Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Time of Memory Making

Pessach in Israel feels very much like Christmas  or Thanksgiving did in the United States:  it is impossible to find parking at any store or mall, there is way too much preoccupation with food; and people need extra sessions with their therapists, because of the emotional trauma of the Seder and the week long vacation IE lots of family time.

This time of the year I find myself becoming nostalgic, thinking about my grandparents who not only led Seder for many years, but also hosted the whole family (25 people, one shower, two toilets) in their New England home.  The boy cousins slept in army beds in the basement, the adults got actual bedrooms, and the few girl grandchildren were scattered on various floors.  Along with the usual dysfunctional family dynamics, it allowed me to know my cousins well, well enough that we are still in contact and still friends.

So many small things bring back the memories of those relatives, some now passed on and most of us scattered around the globe.

Yesterday was the last day of English Camp, and Raphaela came home tired and sad, already missing her teacher and the other children, including her "boyfriend."  Raphaela started crying, and as I comforted her, I couldn't help but think about my grandmother, for whom my daughter is named.  My Bubby hated saying good-bye, and I have this image in my head of boarding a train some time in college; as the train pulled away I could see my grandmother waving and crying, as if we would never see each other again.

Later in the evening, I had a dentist appointment at the mall to repair a cracked tooth; no Matza for me this year, yay!  Since Raphaela was officially on  vacation, she came with me.  It took 20 minutes to find a parking spot, we stalked shoppers leaving the building and practically ran them over, staking our claim.  I never like to arrive late, so we rushed straight to the doctor's office, but on the way out, we had to walk through the mall and the bustle of the pre-Pessach customers.

I have never liked shopping, especially during the holiday season, and wanted to just get to the car and leave. My daughter the Fashionista was fascinated by every store window, and insisted several times that we go into the store and find me a new dress for Pessach.  We failed in our mission, but her enthusiasm was running at a high, and let me tell you, she has very good (read: expensive) taste.

"My mother would love to shop with Raphaela, " I thought. "Too bad we live on different continents."  Because I spent most of my childhood and high school years moaning and groaning while my mother made me window shop with her.

Today, after I finished working, Raphaela and I went shopping, again.  (Have I mentioned that I dislike shopping?)  Our first stop was the shoe store, toward the purpose of getting Raphaela new socks for Spring/Summer.  Well, Raphaela saw a pair of the coolest, most fashionable sandals in the store and had to have them.  And yes, they look great on her and she has excellent taste.

Then we went to find me a new outfit for the holiday, and Raphaela became my style consultant.  "No, Mommy, that dress makes your tush look big." "Mommy, that dress is so boring, you need something with color, something light and fun."  "How about this shirt, Mommy, it would look beautiful on you!"  Today I did find something to spruce up my wardrobe and my mood.

It hit me that I have a real person with me, someone I love because she is my girl, but also because she is genuinely fun to have around.

Our last stop was the supermarket, the final food run before Pessach starts on Friday. Once again we waited 20 minutes for parking, and another 15 minutes to nab an available shopping cart.  We went through our list, adding extras only slightly, and when we came home, Raphaela helped me unpack the groceries.

I do feel truly blessed.

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