While settling into our new house this summer, I unpacked several boxes that had been sealed for so long that the contents were long forgotten. Some contained treasures I was thrilled to find again and others were filled with junk that made me wonder why I had schlepped them around for so many years. But two boxes in particular, smothered in “FRAGILE” stickers and falling apart from thousands of miles of travel, stood out from all the rest. They were waiting for this house, this moment, for the big reveal.
One box contained the china I received as wedding gifts almost five years ago. Still in the original packaging, with not one dish broken or chipped, they gleamed eagerly. My husband quipped that if they’d been comic books we could have sold them in mint condition. The pile of discarded carton and foam packaging grew as I reverently unpacked each piece and beamed with joy that every piece had a home. I carefully arranged them along with a variety of other tchotchkes, marveling at the collection of treasures from so many places and generations.
Which brings me to the second box. Inside I found the few glass and silver serving pieces from my bubbe that I remembered from each yontif (holiday) spent together at her table. After years of wandering through the desert of disuse, they too had finally found their way home. They aren’t fancy pieces by any means and are clouded with age that no amount of cleaning will clear. But having them on my table this Rosh Hashanah will remind me of how my bubbe would make my favorite foods and repeat with every helping: “Ech azoy mein kind, ech azoy” (“Eat and enjoy, my child, eat and enjoy”). She is dearly missed and I hope her blessed memory infuses the yontif meal and the New Year ahead.
And so, with the new china commingled with the old, we will celebrate the first Rosh Hashanah in our new home in the spirit of l’dor vador: molding new traditions from those of the past and hosting our children’s bubbe and zeide for the week.
My parents are traveling from across the continent, leaving their community during the holidays for the first time ever to spend it with us. This may seem unremarkable to many, but to me, it is anything but. My father is 88 years old and traveling is not easy for him anymore. Yet, he is taking what strength he has and making the trip because he has waited for this moment for a very long time. Nothing could bring him greater naches (pride) than finally, after so many years of hoping and praying, eating a holiday meal at his daughter’s table, in her home, with her husband by her side, and his grandchildren adorably loud and rambunctious.
I cannot wait to cook for him; to share a hot meal and noisy conversation at a full table of family and friends; to bring him to shul to show him our lovely community and give him the comfort of knowing that we have friends here who are like family; and to watch his face as he hears his grandson say Hamotzi. There were so many years when I celebrated Rosh Hashanah alone, I cannot wait to celebrate at home with family.
We will pray that we can be together next year while silently acknowledging that with every coming year it will be a little less likely. But no matter what, the memories and traditions from this Rosh Hashanah will be passed on from one generation to the next. From my family to yours, Shana Tovah.