It is always so wonderful when family shares a meal. The family gathers at 6pm for wine and hors-d’oeuvres (chaseri, or pig food, in Yiddish). POB (partner of blogger) made a great lentil dish, roasted tomato soup accompanied by green salad and bread, all served cold for a great summer time meal.
Dad, of course, came early. Not just a little early. 4pm. A reminder to discuss whether the “Early-Bird Special” was an invention or just putting a name to a syndrome of old age. But I digress.
Yesterday, Dad and SOB (sister of blogger) saw the movie about Sholom Aleichem, the great Yiddish writer. So, Dad was waxing philosophic about his mamer loshen (mother tongue), repeating much of the Reform Jewish rationalism for stamping out a “ghetto language”.
My generation thinks very differently about Yiddish. We wish we knew it. Many of us wish we could have spoken to our grandparents in Yiddish. We could have had more than broken, basic conversations with them. We could have learned about our history in one of the most expressive languages of our day.
TLP (our son, the little prince) was excited to learn how to respond to Dad, when he said “vus machster?” [what's doing?] TLP said, “Ich ikh bin leyenung” [I'm reading]. It was a great moment.
Still, Dad has to be at peace with the choices he and Mom made and I need to let him have that peace. But it was a grueling 1:45 hours until SOB and HOSOB (husband of SOB) showed up (they know that Dad comes early). Dad continued to talk about Yiddish and Sholom Aleichem and then started singing “Sholom Aleichem”. SOB shut that down in record time. She came over to tell me that he kept singing that in full voice at lunch after seeing the movie. Somethings should stay in synagogue. That hallel is one of them.
By the time we exhausted ourselves and the topic, Cousin Gentle and CB (Cousin Birder) arrived. The full complement.
As always, the conversation ranged in topics and sentiments. Dad worried that we had chocolate-covered peanuts on the table — AS IF we would have anything on the table to which anyone is allergic, much less have them in the house if OUR SON, TLP, were allergic. (Dad, do you know me?) But I let that roll off me. I counted backwards from ten multiple times. We started talking about politics, always good for the heart rate. Cousin Gentle worried that John Boehner was having a deleterious effect on my health. Actually, I was still gobsmacked that my father would think I would put poison on my table. Cousin Gentle tried to share some of his Buddhist enlightenment. I tried to be receptive, all the while repeating, “Dad is almost 91 years old. At least he still worries about other people, even if his comments suggest that his daughter could be the headline story of New York Post edition.”
Unfortunately, Cousin Gentle thought he might have offended me. He called after dinner to make sure all was ok. It seemed time to reiterate the rules of Sunday night dinner:
It is so wonderful when family gathers.
- You can say anything at our table if said with a good heart.
- No holds barred.
- Everyone has to be able to kiss and say I love you at the end of the night.
Corollaries and Commentary:
- You can be:
- critical (did HOSOB really say something critical about marriage when he married SOB?),
- questioning (to wit, Dad’s thinking we would put peanuts on the table if someone were allergic),
- fun-loving (CB’s teasing TLP), and/or
- torturing (ok, that’s all me)
- If you do any three out of four in the same sentence, we’ll give you a door-prize.
Come with your love, your opinions (except Dad) and your insights. Oh, and your appetite.