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.
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.
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.
Someone opened the side of a box with a perforated center.
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.
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.
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!