Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Traditions, and Our Lives

Apparently, Sean is going to go home with his dad. It is unclear what happens now, but the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled in favor of David Goldman. Here’s what I don’t get. Right after they made the decision, why didn’t daddy Goldman get in a car with Rep. Chris Smith, drive directly to the kidnappers home, and take the child. The scenario would be something like; they drive up in an American Embassy vehicle. (This is important because the major reason the Brazilian’s ruled for Goldman was because the United States threatened sanctions which would have an adverse impact on their economy.) Then they all get out of the car and knock on the door. I would suggest Chris and the Ambassador lead the way. Then David approaches and says, I know this is confusing for you Sean, but we’re getting on a plane and going back to New Jersey, your home. We have a lifetime for me to explain all of this, but I love you and ultimately it is right for us to start this New Year together. And because it’s Christmas, not only will we thank God but I’ll buy you big expensive presents. I like the idea of bribes.

The holidays seem never to be easy for families. Whether it’s too much tension, too much stress or the idea that people who are related but don’t necessarily like one another, feel forced to be together. Ultimately, it is not always a time to reunite in a positive way. We, like so many other families, always celebrated the holidays in traditional ways. In other words, we had traditions. For example, we always celebrated Thanksgiving in New Jersey with my brother's family, friends and mom. The tradition began with dinner at the Reservoir Tavern the night before Thanksgiving. Then, on Thanksgiving the kids would make a gingerbread house and I would cook with my sister-in-law. We would always get a Honey Baked ham for Seth, and we would cook a delicious turkey, mashed potatoes (usually purple), green beans with cream of mushroom soup and French’s fried onions, a squash soufflĂ© and stuffing. After dinner other friends would join us for dessert and coffee. For the last few years, Before mom moved, she would get sick and we would spend the rest of the night in the hospital—that was always colorful.

We have been celebrating Christmas with the same friends for more years than I would believe possible. When I was small I went by myself. Once we were grown the whole family was invited. It usually starts with dinner at the ‘’Res’ the night before Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve we have appetizers, good wine and lasagna at the Hance’s. Christmas morn is spent with Joyce and Ron and their family. We eat, and sing and exchange silly gifts. For me, laughter, family and good friends are what the holidays are about. But things change.

Once mom moved out of her house, Seth and Joyce stopped coming and opted to spend Thanksgiving at home in Plymouth, Ma. The rest of us moved Thanksgiving out to Bainbridge, Washington so we would still be with mom. We usually celebrated the week before the actual date because it was easier to travel that week.. It was always fun, we still miss not having Joyce and Seth and now their kids celebrate with us but things change.

Last year, because we had already celebrated Thanksgiving (and David was somewhere working), Jordan and I had a lovely meal at the York Grill. The restaurant was booked to capacity so we sat at the bar for dinner and drinks and it was most delightful. This year David was going to be gone again and Jordan decided to spend the holiday with her boyfriend and his family. I spent the afternoon with my college friends and had dinner with new friends back in the city. On Christmas, Jordan will be with us, Seth and Joyce with her family. And I know things will continue to change. Eventually, I fear David and I will be spending the Christmas with friends, sans family, and who knows what will happen with other holidays, like Passover – which is much more important to us than it is to our children. Glad we did the “Gefilte Fish Chronicles” because at least we will always have those memories.

David and I know that there is really nothing we can do if our children’s lives lead them to make decisions that do not include us for family celebrations. Seth has his own fabulous family and their own traditions, and Jordan has someone she loves who also has traditions. Part of it may be that we have accommodated everyone’s schedules by celebrating holidays on days that were not actually the holiday. That was also colorful, and easier. But it may have led the kids to believe holidays were not important to us – as opposed to, holidays were so important we wanted to celebrate them whenever we could.

When we were kids it was traditional to eat dinner at Aunt Sophie’s every Friday night. There were no excused absences, no passes. Time passed, we grew up, Aunt Sophie sold the house and, as adults, we grew apart. Recently, the absence of ongoing old traditions and realization that the “kids” have their own lives is not as easy to deal with as we thought it would be. But life moves on. Things change, and we feel sure there will be new traditions to which we can look forward. Every holiday will be a new adventure. We’ll just leave a cell phone number in case anyone wants to text us to find out where we are. We’re just sayin’…. Iris

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