02 Mar 2011

Tradition

14 Comments Personal Crap

I participated tonight in a tradition I had never heard of, and it was very special.

A few months ago we became friends with neighbors of ours who have a son a bit older than Garrett. I’ll just use their initials, “J”  (the mom) and “B” (the dad). They’re lovely and we enjoy spending time with them. G-Man digs playing with their kids.

Last week, B’s dad passed away. If you’ve read my blog, you know that my father died in July and that it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. When that happened to me, my friends stepped up in a way I never even knew was possible. I felt love and support from everyone in my life. I felt so blessed during such a dark time.

Well, as soon as I heard about B’s dad I wanted him and his family to know we were thinking of them. I know they knew. They asked several of their friends to be a part of a Jewish tradition tonight that I never knew about. You walk around the block, surrounded by friends and family, to signify the end of Shiva (the traditional seven days you spend mourning your loss).  Here’s an explanation of “getting up from Shiva” from aish.com:

“The house that the mourners live in for the week of shiva becomes a house of mourning. It takes on an ambience of solemnity, filled with memory, contemplation, and meditation. But it is a house where people will continue to dwell. The concrete act of physically stepping outside, walking around the block, and coming back in, says that this house and our relationship with this house will now be renewed.”

In all the years I’ve been to funerals and shivas, I’ve never experienced this tradition. I just called my mom to ask if she had, and the answer was, “No”.

I will always remember this night, even though it was completely casual and the people walking were having their own conversations and thoughts, even laughing and being silly. But that’s the point of it, isn’t it? Starting life again. It’s a tradition I will bring to future shivas (of which there will be few, I hope.) It was wonderful. And I feel lucky that I was asked to be a part of it.

It also reminded me why traditions are so important. They tie us to who we are, who our ancestors were, to our friends and our families. Even though I’m not big on organized religion, I’m proud of my Jewish heritage and the traditions that come from it. So many of them are a big part of who I am. I was pleased to learn a new one tonight.

14 Feb 2011

Best Valentine’s Day Ever

14 Comments Family

I’ve never liked Valentine’s Day. I’m not a fan of forcing someone to be nice to me, or tell me they love me just because they’re “supposed” to.

The last V-Day that Russ and I actually “celebrated” was the first one we had together, 13 years ago. We went out to a nice restaurant, had champagne and mediocre food, terrible service, and an awful time. It probably cost a couple hundred bucks, which we didn’t have at the time. We were miserable and vowed to never do that again.

My folks, however, absolutely loved Valentine’s Day. It was the only day of the year that my dad would pick what my parents would be doing, and more often than not, they’d go out to dinner with two other couples and have a blast. My dad always bought my mom jewelry and she loved it. She never understood why Russ and I couldn’t get behind the holiday.

This morning I woke Russ up with a card I had bought him a couple weeks ago. I just thought, “Why not?” I took the opportunity to tell him one extra time today how much I adore him. I also put a card in G’s lunch, from both of us. He told me he was so excited when he opened it! This morning, I spent an hour and a half at school with G, having muffins and tea and playing with him and all his friends and their parents. That was pretty great. I came home from that to a vase of beautiful flowers and a card from Russ. All good. All really good. And much more than we normally do for Valentine’s Day.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my mom to join us for dinner on V-Day. As usual, she asked why Russ and I didn’t do something special, and as usual I told her we don’t like this holiday. She happily agreed to come over. Today I made a big casserole and put it in the fridge. My mom came over at 3:00, all dressed up and beautiful, and she and I picked G up from school. She played with him while I made a salad and some veggies and put the casserole in to bake. Then at 5:30, my brother, sister-in-law and niece and nephew came over. My sis-in-law had made a chocolate bundt cake and bought fresh berries. We ate, laughed, ate some more, laughed some more, and even cried a little.

Garrett played for hours with his cousins, who built a fort for him when he wasn’t looking. They ran around, played games on the computer, played Wii Fit, and hid in the fort. We all ate dessert, watched some of the Grammys I had taped, and we all cleaned up together.

When my mom got home, she called and said she thought this was going to be a very sad day, her first Valentine’s without my dad. But it wasn’t. At least, it wasn’t anywhere near as sad as she had thought it would be. That’s pretty great.

So I think we’ve started a new Valentine’s tradition. It’s a tradition of love. Russ and I tell each other and Garrett that we love each other 1,000 times a day. And we mean it every, single time. We also show it in ways I couldn’t begin to count. We don’t need a holiday to celebrate that. (Not that you’re lacking in love if you DO celebrate! More power to you!) But how cool that we got to celebrate the love of family tonight. I feel very blessed.

18 Dec 2010

Flawless Saturday Question

28 Comments Flawless Saturday Question

What is the one gift you are most looking forward to giving this year? Can you already picture the look on the face of your child? Your parent? Your friend? Your grandkid?

I’m not going to lie. G-Man is getting quite a haul for Christmas. Some of it is stuff I needed to buy him, like a robe and warm, footy-pj’s. But he loves getting that stuff, so he’ll be thrilled.

He’s definitely getting some dinosaur stuff, which I know he’ll love, including a dinosaur caller, a dino blankie, and a head-lamp to look for dinos in the dark. But I think I’m most excited about him opening his indoor-tunnel-tent. We love making forts and watching movies in them, and this will be a whole new experience. I really think he’ll love it and I can’t wait to see his face when he opens it.

There’s one other thing I’m very excited about giving. This is an idea I heard from a friend of mine last year that another friend of mine reminded me of this year, that I’m sure is going to be the beginning of a long-standing tradition. We’re doing it instead of exchanging gifts with our closest friends. I encourage you to do something similar. Six of us are going to dinner somewhere VERY inexpensive, like Denny’s or  IHOP. At the end of dinner, each couple will leave the server a $50.00 tip. That’s it. No questions asked. It’s just a Christmas bonus for a hard-working server.

I’ll post about it afterward. We keep wondering what we’ll do if the server is mean or the service is terrible. I think, no matter what, we’ll leave the tip. It could warm the heart of an angel, or soften the heart of a grinch. It could go either way!

I look forward to hearing the gift you’re most excited to give, and whatever “charity” or fun tradition you might be starting or continuing.

Christmas is just around the corner, folks! Hope yours is very, very merry.

UA-54344670-1