The Brody Bunch – Chanukah, Lights, Memories and the Fire Department

Tis the season for the Festival of Lights, Chanukah, Hanukkah, the Miracle of Lights … 2018/5778 (Jewish Year) is down in the books.  Here are the Brody Bunch Chanukah Chai-Lights in no random order.  For those who celebrated, may the new wax you accumulated from your candles add to the good memories from years past.  For all, may there always be light.

  1. Pulling out Rubbermaid boxes filled with preschool made Chanukah art from when the Brody Bunch was little, signifies that Chanukah is upon us. Seeing their little projects displayed brings much happiness.
  2. Hearing Adam Sandler’s “Hanukkah Song” kicks off the festivities for 8 crazy nights.
  3. Four kids x eight nights = 32 gifts.  The Brody Bunch tells me that we don’t have to exchange gifts, just light candles, but they have much gratitude, expect nothing, appreciate everything and indulge me in a nightly sibling photo.  We give them things they need or little things we know they want.  Though, it was an epic fail when I let our 13 year old daughter order a book off Amazon on Black Friday featuring her favorite teeny bopper heartthrob like entertainer to discover that I paid for a book about Jeffrey Dahmer’s youth. Thankful for free return shipping.
  4. For the first time, the Brody Bunch created a candle lighting schedule regarding who strikes the match which lights the Shamash candle (the tallest candle in the menorah, the candle helper) and kept to the schedule allowing each sibling to use matches twice. Four siblings x two nights each =  8 nights.  I didn’t mediate once.  That is considered a miracle, too.
  5. Playing dreidel.  Dreidel is a Hanukkah game using something like a spinning top, is similar to gambling, and we use Poker chips instead of Hanukkah gelt (chocolate candy coins) as money. There were no high stake tournaments, but lingering problems such as if the dreidel falls off the table and lands on a good jackpot side, how is that counted? After all these years, we are still in need of clear rules or players become like the Maccabees (the victorious Jews who won the battle) back in a modern battle.
  6. I had so much fun buying boxes of frozen store made latkes, I ran into old friends and we had a great time. But homemade latkes taste better even though they are a lot of work and stink up the house from the oil.  We were gifted with a family friend frying latkes at our house.  And now will be eating the frozen latkes throughout the winter.
  7. We finally used all of my mother’s circa 1970s Manischewitz brand candles. It was a miracle that the jumbo roll of Chanukah wrap, purchased three years ago, the extra long tube that is really hard to store, finally depleted.  I marked my calendar with a reminder to go to the supermarket and restock clearance candles and Hanukkah wrapping paper for next year. Toilet paper and Chanukah supplies, you never stop using either.
  8. Amazon Prime IS Hanukkah Harry.  I will miss my daily visit with our mailman as the last delivery was today. Our mailman is funny like Newman, the Mailman, from Seinfeld.
  9. We festively go through the motions of the holidays for Tradition and to perpetuate our heritage with our children.  The kids waited each night for their Dad to come home from work, late, before lighting the menorahs.  It was a family ritual each night.
  10. My favorite night was night 6.  With more family, we had good laughs, lit lots of menorahs, ate too many homemade latkes, sang Christmas songs, told jokes, used my parent’s very old China serving platters, and the Brody Bunch was full of personality. My kids keep asking what gift I would like to receive and I tell them “just behave”.  They tell me it’s easier to buy a new purse, but on night 6 everyone behaved, that was my gift. Not all gifts are materialistic. I have a new memory to always treasure.
  11. On the 7th night of Chanukah, my daughter lit her Great Grandmother’s menorah. The menorah has been my daughter’s since she had the fine motor skills to place the candles in the holes.  And, this night was special because it would have been my Grandmother’s 98th birthday.  So, I saw the the passing down of traditions from generation to generation literally unfold both in our dining room and in my heart.
  12. On the 8th night, and final night, of Chanukah, I finally located our large dreidel collection and found all of our Jewish themed paper products, it’s like finding your Christmas decorations on December 26th.
  13. Irony ended with the Baltimore City Fire Department.  While celebrating the miracle of lights our circuit breaker kept tripping off.  The electrician didn’t fix the problem, but instead tripped our smoke detectors and left with the smoke detectors chirping.  So, without my family at home, I celebrated the 8th night of lights early when the Baltimore City Fire Department came over with the big truck and lights blaring to help this damsel in distress. What a way to close out the miracle of lights – with fire truck lights.
  14. This Chanukah, I received great memories and new smoke detectors.  Like the Israeli dreidel symbolizes, “A GREAT MIRACLE HAPPENED HERE, it was a great miracle that I survived 8 crazy nights.

The Brody Bunch and The Nutcracker

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I Once Threw Shade at The Nutcracker

It’s the holiday season.  With an abundance of traditional and festive options, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker is one of the most popular winter seasonal highlights for many.  And, I admit that I was not a fan of the beloved Nutcracker, until now.  My mom and my daughter Blanche have made an annual pilgrimage to see this beloved ballet throughout the years. I am invited each year and decline.

Rising to the Occasion Because Your Kid Asks You To

This year, my mom was unable to take Blanche on their traditional outing.  So, I made arrangements for Blanche to see the show, but Blanche wanted me to come, too.  I had no interest.  I saw it once as a child, and that was enough for me.

Though, when your kid asks you to go to the ballet, and her Grandmother can’t go, you rise to the occasion.  For two hours, I was mesmerized.  I loved everything in this holiday treasure.  We saw a stellar production at the Baltimore School for the Arts. From the costumes and makeup to the dancing and the facial expressions, we were given a beautiful gift for the holidays and beyond.  I tried to understand deeper meanings of The Nutcracker.  But deeper meanings pertaining to the story were unneeded.  The meanings in my own story is what unfolded.  It was beautiful, and draining, and a gift received from self reflection.  It was like believing in the magic of the Clara’s dream and the magic of the holidays.

The Magic of The Nutcracker Gave Me Gifts, Too

For the first time, I was engaged in the actual event.  I usually photograph events so I miss being in the moment as I am “focused” on my job. I never realized this.  But I enjoy it. And, I usually watch the expressions on my kids’ faces when we are sharing an experience, but I am never in the moment of the activity.  My happiness is gained by watching my kids experience the moment.  I don’t remember how I experienced things before they were born, but as they grow older, I am sure that I will need to relearn how to be in the moment for myself.  Perhaps, The Nutcracker gave me a gift, too.

Several days have passed since the ballet.  And, I don’t recall watching my daughter’s expressions during the performance. I was most engaged in the actual performance. She doesn’t understand that my experience differs from her experiences. She doesn’t know that I receive much joy out of watching her and her siblings experience happiness rather than enjoying the actual outing itself.  She feels that we went to the show together and shared that journey, which is also true. For her, it is that simple. The moment I treasure most from this outing is that my daughter so much wanted to be with me, and I experienced actually being in the moment.  We were both happy. We supported the arts. And perhaps the arts supported me in my personal growth.

I Understand the Best of the Holiday Season

I finally found the love that many have experienced through The Nutcracker thanks to my daughter, my mom, and the talented performers.  Perhaps this journey of being in the moment, for myself, and with my family, represents the best of the holiday season.  

The Brody Bunch – THIS is What’s It’s About

Dating Anniversary, Different Start Dates – Same Group of Friends

Today is the 18th year that my husband has been dating me.  I have been dating Mark an additional 8 months. It was a complicated social understanding which took a heavy handed bartender’s margarita that finally got us on one page. Back then, before the Brody Bunch phenomena, we had a very special circle of friends. With these friends, we volunteered, we traveled, we had regular happy hours, we had weekly Saturday brunches, for years.  We spent holidays together, we experienced happy times, sadness, work changes, first houses, and life. These friends knew Mark and me before we started dating.  

What is THIS All About?

Someone recently asked, me “What is THIS all about”?  “THIS” includes: kids’ sports leagues, applying for schools, touring camps, bills, high health care premiums, and the hamster wheel of life. “THIS” includes many first world problems. My reply to the philosophical or rhetorical question, just a few weeks ago was,“don’t ask that question, just keep moving forward!”  

A Celebration with Friends, Dewey Beach is in our Hearts

However, last night, the Brody Bunch and our old circle of friends gathered to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah. Throughout life we create groups of friends, such as school friends, work friends, camp friends, college friends, early career friends, etc. Mark and I were in a peer group of 20 year old civically and socially minded people. Mark developed a spin off group called, “The Walking, Running, Eating and Volunteering Group” and we did everything in the group’s title, weekly. A part of this group remained very close.  

One of our best annual vacations was a trip to Dewey Beach, Delaware.  We rented a mansion on the beachfront.  About 18 years ago, this place cost $4000 for four nights over the long Memorial Day weekend. 18 of us piled in.  It was one long party.  We called ourselves the “original Dewey group”.  A few people didn’t come back in future summers and new people joined the group. We did this trip several times. And, it always rained when we took this trip.  The trip eventually ended.  The Dewey crew split off into smaller groups.  And, life got in the way.

Identifying with A Scene in the Movie, City Slickers

Last night, most of the group, along with my children, reconvened to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah.   We had more sunshine last night than we ever had on our beach trip.

“What’s all of THIS about”?  There’s a conversation in Billy Crystal’s movie City Slickers about middle aged friends on a comedic soul searching journey on a dude ranch that refers to this experience.   

Curly,  played by Jack Palance, a seasoned cowboy, and asks Mitch played by Billy Crystal: “Do you know what the secret of life is? THIS, [and holds up one finger].” Mitch: “Your finger?” Curly: “One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.” Mitch: “But, what is that ‘one thing?’” Curly: “That’s what YOU have to find out.”

So, here we were on the dance floor, in between classic hits from the 80s and songs of today celebrating a friend’s child who became a man in the eyes of our collective faith. Our kids were dancing near us, checking in during dinner and dancing. We laughed about old times.  We gushed over our growing kids. We checked in about each other’s’ parents. I unloaded issues I would never post on Facebook. There was so much love and happiness.  I missed our friends so much.  We all had a good time.  In our younger days, we volunteered in our community.  We got married.  We had kids.  We experienced each other’s’ sadness. We became consumed in our kids’ worlds.  And then we made new life friends through Little League, and the PTA.  Everyone is part of the journey.  But what is THIS all about?

What is all of the Stuff About?

I am in the midst of cleaning out a loved one’s home during a housing transition.  My own home is also in need of a purge. We spent years buying and gathering more stuff and now it is everywhere and we are attached to it, but don’t need most of it. Simplicity seems like a better alternative Again, it’s a first world problem.  “What’s THIS all about”?

To Life! To Us!  To our Friends!

Last night, while I was with many dear old friends, who I have not seen on a regular basis for more than 10 years, and those I have seen quickly in passing at the supermarket or such, quality time has been missed. This is the group, the “original Dewey crew” that knew my husband and I before we were dating.  And, last night, they didn’t realize that we would be celebrating 18 years, which is Chai (Life), in Judaism, of dating.  These were the friends who helped us get where we are today, and they didn’t even know that today is a significant day for us and that they were part of it.

Taking a Reunion Photo, We Were Meant to take a Photo of ALL of US

We all danced together, and told some one liners from the past.  I requested that the photographer take a group picture of the original Dewey crew still hanging on late into the night. I have always done our photos, but I wanted to be in this group photo, too.  We were lining up. And, then significant others and spouses joined in the group photo, as they should.  And, then our kids jumped into the photo, as they should. We were watching our legacy unfold last night THIS is what it’s all about.

Last Dance, THIS is What it is All About – Friends, Memories & The Future

We were called together to celebrate a happy time. The whole night was a reflection of our past as we celebrated a young man’s future… perhaps “THIS is what it’s all about”. I asked the disc jockey if he ever heard of Donna Summers’ song, “Last Dance”? The D.J.’s announced last song was one that I never heard of.  Our Dewey group saw Donna Summers in concert. The D.J. obliged my request and played a final “Last Dance” and there we were, most of the original Dewey group, significant others and kids, singing and dancing the Last Dance. One friend said to me, “hey, I think you have a new blog from tonight.”  And, my old friend Chippy, was right.  I have had a writing block for a few weeks. Not only do I have a blog, I have a very warm spot in my heart for old times. Life is a blessing and hard.  But to see the past, and reflect on the future and know that we are happy, healthy and wealthy in memories and love, “THIS” is what it’s all about.

The Brody Bunch – The Season Changes and So Do We

Fall Season With Younger Kids

When the Brody Bunch was younger, Fall signified pumpkin patches, jumping in leaves and slow walks picking up acorns. Traditions are now memories that I try to keep going each Autumn, albeit watered down. As Autumn seems to arrive faster and faster each year, I try to schedule all of my favorite Fall pastimes, which now all happens the Saturday or Sunday just before Halloween.  As the leaves change, my heart yearns for pumpkin patches, acorn finds, but not so much raking.

Fall Season With Older Kids, Life is Moving Fast

The weather is getting chilly.  The Brody Bunch is super busy.  Weekends are not our own. We are on this incredible hamster wheel: homework projects, multiple sport tournaments, baseline goals of having clean underwear for the week, grocery shopping, paying bills and aging grandparents.  The aging grandparents part is new because the “sandwich generation” is kicking into full speed for me.  There have been highs and lows, but mostly highs. I love the time I am spending with my Mom and the harder and life lessons conversations with my Dad.  The kids spend even more time with grandparents visiting and being shuttled to extra curricular activities.  We all need more help and everyone is pitching in.  And, everything seems to be pumpkin spiced.  I never liked pumpkin spiced anything, I know that is considered blasphemy to some.

I loved the times at the pumpkin patches and being in awe by the changing colors seen in nature.  As the kids get older, I am getting older, too.  The seasons seem to change more rapidly and the memories seem so long ago. We are at the point where the Brody Bunch can use knives to carve their own pumpkins and a landscaping company blows the leaves. When the Brody Bunch was little, I thought those were really hard days. Imagine being in pumpkin patch with 2, 3, 4 and 5 year olds and being hopeful that we could round up all of the kids and their pumpkins before the last tractor hay ride headed back to the parking lot, also known as civilization.  

“Puff the Magic Dragon” Syndrome

The changing of the seasons and how we mark time reminds me of Mary, Peter and Paul’s classic song, “Puff the Magic Dragon”. This song is about a little boy, Jackie Paper, who had a great imagination and believed in the pretend Magic Dragon named Puff. One day, Jackie made way for other things, and Jackie moved beyond Puff. This lyric sums it up:
“A dragon lives forever but not so little boys/Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys/One grey night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more/And Puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar!”

Believing in the Magic of Fall, Make it Happen, Again

The memorable magic of Autumn has shifted because we have made way for other things. The Brody Bunch is Jackie Paper. And, I still want the Brody Bunch to hold onto the magical moments before growing up.  I am hopeful that as the seasons change, that the Brody Bunch still finds time as a whole Bunch to explore a pumpkin patch, look for changing colored leaves and collect acorns throughout the season.  We may even stop on the way home for a pumpkin spiced latte and sing “Puff the Magic Dragon”.  

Nature, love, memories, tradition, aging, and pumpkin spice and everything nice.

The Brody Bunch – My Mother’s Makeup Table

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Seeing my mother, myself and my daughter in the same mirror and triggered memories 

 

Scents Brought Memories Back From My Childhood

I sat at my Mother’s makeup table.  I was alone in her room.  I flicked on the light switch and the circa 1960s hard white light round, bulbs were illuminated. Well, most of the bulbs were bright, some of the bulbs need to be replaced. Suddenly, I was engulfed in familiar smells from my childhood.  Scent is a big trigger for memories. I sobbed. The smells of my Mom’s lipsticks and eye and lip pencils were all bringing back vivid memories from when I was little.  I remember my Mom sitting at her makeup table every morning and doing things to her face that Vogue models do before a photoshoot. Back then, my mom was younger than half of my current age today.  I didn’t see us get older.

Like a Child, but as an Adult, I Went Through My Mom’s Things

Like I did when I was as a little girl, I opened the makeup table’s main drawer.  I marveled at the treasures inside. There were organized containers overflowing with products.  The best of the best name brands were tucked in this drawer: Yves Saint Laurent, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, and some other moderately priced names. I remember being with her at high end cosmetic counters and department stores buying these products when I was younger.  And, sometimes, we would go out to lunch after a she bought her makeup and nailpolishes.  I even remember one place she shopped, there was a line of pay telephones each enclosed with a glass door for privacy and a seat for comfort. Sometimes, when I was finishing lunch, she would make a business call from one of the telephone booths.  When I was older, maybe 17 or 18, I occasionally shopped at the same makeup counters. The makeup artists knew me because I was there as a kid with my mom, but it was too expensive of a luxury for me during high school and college.

True Colors

Truth be told, while I was in her makeup table last night, I did put on a lipstick, just like when I was younger.  I was surprised to see a gold tone shade, which is in the family of color tones that I wear. By opening this drawer, memories emerged and I time traveled back by four decades. So long ago, my mom wore bright reds and fuchsia pinks.  But, there was a modern color from today.  A color quickly gave me a reflection of time.  I measured time with a color.

Empathy and Hugs

I didn’t realize that I was crying.  My daughter, Rachel, 11, came into the room.  Rachel has been known to open products, smell them, and not return items as found.  But not last night. Unlike me, Rachel did not partake in opening items.  Instead, Rachel stood above me while I sat at the makeup table and she just hugged me. And, she hugged me for a long time. Just the night before, I hugged my own mom, and I hugged her for a long time.  Rachel championed empathy.  My mom is an empathetic person.

The Bright Light Went Dark

In my moment of hysteria, because I was unexpectedly flooded with memories, Rachel brought over pictures of me with my Mom from when we were much younger, way before the Brody Bunch phenomena. Rachel’s intentions were good. The pictures from old family occasions combined with the scents from the makeup took me way down memory lane.  I could even remember the master bedroom where this table also stood in my childhood home.  For a short moment to me, and a long moment for Rachel, I was a mess.  Rachel’s comfort helped calm me down, and then, one of the 1960 hard white light round bulbs popped and went dark.  I could no longer see my perfectly painted lips painted with my Mom’s lipstick.

Love, Memories and 3 Generations of My Family Sat at this Makeup Table

From this experience,  I have a new love for this piece of furniture as there a connection from my mom to me and from me to my daughter. Now three generations of women in my family have seen their faces through the same mirror on this makeup table, both sad and happy.  And, we are all beautiful.

The Brody Bunch – The Apple Did Not Fall Far from the Tree

A light blog inspired by my Dad

I am so excited to write this blog, and dedicate it to my dad, Freddie. I really should wait until Father’s Day to publish this, but I can’t. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Freddie is a gourmet cook. Part of his regiment is that he shops and doubles or triples everything so that we have leftovers for next day lunches and a few dinners, it makes him happy. We have a large family, so this is a big financial undertaking.  And, Freddie honors special requests for everyone – steaks, fish, Caesar salads, whatever we want.  We try helping in the kitchen afterwards by putting a few things away.  But after loud and late dinners often on school nights, Freddie is just happy for us to pack up and go. Freddie never criticizes us for anything, except if we use the wrong size storage bags, seriously.  Freddie’s gadget filled kitchen has dedicated shelving and storage areas specifically for his variety of bags.  And, the bags are purchased in bulk.  Oh, Freddie likes to eat out daily.  So, he has a lifetime supply of storage bags in various sizes. So, if a cleanup helper uses a gallon sized bag to only put in a few leftover crudités, it will be stated that a sandwich size bag was more appropriate, “but no problem”.  We never ask where a specific size bag is stored, it somehow cues my dad that he should buy additional replacement bags within the next day or so.

The Perforated Box Filled with Storage Bags was Opened Incorrectly, & it made me think of my Dad

In my kitchen, we  have one drawer for storage bags.  We don’t use them too often. Though, I thought of my dad and was floored when I noticed that a Brody Bunch kid opened the box in a unique way, FROM THE SIDE rather than pushing along the perforated indentations.  I have never opened storage bag boxes from the side, there’s a perforated cut out in the center, but the bags still come out, so I let it go, I saved my snarky complaint for a higher level moment. Last Father’s Day I gave Freddie a box of snack sized storage bags and he was pretty happy with the gift, though I don’t think he has had need for this size, yet.

Plasticware – Wash and Reuse or Recycle?

We just wrapped up two nights of family dinners at my house and I pulled out some plasticware and paper plates.  It was brought to my attention that either you wash and reuse plasticware, or you recycle it.  I have always been in the wash and reuse group. And, I noticed that when my daughter Rachel serves dessert, that she is generous with the paper plates.  I walk around and pull off the extra bottom plates while someone is eating and put the clean plates back into circulation. Like the storage bags, I am pretty particular with the paper and cutlery, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Gift Bags!

In addition to this weekend’s family dinners, our daughter Blanche celebrated her birthday. After Blanche opened her birthday presents.  Without thought, like an old habit, she handed me all of gift bags, “Here you go!  I have to remember not to give presents in these bags back to the people who gave me gifts in these bags.”  We regift, reuse gift bags.

The Apples Don’t Fall Far from the Tree

And there you have it, from plastic storage bags to paper plates and cutlery to gift bags, there’s lots of loves and laughs as the apples don’t fall far from the tree.  

 

The Brody Bunch – A(nother) Teenager. Love & Lessons

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Blanche made this in Kindergarten.
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I bought this for Blanche’s 13th birthday.

A Wild and Free Spirit

Blanche, my first daughter, is going to be a teenager within days. She is wild and free. She has been practicing the part for a long time. The tween years are slowly killing me, and it’s not her fault. There are four siblings each one year apart and the whole Bunch is in the puberty years. Brody Bunch birthdays are in progress and by Thanksgiving, the Bunch will be 11, 12, 13 and 14 years old. This is not for the weak. I have a sense of humor, selective hearing, and a short term memory.

Blanche’s birthday falls during Jewish day of Atonement, ironic. Yet, I look at this beautiful child, beautiful on the outside, and more beautiful on the inside, I am distracted by her gorgeous hair which she defied me with and dyed it blue using Kool Aid. Thankfully, she already had her Bat Mitzvah last month and our family photos do not show evidence of her rebellion. I should send her a thank you note. Nonetheless, I am learning a lot through Blanche.

Life Lessons I Have Learned from My Daughter

So far, I have learned some important life lessons, in random order, by being Blanche’s Mom:

  1. Find Your Group of Weirdos, These are Your People. Blanche took this mantra and lives by it. She is right, she surrounds herself with creative, artsy, thoughtful people. IF I was her age, I would want to be one of her weirdos.
  2. Mix Up Your Art Supplies. I was floored when Blanche, at a young age, mixed up all of the separate beads into one bucket. Markers, pens, paint brushes, colored pencils, dice, who cares, let the shoe boxes overflow. Something great will be created. Especially with hot glue.
  3. Write, photograph, sing. Spend your time being creative, it is an outlet worth spending a lot of time. And, it is a gift to experience the journey and the outcomes.
  4. Say bad words if it enhances your story, but not when you are angry.
  5. Stand up for those who need your voice. Be at rallies, write letters, go to marches.
  6. Feed the hungry (she learned this genetically as her parents met doing this exact effort).
  7. Be engaged in the City: there is so much to see, learn and do!
  8. Love being in the ensemble. Not everyone can be the lead character, and the lead always needs an ensemble.
  9. You look good. Don’t worry what others think. It’s not too short, not too tight, etc. as long as your ass is covered and your boobs don’t show.
  10. Gratitude is easy. Don’t ask for things and be appreciative when you receive things.
  11. Even with an out of tune piano and broken guitar strings, you can still teach yourself, for hours, how to play instruments.
  12. It’s okay to wear your old Converse kicks with a dress, but giving in and wearing your gold sweater that matches your new dress, makes your Mom happy.
  13. Inviting your Mom to hang out with your friends especially at school dances and parties is awesome, as long as I know when it’s time to leave.

Regarding the photos above: Blanche at 5 made me one of the hearts.  And, I am giving her the companion heart when she turns 13.

Blanche made me the “I Love You” heart when she was in Kindergarten. I remember her hammering the nails when I volunteered in her classroom. This heart hangs in our foyer. Last night, about 7 years after receiving the heart from Blanche, I found this little heart, “You Are Loved” and knew right away that this was meant for me to give to Blanche on her birthday. These are companion pieces of art – just like Blanche and me. There is a lot of love that is woven in many directions.

The Brody Bunch – A New Year, Sweet and Chaotic and Full of Traditions

The Prayer Book

It is 5778, the Jewish New Year.  I read several times On Rosh Hashanah that it is written and on Yom Kippur it is sealed… how the year will be for us individually. We want to be sealed in the Book of Life.   It’s a time for reflection, prayer and giving to those in need.  Part of my nontraditional traditions for the Jewish New Year and every other holiday and event include: grocery shopping at several locations, realizing last minute that we don’t have appropriate synagogue clothing and shoes for all of the Brody Bunch, arguing about cleaning, and serving the same brisket dinner each and every year – even the kids at their young ages recognize that if there’s a holiday, there’s a brisket.  I had hoped that this year I would be more organized, but I was not.  Life got in the way.  My level of self created procrastination and things out of my control escalated my level of chaos, and I came out on top like a champ, I usually do. I like the chaos, I thrive on it, but it’s not for everyone, and it takes a toll on those around me, they are still neophytes.

First Night of the Holiday, Reminiscing of Past Gatherings and Siri Maps

We started the holiday Wednesday evening with an outdoor service and picnic dinner.  My family has been to this outdoor service each year since its inception about 12 years ago.  Usually, Mark (my husband for those of you new to the Brody Bunch Blog), the kids and my parents attend.  We are surrounded by a few thousand of our friends and their families. It is a very meaningful event, especially for our family.  We reminisce about family jokes such as the year my Dad (Freddie) brought an incredible deli spread with everything one could want (think Carnegie or Katz’s Deli in New York), and Mark complained about the mustard.  Freddie said, “Mark, we have about 6 mustards, mayo, horseradish, find something or pass.”  Mark said, “Well, I was hoping that we could have mustard that didn’t expire in back 1996.” That’s fair.  The mustard was about 4 years older than my youngest child who was about 8 years old at the time.  Then there was the time that Freddie grilled a London broil and we had a major gourmet meal.  And, my mom forgot to pack the cutlery.  Freddie didn’t slice the slab of meat and we had no utensils.  So, my Dad and went from family to family, wished them a happy and healthy New Year, and gathered one knife here and two more forks there.  This year, I was belted over laughing when this happened: “Rube (that’s what my dad calls me), I am fine.  I was lost but I am set.”  WTF, I am thinking in my head, we have been here for 12 years in addition to several concerts.  Freddie continued, “Well, Siri told me to go this way.  And, I did.  And, she said to look for parking and walk.  So I did. I parked. And I walked.  And then I realized I still had a long way to go.  So, I got back in the car and drove the rest of the way here.”  This story was told as Freddie is walking into the park grounds with three folding chairs and a large mescalin greens salad, which, he announced needed to be tossed.  Again, WTF?  I brought the main dinner, drinks, four folding chairs, a blanket, a soccer ball and the Brody Bunch was on my last nerves … toss the salad?  

Same Prayer with My Parents at Different Times – Tears

As services were underway, I sat on my folding chair in between my Dad and Mark. We sang a prayer called Avinu Malkeinu (Hebrew: אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ‎‎; “Our Father, Our King”) a Jewish prayer recited during Jewish services on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as well on the Ten Days of Repentance from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur.  Freddie, an established musician, and somewhat of a local celebrity, and I were singing the prayer in unison as part of the participating congregation.  I was holding back tears because I have memories of this annual service with my Mom and she always cries during this prayer.   This time, I held back tears because my Mom was not with us due to health issues.  And, I could see the Brody Bunch in the corner of my eyes – some participating and some giggling.

Making A Memory with My Youngest Son, Depending on Rocky to Keep Me on Schedule –  and I Knew How Many Hours Remained as We Moved Through Different Stages of our Holiday Plans

After services, it was time for bed.  But, I loved spending time with my youngest, Max, 10, still in the kitchen as he cut carrots for the brisket. Yup, we were still prepping a brisket at this point for dinner which was in 19 hours. I set my alarm clock to 1AM, which rings to the “Rocky” theme, so that I could pull the brisket out of the oven for Thursday Night’s Rosh Hashanah dinner.  After slicing the brisket until 1:45AM, I discovered that I forgot to order high holiday tickets for the service seating, which was 7 hours later.  Sigh, I had so much time to do that.  

Showtime – Getting Dressed Like It is a Fire Drill, A New Makeup User Wearing Sneakers and A Photo Shoot

I went back to bed and before I knew it, it was time to get up and ready for services.  It was at this point that I realized that we never put away dress clothes from Blanche’s Bat Mitzvah in August which would double up as this year’s high holiday outfits. Giving myself a break, her Bat Mitzvah was four weeks ago, but it seemed like a lifetime ago.  Anyway, we were smelling items, shaking out wrinkles, and hoping that we could share items from my magic closet.  It was a struggle, but this is also part of the tradition, and somewhat parallel to getting dressed during a fire drill.  Unprepared with what 6 people, four of whom are still growing, have to wear that is appropriate, comfortable and not a battle is the worst part of the day, and this is a happy day.  We had one defiant child absolutely refuse to get dressed for synagogue. I had to ignore my almost 13 year old who decided that today, of all days, would be a great day to start wearing makeup.  So, she was wearing the darkest lipstick and Adidas kicks with her high holiday dress.  Another part of the chaos is that I do a photo shoot before we leave for services.  There is bickering, but I have a photographic treasure of the annual holidays and traditions, and this is my expectation.

Traffic, Community and The Meaning of the Holiday Clicked For Me

High Holiday traffic in Baltimore trumps Thanksgiving traffic on the New Jersey turnpike, somewhat, use your imagination.  When we finally arrived at services, we saw lots of community friends and greeted each other for a happy and healthy New Year.  I recognized someone handling seating questions and apologized for my lack of planning. We were fortunate to secure three seats in a standing only Sanctuary, it felt like we needed a scalper for more seat options, but then again, I was seated when we weren’t getting up and sitting down repeatedly throughout the service.  I was grateful.   My daughters, wandered off and had their own “services” with lots of other kids in the hallways.  For the first time, the text that we read each year, FINALLY clicked for me. I sat in the service and reflected upon Teshuvah (repentance), Tefilla (prayer) and Tzedakah (righteousness or justice – giving to those in need) and annoyed that I could not locate the Brody Sisters, and was in self conflict because I was proud that they were together, despite not being where I wanted them to be in services with me.

Dr. Brown’s Diet Black Cherry Soda and Matzo

After our long morning of deprived sleep, getting dressed up, etc, I needed to get out alone. So, I made an emergency Dr. Brown’s diet black cherry replenish run for the Rosh Hashanah dinner. When I saw Passover matzo on sale, I helped the grocery store manager with placement and sales recommendations that Passover matzo, especially on sale, is irrelevant to the Jewish New Year. Look at me, I started the new year doing a Mitzvah, or being a maven, however you want to look at my effort.  

Napping and the Hermit Crab (see a previous blog) Disturbed my Rest & As Always I Think We Need More Food

Now, I needed a nap.  I was out like a light, and Rachel’s new hermit crab, SHELdon Brody started making noises in his Hermit Crab Hotel.  His scratching woke me up.  So, with about an hour left before this dinner, I called Mark with a menu report:  “We have matzo ball soup, potatoes, carrots, brisket, Caesar salad, challah, acorn squashes, fresh fruit and a large assortment of hors d’Oeuvres from Susan (my former step mother whom I love dearly) and I think I should make a few more vegetables.”  The homemade applesauce that Rachel, 11, made, had a hint of garlic to it because apparently I didn’t get all of the garlic out of the food processor from the brisket rub. Oh my goodness.  

The Second Night of Rosh Hashanah Falls on Shabbat (another Dinner) and the Chaos is Coming With Me!

We have enough leftovers that I don’t have to cook for the second night of Rosh Hashanah dinner, which also falls on Shabbat.  May we find love, laughter, good health, happiness and light on the first Shabbat of the New Year.

This year, I had a lot of personal reflections and recognized that aging parents changes the meaning of the holidays and the way the old chaos worked.  I also know that with a lot of love, the new chaos, some self created, and some life changes, works well, because I have a strong support system when it’s time to rise to the occasion.  At the first night of Rosh Hashanah dinner, Mark, my parents, Susan and I did lots of planning while the kids called their grandparents in Pittsburgh and Aunts and Uncles have been called over the past few days, family is what this is all about.  

Intellectually, I recognize that I shouldn’t be rushing and unorganized during holidays but I do enjoy the mishigas (the craziness) and I already brought that into the New Year, with the help of the Brody Bunch.  From my family to your family, may it be a sweet New Year for all!

The Brody Bunch – The Wallet

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“The Difference Between Man and Animal is the Ability to Accessorize” said someone

No one has better accessories than my mom. Bangles, bracelets, sunglasses, scarves, hats, purses and wallets. OMG I just realized that I accessorize like her.  Her acquired collection is comprised of finds from the old Baltimore Field’s counter, Bloomingdale’s, Chinatown (when it was really good) and Blanche’s Fashions (my beloved Grandmother’s boutique).

Four Generations of My Family Likes Wallets

Yesterday, I mentioned that Rachel, 11, wants a very specific wallet, she actually wants the one that I have.  Rachel is like me and pretty specific about her trinkets and treasures.  I would be willing to give Rachel my wallet if I found something that I love to replace it. My mother said that she might have something.  She brought me into a closet filled with the most organized boxes and boxes filled with accessories which would be mine for the taking. We found the exact wallet and color that Rachel wanted. And, I found sunglasses and other trinkets for myself.  One little dainty gold wallet lined with a hot pink fabric stood out. I would never use it, but it was the one item that really stopped me in my treasure grabbing. I think I remembered the wallet from when I was very young. I know that I had seen this before. I opened it, and it was empty.  I smelled it. It smelled like something I remembered and I teared up. I could smell my grandmother’s perfume.

My Mom Gave Her Granddaughter a Wallet, and I received a strong memory of my Grandmother

After generously letting me have anything I deemed as a new treasure, my mother gently said, “well let’s put that wallet away. I’m not really ready to part with it even though I don’t use it. It was from Grandma Blanche.” My mother held onto something from my Grandmother from many, many years ago. I started to put it back in the box, and my mom told me that I should just take it home with my other things. I cried.  I’ve cried before because I’ve had an empty wallet. But this time, I cried because the empty wallet from my Grandmother to my Mother to Me is just the fullest wallet I have ever had.

Brody Bunch – From Generation to Generation

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Customs

It is customary in the Jewish faith to name your child after the deceased. Our first daughter Blanche, is named in blessed memory after my maternal Grandma Blanche. As the younger Blanche grows, we recognize that she shares similar connections with the deceased Blanche in their candid humor, a sweet tooth for cheap candy and a love of music. Grandma Blanche’s namesake helps keep my memories alive, from generation to generation..

Passing it Down – Tradition!

In celebration of Blanche’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah, my aunt and uncle gave Blanche a little box. When Blanche opened it, she saw something shiny. I saw it too. And, tears filled my eyes. I recognized the shiny bauble as my beloved Grandma Blanche’s initial B charm that she always wore around her neck. Over the years, I forgot about this necklace. But seeing the charm in the gift box reminded me of when I was a young girl, my Blanche’s age, and Grandma Blanche always wore the B hanging out of her shirt neckline.  She draped the necklace over her cowl neck sweaters, she wore it with her bathing suit, she kept it on when adding costume jewelry to her accessories.  Though, I don’t know the history behind the necklace itself, it brings back memories from my youth of time spent with her.  And, despite such an unusual name, it is easy to lovingly recall why my daughter is named after my grandmother because it was her love, caring, generosity and time from my Grandma that helped shaped me today which helps shape my role as Blanche’s mom..

While we were standing around the bar waiting for our dinner table, I believe that Grandma Blanche was smiling down on all of us. Four of her great grandchildren, were inspecting this shiny treasure. One of the kids told me that I can wear Blanche’s B necklace too because B is also for Brody, though Grandma Blanche was not a Brody.

My aunt and uncle have their own granddaughters. For them to give my daughter the necklace means so much to me. I will wear my Grandma’s rubies to the Bat Mitzvah service and I am hopeful that Blanche will wear the necklace. The gems are materialistic but when we talk about  L’dor va’dor, which literally means from generation to generation, the trinkets bring strong memories which link one generation to the next. Unfortunately, Grandma Blanche never met any of her 12 great grandchildren, but the kids feel like they know her from the stories, jokes and memories we share.  Naming someone after the deceased, retelling stories, wearing inherited jewelry, etc helps keeps the soul alive from generation to generation, L’dor va’dor. Tradition!  … cue the music from Fiddler on the Roof.