jewish faith. We attend their children’s bar mitzvahs and they come to our children’s baptisms and missionary farewells. When we go caroling up the block on Christmas Eve our Christian and Jewish neighbors open their doors and often sing with us.

To me this is the true spirit of Christmas. We open our hearts, our arms and our doors to all.

We love and support one another without regard to which church we attend on our Sabbath, or if we don’t attend at all. We respect and are aware of each other’s beliefs and values. We love our neighbors and the beautiful spirit they bring into our lives.

This is why we often simply say: “Happy Holidays!” because that covers everyone.