Dec 19 2013
As I’ve written about here before, my ex converted to Judaism before we got married and his mother converted to Judaism after we got married. My ex’s father still celebrates Christmas and our sons have visited him and his wife every Christmas of their lives. This Christmas experience has, for them, not been a religious one, but rather a festive meal not unlike Thanksgiving; a pretty tree decorated with, among other things, Star Trek ornaments, and more gifts than they get for Hanukkah.
It is very clear to my sons that we don’t celebrate Christmas and that we honor their grandparents who do celebrate Christmas by visiting them on December 25th.
I respect Christmas in all of its forms of celebration and I do not begrudge people celebrating Christmas. Here’s why I’m not bummed out that I don’t. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 2 2013
A still from the video of the Maccabeat’s cover of Matisyahu’s “Miracle.”
Since Hanukkah fell on Thanksgiving this year–or did Thanksgiving fall on Hanukkah rather!?–I wanted to share eight things I am thankful for so far this Hanukkah. Context: I just got back from the weekend with my ex and our sons at my ex’s mom’s house. All of us together. In one house. For three nights. Cozy wozy, indeed.
1. I am grateful that my ex and I communicate so well, even when it’s hard. We planned the gifts, the travel, the meals; everything together.
2. In my dreams I would do a “No-Gifts” Hanukkah, but in reality, the ex and I made modest choices that suited both of us not perfectly, but reasonably. We chose medium and small gifts our boys truly have been wanting and will hopefully enjoy for a long time.
3. I love celebrating Hanukkah with my ex’s mom who converted to Judaism from Mormonism about six years ago. She is such an inquisitive Jew, and she studies more Torah and Talmud than most Jews from any denomination that I know. She makes a mean latke and even buys vegan sour cream for me to smear on mine. And she doesn’t even complain about how every Jewish food is destined to make us all fat, and her kitchen stove top all greasy. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 14 2013
I’m not always the best daughter. Sometimes I’m impatient, short-tempered, bossy, and annoyed with my mother. I work hard to promptly apologize to my mother when I’ve not behaved nicely but I admit that I don’t always do that perfectly either. I may be able to make up for every prickly thing I’ve ever said or done to my mother with this post, because I would like to talk about how she prepares for holidays such as Thanksgivukkah, which happens in a few weeks.
My mom is a great cook. Her Hungarian mother was also a great cook and I bet my grandmother’s mother was a good cook too, and so on, all the way back. My mother specializes in all kinds of food but her presentation, her attention to detail, and the joy with which she cooks and serves food are also noteworthy.
Since I had my first son eight years ago, my mother has started the mini-tradition of writing up menus before holidays. This serves a dual purpose. She is a Type A list-maker and, thus, making menus satisfies her list making needs. Secondly, she likes me to consult about the menu, make changes as needed, and select which items I will be helping with. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 12 2013
This year, for the last time until about 80,000 years from now, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day. Thanksgivingfully (hahaha), Hanukkah goes on for eight nights but Thanksgiving is only one. This means that for those of us who value the religious, spiritual, and cultural significance of Hanukkah, it won’t be completely engulfed by Thanksgiving. We’ll have seven more nights to sing Maoz Tsur and spin the dreidel.
However, for those of us with children raised in a day and age when Hanukkah has become synonymous with gift-giving, this coincidence becomes a problematic one. Case in point: my 5-year-old seems to think that Thanksgiving is a gift-giving holiday since he has heard that Hanukkah falls on the same day. I keep telling him it’s Hanukkah that he thinks of as a gift-giving holiday, and he looks at me like I’m insane. In his little brain, they are on the same day, and he therefore expects gifts on Thanksgiving. Hence, it’s a gift holiday. Sigh.
Why do I have a problem with my son associating Hanukkah with gift-giving? The first reason is that historically it hasn’t been associated with gifts, both in the greater Jewish population and in my family in particular. When I was growing up, my parents typically gave me new pajamas, a new wall calendar, and some collection of stationery items (pencils, note cards, erasers) as gifts. I always got at least one new dreidel for my dreidel collection. And of course, chocolate Hanukkah gelt. There may have been some years when I received a toy but my immediate association with Hanukkah when it comes to the notion of gift-giving is one of small gifts that were primarily functional and generally elicited eye-rolls and complaining from me because I thought all of that stuff was lame.
Except the Winnie the Pooh PJs I got when I was about 8. Those were awesome. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 13 2013
Yom Kippur begins tonight. I heard something from a friend of mine that he read on a Jewish website that resonated with me and I thought I would share it for Yom Kippur.
Shana Tova is how we say Happy New Year, but the literal translation is “Good Year.” There is a word in Hebrew for happy, of course (there’s not one for “like” though, just “love.” Interesting, right?! The Hebrew grammar nerd in me loves tidbits like that). But we don’t wish each other a Happy New Year, we wish each other a Good one.
What does this mean? Well, for starters, I don’t know God’s thoughts. No one can know God’s thoughts. Einstein famously said, “I want to know God’s thoughts. The rest are mere details.” But we can’t know. God is unknowable, and we can only grasp a sliver of the entirety that is the infinite Ein Sof (literally, Without End). Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 9 2013
Playing trumpet on the Arsenio Hall Show!
Rosh Hashanah has come and gone. It’s 5774. This was a hard New Year, since it’s my first one spending it divorced, but as I wrote about before the New Year, I was blessed to spend it with my ex and our boys and my parents and all in all, it went well.
I don’t really make New Year’s resolutions like some of our Kveller writers did this year, but I found one on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 4 2013
The Jewish New Year is upon us. I don’t know about you, but the High Holidays really snuck up on me this year. Perhaps because they came a month earlier than usual (our lunar calendar is due for the solar correction of an extra month next year), or perhaps because this has been such a big year for me full of changes and busyness; I don’t know. They just snuck up on me.
That being said, here are the Top 5 Things On My Mind this Rosh Hashanah. Some are Rosh Hashanah-related, some are not.
1. My first son was born between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and bears the middle name “Rosh” in Hebrew because of that. Every year since I was pregnant with him, I make a plum cobbler with plums from my mother-in-law’s plum tree and freeze it to eat on his birthday. This year, because of the Jewish calendar being so early, his Hebrew birthday falls about five weeks before his secular one. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 12 2013
In light of my post earlier this week about my HTC dying, our power going out, and the slug dying in my bathroom, here are a few other things that also happen to famous people.
1. Skunks die in the front bushes. And we don’t figure it out for three days and we keep looking for the source of the skunk smell but can’t find it. So our almost 8-year-old sons find it in two minutes of looking.
2. We find screws in our tires. As I was making a quick run to the grocery store with my kids, this happened. The quick run quickly became Mama filling the tires with air at a gas station (after getting quarters from the man behind the counter because of course AIR IS NOT FREE) because my beloved Audi A4 had a “low air” sensor. The filling the tires with air became, “Oh my gosh, that’s a screw in my tire,” which became, “Can I find a tire center open on Sunday before this tire blows?” which became hoping that the tire guy doesn’t rip me off and being happy that they patched the tire for $25 rather than making me buy two or–perish the thought!–four new tires. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 29 2013
Pesach was good! Mid-divorce, I hosted everyone. And it was great.
In addition to my I-still-call-her-my-mother-in-law and Michael, my parents were there and my uncle. My closest and oldest friend and her 7-year-old daughter came and the kids had a blast. Her 7-year-old and my 7-year-old even let my 4-year-old find the afikomen because he was literally having a fit about the possibility of not finding it, starting at about karpas. Thank you, mature 7-year-olds! Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 19 2013
Passover is upon us and I am sort of almost ready. Because of my car accident seven and a half months ago and my tendinitis which I am just finally over, my cleaning and cooking will not be as thorough and rigorous as I like them to be, but I am doing things differently this year and that’s a good thing.
Here are the things I am doing differently:
1. Not obsessing as much as I like to. Traditional Judaism is a beloved religious undertaking for those of us on the Obsessive-Compulsive spectrum, with its myriad boundaries, numerical rituals, and things to do and not do in order to be “right” with God and the world. Even our spring cleaning is regimented, to a certain extent, and I usually take this time of year to go totally nutso bonkers with my cleaning. This year, it will be more by-the-books and I will save the super duper magnifying glass-type of scouring for another time when my hand is better. And that’s ok. Read the rest of this entry →