New Year, No Change
What would a blog about my life and Yiddish be without a post about Rosh Hashana. Rosh Hashana is the Jewish New Year, and those of us who aren’t atheist/heathens go to temple/synagogue/shul. It’s one of the High Holy Days. You know how Christians have “Easter/Christmas Christians” or whatever that’s called? Jews have Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur as the equivalent. Rosh Hashana is one of my favorite Jewish holidays, because for my family – there are no prayers and the food requirements are essentially – sweet and round, if possible. This, I can handle. No fasting, no matzoh restrictions – just apples, honey and raisin-studded challah. No complaints.
The plan was to have the dinner at my mom’s house, because for some crazy reason she wanted to – but more importantly, Grandma really can’t host a meal any more – she won’t admit it, but it’s true. And it’s actually more work for all of us to do this at her house, plus she retains the right to yell at everyone even more than normal. On the invitee list: Me (of course), Frank (because he really can’t refuse), my friend Michelle (because she has a morbid fascination with my family and a really strong love of brisket), Grandma, and Grandma’s two friends. Frank’s parents were unable to attend, and my darling sister has flown to Rio de Janeiro for the weekend (no joke!) Total Jew Count? 3/7.
But – this because this is my life, nothing is that simple. I worked from home on Friday, so that I could make rugelach and go to my mom’s a little early. Everything was kind of on track – I wasn’t really accomplishing as much as I hoped on the work front, and while my new kitchen is fabulous and awesome, rugelach is one high-maintainence cookie. The phone rings at about 3 (I was planning on leaving at about 4:30), and it’s my mom. Can I leave work early and go to Grandma’s house. Apparently – she spilled chicken fat/gravy all over the floor and is danger of falling/has fallen/is freaking out/screaming. Oh, and can I bring Grandma over to her house when I come over?
Wonderful. I jumped in the shower, explained the situation to my boss who, because he is used to my life being a low-rated soap opera, believed me and wished me luck. Frank takes over rugelach-baking and I hightail it to Grandma’s. By the time I get there, she has managed to clean up the floor with every towel she ever owned and vinegar. Now she is freaking out about her lost glasses. I find the glasses and instead of rushing, she is schpatziring in a bra and slip, doing her make-up and kvetching about her roommate for my cousin’s Bat Miztvah in two months (hint – it’s Aunt Dot – that post is going to write itself.)
I get her, the 14 pound turkey, an emergency gravy boat, two extra bottles of wine (convinced her to leave the scotch) and what’s left of my sanity into the car and sit in traffic for a half hour on my way to mom’s. In the meantime, now Michelle has to come from Long Island and go pick up Frank.
Mom set a beautiful table. So pretty, it’s worth sharing.
Mom, Grandma and I finish preparing the meal, setting the table, fighting and rearranging the contents of a stove. I have never missed my little sister so much.
The meal itself went very well. Grandma’s friends were lovely, brought flowers, some transliterated prayers (promptly put aside, never to be read), more wine and generally kept her entertained. She regaled them of stories about how I went to Paris one year and came back with braided hair (apparently, a scandal) and they discussed her talents in art class.
Mom’s cooking was absolutely fantasic, and it goes without saying that there was way, way, way too much of it. Each guest got a little care package. In addition to snackies before the meal, there was matzoh ball soup, two briskets, the aforementioned turkey, challah, asparagus, some sort of string bean dish, bean salad, sweet potatoes with marshmallow (yay!), stuffing, potaoes and carrots in the brisket sauce, apple cake, noodle kugel and I am sure I am forgetting something else. Dessert was honey cake, ice cream, italian wedding cookies, rugelach, clementines, a fruit platter and a tiramisu cake and key lime cake that an upstairs neighbor brought down.
We all survived and a new year was ushered in. The picture below is my favorite. Frank is of course sharing his true feelings, and I believe I captured the look on Michelle’s face when she first realized that although she was lured in by brisket, she has to stay until the end of the meal.