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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 5/20/05

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Dear Rachel,

What a different world we live in today. My mother would so look forward to our coming home, especially for Pesach. (See Chronicles Apr. 8) The only thing that made her sad was the end of Yom Tov, when we would be getting ready to leave.

As much as we helped out, my mother would be up until the wee hours of the morning making something special for us and our children. Her reward and nachas was seeing us happy and watching our children grow. When we made our own first Pesach, she failed to understand. Had I only known then that we would have but a few more years with her.

I ask Hashem to grant us a long and healthy life so that my husband and I can be with our children and grandchildren during these special times, when our home will be filled with the nachas of little ones playing at our feet.

Yes, it is more work, but the gift of giving has beautiful rewards. Let’s go back to the ways of our parents, when our families meant the world to us. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I hope that my words change the views of many bubbies preparing for the Yomim Tovim.

Savoring Bubbyhood

 

Dear Rachel,

With all deference to grandmothers of inconsiderate families, I for one am sick and tired of all the complaining associated with Pesach. It seems that every column I read is filled with letters from poor abused parents bemoaning their fates and dreading the holidays because of the awful reality that, gasp, the children are coming to visit!

I completely sympathize with the hardship involved in preparing for Pesach. But we make it much harder on ourselves with all the insane cleaning and measures that are extreme according to even the strictest poskim. A perfunctory cleaning along with the removal of all chometz is all that is necessary. Spring cleaning by way of eliminating every cobweb from the attic and every last dust bunny from behind the boiler wasn’t in the plan.

As for the tremendous amount of cooking that some people insist on doing, lighten up. There are endless kosher for Pesach products available on the market today. And if minhagim prohibit you from using them, appreciate not having to chase a chicken around the backyard in order to prepare a decent meal. As for the endless work in setting and clearing the table, most of us would prefer a relaxed hostess serving a simple meal on paper plates than have a nervous wreck dishing out roast capon with stuffed truffles on Wedgewood.

When I reminisce about my childhood sedarim, I recall my grandfather’s words of Torah and my grandmother’s beaming face. Besides the unique aroma of borscht and the distinctive tickle in the nose from a spritz of seltzer, I can’t recall what was served on what type of dinnerware. I do remember the warmth and intense appreciation I felt at being part of such a special occasion.

Yom Tov is essentially about family and – yes, those noisy little creatures with dirty hands and sticky faces. Where if not at our own table are we to impart our unique minhagim? The entire seder is meant to encourage the questions of children. Is your idea of the perfect seder table a pristine white tablecloth set with sparkling crystal, gleaming silver, a perfectly appointed kaara, and a 52-year-old woman asking a 53-year-old man the ma nishtana?

Family is our link to the past, our hope for the future. Yom Tov is about cousins loving, fighting, sharing and learning to deal with each other and build priceless memories. Granted, Pesach is hard. But what in this life worth having isn’t? Attitudes need to be adjusted. Families should be enjoyed. For a few days out of a long year, disregard the dirty fingerprints, look past the runny noses, and get to know your grandchildren. If you want to attack a mitzvah with sacrificial zeal, try shmiras ha’lashon. The world would be a better place! May you never know a day without the pitter-patter of little feet and the distinctive whine of an overtired toddler.

All you kvetchy bobbies
- get over it!

 

Dear Readers,

Please forgive the lateness of this response. Your letters came in close to Pesach, and there was much left to be done. For, you see, sticky little fingers made the rounds all year round leaving behind a trail of cookie crumbs. While sneaky spiders in hidden corners may have feasted well, couldn’t chance leaving leftovers languishing behind the boiler, the couch, the refrigerator, in the attic, and in bedding – where sleepy little crumb-encrusted forms were set down for the night. Scrubbing chometz’dike fingerprints off window panes, vertical blinds, door handles, curtains, etc. hardly constitutes spring cleaning.

Forgive me, again, but what if not the seder table deserves to be bedecked bekavod’dik with a “pristine white tablecloth, sparkling crystal, gleaming silver, and a perfectly appointed kaara?”

Shall we tell our husbands, who eat only in-house created edibles on Pesach, that there’s no time nor stamina left to bake the cakes they rely on as nosh for the duration of the holiday? Maybe we should just serve plain chicken broth and skip the home-made lokshen, and conserve our energy for catering to our grown children and grandchildren who converge on their good old parents – not “to visit” but to move in, deeming themselves to be “on holiday.”

To the best of my recollection, the letter writer who prompted your ire did not at all express a desire to be alone with her husband for Yom Tov. She merely craved to be spared the incessant racket that is part and parcel of multiple families and numerous “cousins” coming together for an extended stay – hardly the stuff of “pitter-patter.” I remember when my own mother’s debilitating back and shoulder aches spurred her to finally insist that only one family “move in” per holiday. Our disappointment was momentary and self-serving. We graciously acquiesced – and learned how to conduct our own beautiful sedarim. Our nachas was to know that mom’s physical discomfort gradually subsided (may she continue to live pain-free and happily with our dad till 120).

Write me again in 20 to 30 years from now. Until then, reserve your judgment of those in whose shoes you do not walk. There is no set rule that applies to all situations, but consideration for parents applies at all times.

Thank you for writing to share your views with others. May you continue to be healthy devoted parents, and may your children grow up to be appreciative of your dedication.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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