Monday, September 21, 2009

And who does Mama teach to mend and tend and fix ...

I believe in God.

I keep a kosher home.

When my children turned 13, each of them in turn became a bar or bat mitzvah -- literally, a son or daughter of the commandment -- and took their places as an "adult" in the Jewish community.

As an adult, I have always belonged to a synagogue and gone to services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Until now.

This year, I let my temple membership lapse and didn't even purchase tickets (yes, you need tickets) to the holiday services. I continually walked past the envelope of membership information without taking action.

As early as Friday morning (before Rosh Hashanah began at sundown), I still had no plan. Fortunately, my BFF rescued me from my malaise and offered my family a place at her synagogue with her family.

But as I sat in services on Saturday morning, flanked by the Roo-girl and Z-man, I realized one of the sources of my problem.

Tradition -- or, rather, the lack of.

For years, my parents hosted a night-before dinner on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. When that stopped, they hosted post-services lunch on Rosh and a break-the-fast on Yom.

This year, there was none. Some of that was due to my mother's breast cancer diagnosis not being as clean and pretty as we had hoped. She was clearly not up to hosting anything.

But even so, I realized I have nothing in its place. The torch has not passed to another family member, nor have I taken up the challenge myself.

So there was nothing. No dinner. No lunch. No family gathering. And I barely managed to have a place to worship with the two children of mine who still live under my roof.

My childhood and, frankly, adulthood are filled with memories of holiday dinners at first my grandparents and then my parents.

Right now, I despair at the memories -- or lack thereof -- I am making for my children ...

Crossposted at Mid-Century Modern Moms


The Duchess of Wessex said...

The good news is you have another whole year to plan Next year's celebrations at YOUR home. You will pick it up for your aging/unwell parents and carry on all the good times and memories you've been accustomed to sharing with them for your children and yourself!

And why wait a year? You have your Passover activities to plan right now!

I hear what you're saying though... You and I are blessed to still have our parents at this, (our own) “advanced age” – So we are stuck in our ways and a bit spoiled that our family traditions have carried on for so long as they have.

I know for myself, it always made me a bit lazy about taking over the holiday celebration duties from my mom and dad. I do it because I have to - Living 3,318 away from my mom and dad, I have little choice. I know my husband and boys appreciate it and can’t imagine why I wouldn’t be, “the mom” who prepares all the holiday meals and who decorates our home with every Season.

But I can't lie and say I don't resent the heck out of never having a place to go where the food is always cooked, (to perfection) and laid out in front of me without any effort or input. Oh, and where the dishes get done and the kitchen is magically cleaned up too.

I have every Faith that you will pick up the holiday celebration/remembrances baton and RUN with it! I imagine your family will delight in all the ways your efforts are the same to honor the traditions, and in lots of cases, even Better than they remember from when your mother and father hosted.

Much love,


nikki said...

I wish I had helpful words, but being a very lapsed Catholic, I don't have much to share. Hopefully next year you can find your way again. (hugs)

Siobhan said...

Emotionally-wise, it's hard for me to start my own traditions. I want to be at my Mum's place with her doing. Not so I don't have to, but because it doesn't seem right doing it without her. I know how you're feeling. Maybe you could start with a celebration that you don't have memories tied to...?

Kila said...

Being passed the torch, when you weren't quite ready to take it, or even know if you want it...I understand. And we each carry it differently. said...

Janet, do you think it would seem less overwhelming if you made the next holiday more of a hands-on thing for the entire family? Call everyone up and plan who will bring what and let all the extended family pitch in? I know growing up all the Christmases were held at my grandparents house, but my grandmother did very little. My mom and aunt "showed up early and stayed late", and cooked just about everything. Now Christmas celebrating is held at my mother's house, but you better believe I have to be there a couple of days early! It seems like so much more fun, too to have a lot of family there helping.
Just a thought! Hang in there, you'll figure out what's important to you and your family.

Suzanne said...

I can understand completely what you speak of, from a Christian perspective.

My parents? Both grew disillusioned with the Catholic church, for various reasons. Other than baptisms, my family didn't attend mass, except for Christmas and Easter.

My 'second mom and dad', as I call the M's, well, they were responsible for getting my younger sister and me involved in our church.

I lost my way, found another church I liked better (and my husband didn't hate), but once again, we're not attending any services anywhere.

As others have said, you have a whole year to plan for next year's. It's time to assign roles to each of the kids, because they are all adults in the eyes of their faith.

Traditions are what you make them. Start a new one, one where your mom and dad can come to YOUR home and enjoy the blessings of the younger generation.

Jaina said...

You will find your way, and your children will help you make traditions and keep them strong.

Pamela said...

I see you making lots of memories...
you've established your own traditions.

Tammy Howard said...

I worry about this as well. My mom handles everything. When she no longer can, I doubt anything will be done.

Maybe time to develop new traditions (rather than trying to replicate old ones?) I don't know. Just throwing it out there...

Karen said...

We've found that traditions, while fun, are just that. If the religion is based around a tradition it just doesn't mean much to us personally.

I'm sorry about your mom. Still praying. It's gotta be a bit more discouraging at times like this.

JennyMac said...

I love to host but when my Hub's family hosts things, some people get overwhelmed. Easy fix ? Everyone pitches in either by bringing food or helping set up.

Burgh Baby said...

I grew up with holiday traditions surrounding Christmas and, truly, they defined the holiday. It was Christmas Eve at my Aunt's that was the very definition of the holiday for me. When she passed away, the tradition was lost and nothing took its place. It took me years to reclaim Christmas and make it what I wanted it to be. (And you know just how far I took that. Heh.)

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