Category Archives: holidays

Time to Cry Tuesday… Mom

Thanksgiving, like every holiday, starts off with the business of lists and recipes, shopping and cleaning and ends up where everything seems to, with the bittersweet memories of those we have lost.

“Umm… Ame, what is up with the ancient can of mandarin oranges and what do they have to do with your mom?”, you ask. Read on my friends. This one is just plain old freakish.

I spent a big chunk of the weekend reading expiration dates and tossing ancient items out of my pantry and fridge. It is really quite embarrassing, but frankly I suck at this piece of domesticity. I usually do it before the holiday visit from my nephew, the expiration date nazi, but sadly he will not be joining this year.

I digress. I had just finished making (not enough) cranberry sauce and was on the phone asking a friend about whether to use canned mandarin oranges in my fresh sauce. My argument in favor of this slimy little canned citrus was nostalgia. You guessed it, my mom always used them. I reached into the pantry and saw the condition of the can, realizing it had slipped through Saturday’s expiration sweep.

But then I saw something so startling that even the most stubborn skeptic could not deny.

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As the word ‘Mom’ left my lips, this is what I saw.

Yeh, I know, crazy, right? (and yes I am aware that this can expired over 5 years ago)

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So here’s the thing. This is no coincidence. Why the hell would DelMonte stamp MOM on the bottom of a can of (5+ year old) mandarin oranges?

Because, my friends, I really do believe they did not.

Here’s to you, Elaine, you cagey devil. And yes, I get it, I can’t possibly leave out the mandarin oranges.

“She lives on beneath everything I do. Her presence influenced who I was, and her absence influences who I am. Our lives are shaped as much by those who leave us as they are by those who stay.”

– Hope Edelman from Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss

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Filed under aging, food, holidays, moms, Uncategorized

Hanukkah Texting

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I do so love my group texts with my kids. I meet their expectations by always having typos.

Tonight I was feeling a little sad that I had spaced out on the whole Hanukkah thing with the family. For some reason I did not juggle a celebration into the schedule for all of us. This is utterly ridiculous since it is the first time in 7 years that all 4 of us live in the same place. Just another example of my Rock of Gibraltar-ness cracking. Let’s face it, this has been going on since 2008, I don’t think I can stake any claim to supermom status anymore.

Whatever, I did a dive save tonight.

You have to love Danny’s response.

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Filed under danny, family, holidays, Jana, moms, technology, texting

Time to Cry Tuesday – Olympic Ribbon Curling

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If ribbon curling were an Olympic sport, my mom would have surely taken home the gold. This woman lived to wrap packages. When the holidays came around she was in all her glory.

Today, being the first night of Hanukkah, I needed to do a little last minute wrapping and went in search of a scissor. There in my kitchen drawer I found one that I had rescued from her house when I was cleaning it out. I thought to myself, ‘just like Elaine to have a floral scissor.’ And then I remembered that I had bought it for her. Perhaps as part of a Hanukkah present one year. This actually looks like her!

At that moment I was so thrilled to have saved this item. There were so many things I had to let go of, but there are special little everyday items of hers that I have sprinkled around my house to remind me of her. Every room has a little bit of Elaine in it. My brother and dad notice when they are here. Hopefully it gives them the same comfort it gives me.

There is no real need to have her ‘things’ around, other than to make my home feel like hers did. She is everywhere I go, in everything I do. So much of her lives in me now. And I am proud to carry out her traditions, both big and small, to honor the type of mother she was. Again, I hope this gives my family comfort.

Let me tell you, that crazy ribbon curler would be damn proud of what her scissor and I turned out on that package tonight.

How lovely to share a little bit of Elaine on the first night of Hanukkah.

Happy and healthy to those of you who are of the tribe.

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Filed under holidays, moms, Time to Cry Tuesdays

Time to Cry Tuesday – Want and Need

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This might be the first post ever to combine Dave Matthews and the Jewish Holidays; but that seems fitting since this is a post about firsts.

Here we are – playing holiday dominoes – with those of the tribe watching Labor Day cascade into Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

This particular holiday is a tough one for our family. We are still stumbling through the ‘firsts’… the things we are doing for the first time without my mom. Although three and half months have passed, it seems like both a moment and a lifetime. Just when I think I have found my footing, my new normal, my ability to feel sad but somewhat whole, it hits me. I have avoided sharing here but somehow this seems the right thing to do, so here goes.

Although no one can stop me from starting to circle the drain, there is always someone there to grab my hand and pull me out. I have my army of grief guides; my friends who have been there and let me know with their steely strength that I will, in fact, make it through. In spite of myself and because of them.

I am beyond fortunate.

Yesterday I had just finished the massive guerrilla food shop. I was cleaning chickens to make my soup and as I was doing it I thought of how when I was first married I could not bear to clean a chicken and my mom used to laugh with me on the phone as I did it to talk me through. And it hit me. Hard. The drain, she was a- calling me to circle to the left.

And then the phone rang. My Rabbi! Seriously, do they learn this in rabbinic school? Do they become hyper-trained to sense the drain circling? Or was it a coincidence? I think not. He also called on her birthday without knowing it. Both times to check on me; to make me try to find the sweet in all the bitter. To hold my hand so I would not succumb to that proverbial plumbing.

I am beyond fortunate.

And then I had a nice long phone visit with my mom’s best friend since childhood – Aunt Arlene (who is not my aunt), as we called her. Her laugh, her stories, her way… all a piece of my mom. As we talked about how much we missed her I felt another hand reach through the phone to keep me from slipping down those pesky pipes.

What I want, is what I’ve not got. But what I need, is all around me.

Wishing all who celebrate a sweet new year. And all who are grieving the strength to stay away from the plumbing during the holidays.

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Filed under aging parents, friendship, holidays, loss

Jewish Hippies Rejoice

Matzolah

If you are celebrating Passover and are sticking to strict dietary laws of no leavened products, this matzoh-style granola will surely give your little hippie heart a thrill. And it’s made by Foodman! Does he have the help of Foodwoman?

I love the description:

Matzo (everyone spells it their own way, like Hannukah) Granola Breakfast & Nosh.

It’s sort of like my grandmother wrote that.

Thanks to my bro for sending me this one today. It made me smile. And oddly gave me a craving to stick my hand in that container and walk around barefoot in the streets with flowers in my hair singing Grateful Dead tunes…

in hebrew.

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Filed under family, food, holidays

Seder Snowstorm

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If you listen carefully this morning, you can hear a collective sigh of women throughout the midwest and east coast pondering pounds of brisket and gallons of chicken soup, wondering who will make it to their seder tables tonight. To think that our past worries were whether there would be an egg shortage due to the Passover/Easter proximity.

Here we were – certainly those of us who work full time – thinking how brilliant it was that the first seder fell on a Monday. We partook in leisurely shopping over the weekend instead of the midnight run to the all night grocers. We cooked in our pajamas and workout clothes and our phones were spared the gooey matzoh ball mixture of conference calls past. We set tables with extra care and woke this morning able to still put in a fairly decent day’s work before the reheating begins.

We plan and G-d laughs. A pending spring snowstorm that doesn’t even have the decency to show up early enough for any of our guests to be able to make a show/no-show judgement call before early afternoon is sort of the big Mother Nature FU.

My phone started buzzing with texts last night: “Weather update?”, “Any cancellations?”, “You changing yours to Tuesday?”

Holiday misery loves company.

Tonight, instead of the Four Questions there will be only one… will anyone be sitting at our seder tables?

In case not, anyone interested in a boatload of Jew food?

 

 

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Filed under food, holidays

God’s Love We Deliver Thanksgiving

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There are events in your life that change you. In big ways. That make you think, OMG why have I never done anything like this before?

This Thanksgiving we were fortunate enough to be part of just such an event, the annual God’s Love We Deliver Thanksgiving effort. Yesterday, we woke at 4:15 (ok, so I tend to be up then anyway, but Gary is certainly not), hopped into the city and jumped on the assembly lines of one of the most remarkable machines of humanity that I have ever seen. With logistics precision coupled with an undying spirit of combined compassion, humor and the sheer joy of volunteerism, 950 people came out to donate their time in the wee hours of Turkey Day to help make the holiday of the seriously ill a little more bearable.

In the neighborhood of under 7 hours, almost 3400 meals were assembled and delivered to 2014 homes; not just for clients, but for a guest, caregiver and children under 18 living in those homes. Not to be forgotten are the countless hours spent by the staff, prepping and cooking those meals.

Volunteerism. My dear friend Karen says sometimes she thinks that it is actually not a selfless act, but more a self satiating one, for the need it fills in all of us to help others. I cannot argue that point, for as amazing as receiving these meals is for those in need, the way we felt yesterday morning was a greater gift than we could ever provide. The people we met are veterans; most volunteers for this org are staff volunteers, meaning they work a set weekly shift, many more than one. The spirit of both having fun and the seriousness of the task is second to no other volunteer experience I have ever had. These are the kind of people we aspire to be. There is no place I can imagine spending Thanksgiving morning ever again. I have taken a big swig of this koolaid and nothing has ever tasted better!

Full disclosure, the over the top icing on the cake of this experience for us was that our oldest child, Jana, is the newest member of the GLWD staff. As a volunteer specialist, she took her special brand of camp counselor people skills and ran around with her clipboard and iPad, learning the ropes as the newbie in the dept. In the few short months that she has worked there she has experienced their gala fundraiser, worked the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, The Race to Deliver AND survived Sandy and her aftermath where they lost power and scrambled to save food and still deliver to those in need. Watching her do a job she loves AND being able to participate… Priceless!

Post Sandy has made me very reflective. I have yet to be able to finish my thoughts on that experience and get them down here, but I will. For now, I can say that being so incredibly fortunate surrounded by so much need has left me feeling highly motivated to do more. This chronic volunteer is ready to kick it up another notch. There is something about ground level, specific task driven volunteerism that leaves you feeling like nothing else.

The world is pretty broken, go out and fix a little piece.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and consider donating a portion of what you save on Black Friday to those in need. Hey GLWD is a good place to consider.

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Filed under charity, current events, food, holidays, Jana