Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Blues

Before I start complaining, I want to stress that on this Thanksgiving Day I am VERY thankful for my beautiful daughter and the joy she has brought into my life. I am thankful for my general state of happiness and satisfaction, and for my underlying faith that all things work out in the end, the way G-d intended for us.

That being said,  I must say that when my parents told me their travel dates, I got so excited that for the first time in the 13 years since I have made aliyah, we would be able to celebrate a true Thanksgiving Day together.  I started planning invitations and menus, and tried to figure out where to get an authentic pumpkin pie.  I also took off the afternoon from work to be sure that I could spend extra time with my parents.

Well, my parents had planned on visiting Tel Aviv yesterday, and pushed that trip to today instead, so Raphaela and I spent the afternoon - just the two of us, as we normally do on a Thursday - doing pre-Shabbat errands and enjoying the unseasonably warm and sunny November weather. As far as even having dinner tonight with my parents? That will not take place because my Ultra-Orthodox relatives decided at the somewhat last minute to have a memorial dinner for my uncle who died of ALS two years ago.  And since the dead seem to take precedent over the living (though I wouldn't say that sentence out loud to anyone) Raphaela has been fed and bathed, and I am making a simple dinner of salmon for myself.

I will not have seen my parents at all today.

You might say, why don't you go with your parents to this family gathering in honor of your dead uncle, that way at least you spend time with your relatives on Thanksgiving?  First, this wake of sorts only begins at eight pm, and I don't have the physical strength to stay awake and travel to the event;  nor do I want to interfere with Raphaela's sleep schedule, as I don't want her to be a basket case for her Chanukah party at Gan tomorrow.  Second, and more personal, these relatives have lived in Israel at least for as long as I have, and they have never made me feel welcome in their homes, because I do not pass their religious mustard.  In fact, only one of these cousins of my father even called me after I gave birth to wish me a mazal tov, the rest pretend like my daughter and I don't exist.  I cannot get all dressed up like a Chareidi and smile fake smiles, and pretend that we enjoy each other's company.

I cherish the memories of the Thanksgiving weekends spent with the whole family at my grandmother's house, and I will not ruin those experiences with a poor and depressing substitute.

So here I am, on Thanksgiving, sad and alternatively angry.  Hey, wait a minute, most people go insane being around their family on major holiday weekends, so maybe I am actually celebrating Thanksgiving in the truest way...


koshergourmetmart said...

It is true that you do not want to mess with RR's schedule-kids do best with having a set schedule. And it is unfair for your parents to miss Thanksgiving w/you especially if you told them about your plans for spending Thanksgiving with them. However, I think you should not write off your religious relatives. First, if they have a huge family, their immediate family will take precedance over 1st or 2nd cousins. My mother has 3 first cousins who she was close to growing up. The 3 of them have 24 children (12, 6 and 6). From these 24, there must be at least 300+ descendants-grandchildren and great grandchildren [many of them have 7+ children and a few have 12] My mother's first cousins have a simcha nearly every day and grandchildren who need assistance (one of the 24 died young with several young children to raise). My mother does not take offense she does not see them as much as she used to b/c of their responsibilies. In addition, treating them like they treat you (non existent) will not change their feelings towards you. I am not as "religious" as my cousins but I do have a good relationship with my cousin Mimi [who you know]. As an example, my daughter had a diagnosis of cancer this past year, and my 2nd cousin's daughter who is ultra orthodox and who I never met before now was her counselor at camp simcha and has called us many times to see how she is doing and has made a real relationship with us. When I met her mother for the 1st time, she invited our whole family to spend Shabbat with them - something I would not have expected to happen due to their ultra-orthodoxness as well as their humungous family (300+ cousins). Now is the time to try to make a change with them. They after all do not seem to reject your parents. Perhaps, now you can find some common ground such as raising children in relating to them. Even if you have to fake it it would be good for RR to know she has family in Israel.

koshergourmetmart said...

Don't you mean religious muster? What hasgacha is religious mustard?