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Posts tagged ‘Family’

Happiness is My Choice, 12

Expanded, ballooned, swelled—that’s how my heart behaved when I heard the announcement. Increased, surged, rose—that’s how my joy reacted upon learning the news.

One of my oldest friend’s oldest daughter just got married! I held this child when she was four hours old and now she and her beloved stood under the chuppah/marriage canopy as her parents did before her. I danced and hugged. My heart was full.

Other friends just became grandparents! The first grandchild, a girl, was born to their firstborn whose wedding I was privileged to attend last year. I delighted in the family’s joy at the wedding and blessed the new couple for a long, happy married life. Their well-being became my heart’s desire, their future as precious as that of my own children. Now the joy continues.

So why am I so happy some might wonder. Others might be jealous, blasé, or worse, bitter. I am grateful to have a heart that sings when others encounter happy tidings. Why not be happy for my friends? Their fortune, their gains, the fruition of their dreams does not detract from anything that is due to me. I am not losing anything or threatened.

Quite the contrary. The Creator wants us to be happy so He gives us opportunities to be happy. We need to recognize these opportunities and grab them with gusto! When we are happy with our own lot, the world looks brighter and everyone else’s good fortune rains upon us as well.

Ben Zoma says:
Who is rich?
The one who is appreciates what he has…
(Talmud—Avot 4:1)

Don’t I deserve happiness? Of course I do! That is the way Man is meant to live. Hashem gives me all I need; my needs will always be met. I know that everything coming to me will be provided… but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. My wants are not always in concordance with my needs. I need shelter, clothing, nourishment, health. I have all that. Maybe I also want that vacation trip, a newer car,  relief from bills, and the ability to eat anything I want when I want without consequences. (The former three are within the realm of the possible and the latter is a pipe dream for sure!)

So how do I stand it—no, bask in it—when others around me “get” something and I don’t? Reframe the situation.

Others receive no gifts that are being withheld from me. Others get what they deserve. For whatever reason, I am not destined at this moment to receive that same gift. That doesn’t mean I will never have the new car or the means to go on vacation. I understand that if I do what I need to do in this world to be a kind, moral, and righteous person, I will be showered from Above with all that is coming to me.

Sharing joy in the blessings my friends experience enlivens me and wraps me in the surety that there is a Presence for Good in the universe. It binds me to my people. It creates good will. Sharing someone else’s happiness grows and grows. When we can view the world with eyes focused on the bounty available to us, we can only increase our own happiness and satisfaction with our lives.

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Laughter

sloth - Thowra_uk

“Hi there. Ain’t I such a cutie pie?”
sloth” by Thowra_uk, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Nothing fills the soul with pleasure the way a good belly laugh does! 

Memory 1: A close friend accompanied me to a lecture one evening several years ago. On the way home, I decided to stop at the supermarket for milk. We walked through the aisles toward the very furthest corner at the back of the store where (naturally) the milk was kept. On the way we passed the greeting card display. So we did what women do; we paused to look at a few.

You wouldn’t ordinarily think that greeting cards would be a source of great amusement.

However, some are good for a giggle. Maybe you’d get a few chuckles over a good quote from a “Shoebox” card by Hallmark. Or perhaps Maxine would get you grinning. I’ve dwelled over a few funny cat cards to be sure.  ….. sooooo … (pause for the punch line) …

greeting cards

cards” by Tom Magliery, used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Luckily for us, few people shopped at that particular store at that particular time on that particular date or 9-1-1(1) would have been inundated with calls to rescue the two middle-aged ladies who were rolling on the floor(2) laughing for over an hour!!!

That was a great belly laugh!

spoon

“Speak into the microphone!”

Memory 2: My sisters and I had only one first cousin (our father was an only child and my mom’s sister had only one child). Needless to say, family was small but precious. It was the night before our cousin’s wedding and we four girls went out for coffee and cake without the parents. No bachelorette party but something nice. We were reminiscing, swapping stories, teasing our cousin about marriage, comparing lipstick, etc., and all of the things girls talked about in those days. We were jolly but not outrageous. I remember playing the interviewer, holding up my spoon as if it were a microphone, and asking an interview question around the table. The bride and my sister #2 said something into the “mike” and we were laughing. When I held the “mike” to my sister #1, she was laughing so hard that she burst into tears! At that point, the rest of us lost it and started howling laughing, too. For years afterward, the phrase, “Speak into the microphone,” would propel #1 into paroxysms of tears and laughter.

Now, that really was a great belly laugh!

Have some joy this week.

PS – Doesn’t that little sloth just make you want to smile until your face hurts?  Cuuute!

**************
1. American emergency contact telephone number. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/9-1-1
2. Only in the idiomatic sense; but afterwards, our sides ached from the laughter as if we had been rolling on the floor!

What Mess? What Noise?

 

Whatta lotta matzah!

Whatta lotta matzah!

Passover is done for another year.

I loved it. I loved having five of our children around and various guests. I loved the planning, cooking, and serving. Even the cleanup after meals didn’t faze me. I was “in the zone.” I felt connected and fulfilled. My shopping list on Google Drive made me ecstatic in the stores. I felt efficient and prepared. I loved the crumbs on the table, the potatoes, and having to reach into a different cupboard than usual for a plate. I loved the seeming mess, having things displaced, needing to walk new paths, searching for equipment. A change, a shake-up. Spring-cleaning for the mind. Last year we were slaves; this year we are free.

And oh my–the second batch of chicken soup was one of the best I’ve ever made! With matzah balls! (The first batch was great, but this second batch… ummm yummm!)

Single-Bottle Wine Caddy
Last Sunday I “turned my kitchen over,” i.e., boxed up and sequestered all of the Passover plates, cookware, and equipment so I could bring out the year-round items. I discarded unused equipment: the wine bottle caddy my husband received with a Purim package ages ago but is not useful at the Seder; his Chinese-patterned melamine plates from before we were married that we used before we bought the new purple ones; and the decorative metal and glass serving box for machine-made square matzah because we predominantly eat handmade, round matzahs. I climbed up the stepladder to the cupboard above the refrigerator–which is closed year-round–and lovingly tucked the Passover supplies to sleep for another year.

I wish there had been more noise. Crazy? I wish there had been more visitors. I wish the apartment had been full of our children and their friends laughing, playing games, and squabbling. Although we played Settlers of Catan one afternoon, people drifted away for naps instead of digging in for the noisy, competitive, seemingly endless tournaments we’d played in younger years. The friends live elsewhere and a small New York City apartment gets crowded quickly.

I have memories of family meals from my childhood. Adults babbled in important adult tones; children laughed and shrieked while spilling drinks and tracking crumbs. Blotchy with wine stains, the tablecloth reminded us of years past. There’s a photo of my sister and our cousin, both about 5 years old, pouring soda and laughing. That’s what I remember.

Don't open! חמץ (Chometz; leavened items) may be lurking there!

Don’t open! חמץ (Chometz; leavened items) may be lurking there!

That’s what I hope to recreate.

The noise, the mess, the planning, the excitement. The expectation of the Seder meal, retelling our exodus from slavery in Egypt. The drama of one whole week of the year dominating our minds so thoroughly. That is Passover of the past, present, and of the future. I hope our children will retain happy memories of this year’s holiday. Doesn’t every parent wish this to be so?

We pray: Let us all be reunited in Jerusalem as One People, celebrating the Passover together, giving thanks to the One Who freed us and continues to sustain us throughout all time.

לשנה הבאה בירשלים

Next year in Jerusalem!

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