Monday, September 10, 2018
The kids have two days off from school. You don't think about the why as much as the when. The time off is convenient. It makes for a tidy four-day weekend. You fill it up neatly.
Then you remember why the kids have time off. It's for Rosh Hashanah. You email a couple of Jewish friends. You wish these folks a happy new year.
You were raised Catholic. You're not religious. Your husband is Jewish but not particularly observant.
The customary new year for people like you is on January first. You're not crazy about New Year's Eve, and New Years Day is no better. It's random. Too much noise. Too many expectations. Like most holidays, they make you feel small and insignificant.
You're in the midst of the long weekend. You're removed from your usual life. You and hotels don't always get along but this one is brand new and spanking clean with a cushy bed and warm lighting.
The days leading up to this hotel stay were a shit show. Your feelings got trampled on by somebody. Without intent, you hurt their feelings, too.
You've been wronged - no misunderstood - but being in a different place, away from your comfortable home you see the humanity of the person who hurt you. Their words cut, but they are essentially good.
You feel like crap, but you're a good person too.
As you send out one more happy new year email to one more person identifying as more Jewish than your husband, you seize on something about yourself. When a door opens for you, you walk through it. Not everybody knows how to do that.
By accident or by design somebody else's new year just fell in your lap.
You don't know how to celebrate the Jewish new year. Like most of what you do, you'll adapt to it and adapt it to you.
Just thinking about the previously ignored new year gives you good ideas about the problems you created and the ones brought about by others. Not everything is your fault.
You need this fresh start, cool and crisp, nobody foisting and nobody expecting. It's a construct. But like many traditions, it's useful.
You remember something about apples and honey. Your teenager requested an apple. Maybe she's feeling it too.
You announce your plans to observe Rosh Hashanah. Your daughter is happy to make matzo balls. You'll make vegetable soup because she's a vegetarian. Your husband is befuddled and a bit put out by your request to make challah bread but agrees to do it. After the challah bread is baked, fragrant and delectable, he denies ever being taken aback.
Because you customize, because you have maverick features, because you do whatever the hell you please, you decide to borrow the day of atonement from the Jews and jump the gun by observing it a week early. You're going all out.
You craft a heartfelt email to the person who stirred the pot with you. It’s better to be kind than right. You can’t control how the communication will be received but you feel a lift anyway.
Some people find truth at temple. Others at church. Yours found you at the Best Western. That's who you are. And you're starting to like that person again.
From the archives:
The sun it did rise again