Posts tagged " happiness "

Generational Joy

September 6th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 45 comments

Simcha is usually translated from Hebrew as happiness. I prefer to think of it as joy. I don’t know if an English scholar would agree, but in my mind, happiness is fleeting while joy, even when other events or the passage of time overtakes it, leaves a lasting impression. Eating ice cream makes me happy, but I can summon up the emotional atmosphere of eating ice cream with a good friend long after the treat has been consumed.

We have been blessed with a wonderfully busy summer. It began with the birth of a healthy baby grandson and ended with another similar gift. In between the two births, we celebrated the weddings of two of our children. While our basement flooding was not a highlight of the season, the tireless support of our son-in-law and grandsons in toting, carrying and sorting pounds of water-laden possessions certainly was.

A question mark hung over our annual week of Grandma Camp. Would I get it together in time to follow the tradition of it being a summer event or would we need to shoot for winter camp this year? Would the final baby of summer arrive on time and take priority or would he wait just a bit longer? He waited!

Eventually, it all came together. The five attendees looked much older and more mature than they appear in the photos of last year’s Grandma Camp.   I had a wonderful time spending the week with them. Since camp was at the end of the summer instead of its usual early July date, the fall holy days were just around the corner. I delighted in teaching the girls how to bake a traditional family recipe for Rosh HaShana.

I try to make mandlen (translated as soup nuts but bearing no relationship to items of that name in the supermarket) each year for the beginning of the new Jewish year. I inherited the recipe I use, and a bite transports me to my grandmother’s teensy Brooklyn kitchen where love was an ingredient in every morsel. When my mother-in-law shared her favorite recipes with me, the same recipe was in that treasure trove as well. Isn’t this photo where they are making mandlen wearing their personally designed aprons wonderful?

While one of my daughters, who as of yet has no children of her own, joked about child labor, seeing these little girls take their place in a chain of transmission of Torah, tradition, and, yes, food, brought great joy to me. May the coming year bring joy along with health, prosperity, peace, family and friendship to all of my treasured Musings readers.

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Years of Our Discontent

August 3rd, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 35 comments

It is funny what sticks in your mind, isn’t it? Over 25 years ago, I heard my father-in-law ask in a tone that managed to be both amused and acerbic, why people couldn’t simply serve roast chicken every Friday night. At the time, my sympathies went to the woman who had innocently asked him whether a certain item only available in a specialty Japanese store was kosher. While not a gourmet cook like she was, I do vary the dishes served at my Shabbat table; my family and I would be bored with the same exact meal week after week.

My mother-in-law, like my mother and grandmothers offered no such variety. For them, being able to afford and have access to kosher chicken was in itself the special Friday night treat. How could anyone want more than chicken soup, roast chicken, and a simple side dish? They lived in different times.

I enjoy experimenting with new Shabbat recipes and while certain holidays cry out for specific traditional dishes, it is unusual for us to have exactly the same meal two weeks in a row. Yet, something I recently read made me recall my father-in-law’s lament and relate to it with greater understanding.

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I did not grow up poor

March 10th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 2 comments

Have you noticed how fashionable it is among politicians to proclaim the poverty of their childhoods? I was brought up in a two room house on the wrong side of town. I grew up in a one room house outside of town. Well, my family lived in a tiny log cabin near the forest. So what! Me and my brothers and sisters all lived in a tent eating berries we picked in the forest. And so on… If you believe them, you’re more gullible than they are duplicitous.

Well, I enjoyed a more than comfortable middle class childhood, thank you very much. And that was a good thing not only for me as a child, but also for me as an adult. I know how wealth is created by strong marriages and strong values. (more…)

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