It’s time to ring in a new year, shed those old layers of regret, and begin again. It’s time to forget the grudges, bury the past, and break bread with the future. It’s no longer time to keep the pain and misery or cry a thousand rivers. Forget that time. It’s over, done, and finished with, but you are not finished, if you can let the past go. It may not be December ringing those New Year bells, but it is Rosh Hashanah, where we enjoy the comfort and love of family, forgetting about those pesky petty moments that tore us done, keeping us apart.
The dinner table was set for six, but it struggled to fit ten. Chairs slapped against wooden and metal chairs. Table settings swam over table settings, and silverware cluttered into sparkling, long heaps waiting to be used. No wine glasses were set, but who needs wine for a good time? Plastic ware was the best way to go, faster clean-up, and there was plenty for those extra helpings. Warmth glowed liked the ancient chandelier hanging overhead, and footsteps marched to their empty seats. And dinner began.
My family and I were hardly religious. We allowed all the forbidden foods denied from a kosher house, and we especially loved that pork fried rice. We did not cut power to the electricity on Yom Kippur and sit in the dark, observing and atoning, and some of us don’t even bother fasting. If you asked us about those four questions that we’re supposed to ask, we would simply reply, “Who, What, Where, and When?” When it comes to Rosh Hashanah, it’s a very different story because not only is that the Jewish New Year, it is also the time, where family reunites and puts their differences aside.
My family was no Brady Bunch but a slight blend between Married With Children and Everybody Loves Raymond. We all squabble, we all bicker, and we all hide in our rooms when we want to be left alone. Some of us have even left home, moved out or got married, and then the wives came in, which made things even more interesting. And when under one roof like last night, the insults start flying. “Do you remember that time when you… How about the time when you… I can’t believe you still remember that.” Wonderful dinner conversations, where the wives and girlfriends of my brothers look at us like we have three heads, and we’re all laughing our asses off. My mother looked like she wanted to crawl under the table, but my father roared with laughter along with us. That was our family. We would dredge up all those horrible, embarrassing moments and launch them at each other, and we would be hysterical while retaliating back. But the looks on the wives and girlfriend’s faces would forever be priceless especially when given a gooey plate of gefilte fish.
We knew when seated at the table to be careful of what to say to the other. We’ve had our differences in the past, bitter disagreements, and even a grudge or two. The awkwardness would take time to melt, but as one statement came out along with another, we forgot what we were angry about. We craved the good times and buried the bad, and we forgot why we had not seen the other for a very long time. We were family again, and that was all that mattered. Six kids plus two, and mom and dad. And also six cats and two poodles, waiting so patiently for the remains of dinner.
Time escaped us. When had become now, and now was reaching its end. We were stuffed to the gills with desert on the horizon. Smiles dangled at our lips, and love silenced bitterness. We sat in harmony, wondering why did we ever leave, but if we stayed too long, we might just remember the why. We talked of later, those days that stretched ahead. Can you believe it’s October? When would we see each other again?
And so Rosh Hashanah came to its end. Leftovers were placed in trays and cradled in the nooks of arms. Kisses touched cheeks, saying good-bye, and arms wrapped around heart, until we meet again. The cold outside melted from the warmth of love, and a few giggles slipped into the air. And ever so gently did the front door close. Bright headlights awoke, chasing darkness, and making its way home. Until we meet again when November waltzes in and brings us back under one roof on the day we call, Thanksgiving.