Tag Archives: holiday

Happy Mother’s Day

13 May

I hope you have had a great day even if it was without celebration. This year more than others, I noticed how this day comes with expectations—for moms and their children, especially adult daughters. I heard women announcing plans to have their moms over for a meal. Some were very happy—for them today is just another excuse to spend time with their moms, something they try to do often. Others complained about having to prepare and cook, as a daughter, when today should be a day of relaxation, as a mother. While this holiday does not get as much press as Christmas, I have been bombarded with e-mail offers for weeks.  Ads for discounted flowers and pajamas overwhelmed radio stations and newspapers.

My own family is so busy studying for AP exams, writing essays, etc., that we could not plan a Mother’s Day family outing. And, since we do not have a grandmother to invite over for the obligatory meal, it was not necessary to call everyone together during the day. With time constraints in mind, I decided we should go out for dinner. Simple and stress-free.

As I condoned a Mother’s Day without much pomp and circumstance, I knew I would have my mom’s support. My mother encouraged us to do less. My mom did not have any need to make a big deal over a “Hallmark” holiday. After all of these years, I decided to investigate how this holiday started-  is Hallmark behind all of the hoopla?  I was surprised to learn that in 1870, Julia Ward Howe proclaimed the day a holiday to celebrate the men who fought in and survived the Civil War and to allow them to be at home with their moms. To follow Howe’s lead, another women’s activist, Anna Reeves continued the quest to make a special day to honor mothers and seek peace (http://www.mothersdaycentral.com/about-mothersday/history/).  My mom would have loved to know that Reeves tried to abolish the holiday when it became too commercial.

So, it seems like we cannot give credit to Hallmark and we should remember that the holiday started because a few women wanted to ensure that young men and women would have time to spend with their moms.

That brings me back to my original question, what celebrations are necessary? What should busy daughters do for their moms? Perhaps because I do not have a mom to shower with gifts and meals or because I wish I did, I take a very liberal stance on this holiday. I hope the celebrations we have are not out of obligation or guilt, but are mutually satisfying. What do you do to celebrate Mother’s Day- if you are fortunate enough to have your mom to celebrate with or if you are not….


Hagafen time

20 Apr

Holidays are certainly a time when we feel the loss of family and friends.  I have a couple of vivid Passover stories—I am choosing the humorous one to share. . The first thing that I think of when I recall my mom on Passover is having four cups of wine.  This might make her sound like a lush (urbandictionary.com), but she was not—really. Perhaps because she did not drink on a regular basis or simply because she became giddy at the seder, her four cups of wine were a focal point at our seders.  We teased her throughout the seder. She once made the mistake of asking “Is it Hagafen (Hebrew for fruit of vine”  time? So, our standing joke was telling her when it was that time again. I still picture us gathered around our dining room table, getting close to the next cup of wine and giggling over “Hagafen time.”  I remember the year she decided we should follow the Lubavitch guidelines because they mandated 3.5 ounces per glass during the seder. What an excuse—getting tipsy during the seder was not her idea or desire- it was a religious custom that she chose to follow.

What parts of a holiday make you miss your mom the most? What are the most defining memories of your mother during Passover and Good Friday? Passover brings a bittersweet sadness since it is a time I wish my mom could join me in all of the prayers and stories and together say we would say, “Hagafen.”

Holiday Time

14 Apr

Sharing events that invite mother/daughter participation are  bittersweet for me. I love to see my peers with their moms and sometimes with their daughters also, enjoying an event that involves 2 -3 generations of women in their family. My immediate reaction is, “I wish my mom was here to enjoy this together.” Fortunately, at my Temple’s Women’s Seder tonight, my memories took hold and brought me back to a special event my mom and I attended while I was a teenager. We toured the Lower East Side of New York with our Temple’s Sisterhood. It was a different Temple and different type of event, but engendered the same warm feelings of Jewish cultural history and holiday preparation. As if it was yesterday, I remember standing in the basement of the Kosher winery, being treated to a sip of sweet wine and learning how it is made all year-long. We visited (but did not immerse ourselves in) a Mikvah. Along the way, we stopped for the usual pickle and deli treats. These shared experiences really do last a lifetime!

As the Passover holiday arrives, I will be reminiscing (and writing) about the spending the holiday with my mom—and the one year she and my dad were away and left me without family. Holiday and religious celebrations are family time and absolutely leave me missing my mom and my dad. So, this is when I look at my family now and treasure each shared moment, making sure that the holidays provide us with good feelings and long-lasting, forever memories.

What holiday memories do you have? If you are motherless, do you feel especially sad during holidays? How do you make your memories last, what memories do you bring to your holiday table?

Corned Beef and Cabbage – A Celebration

13 Mar

After seeing every bit of meat, cabbage, potatoes and bread devoured, I wonder how my mom would react to my family’s annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner.  I know she liked corned beef and she ate cabbage, especially stuffed. But, I also know she did not enjoy celebrating holidays that started with St.

I can recall many Februarys when she would remind my father that he should not give her flowers or any gift for Valentine’s Day because it was not “her” holiday. It still puzzles me that, as a Jew, she seemed offended that we were expected to celebrate holidays honoring saints. I can hear her unwavering belief that, “These holidays could not be “Americanized.’” She did not mind that I exchanged cards with other children in school and she did not speak out against other Jews partaking in Valentine’s rituals. But, still, she did ruin some of the February 14th fun.

I wish I had the opportunity to invite her for dinner this week. She would not have to wear green or acknowledge St. Patrick. Having this delicious meal has become a tradition that my husband and children relish. I am definitely drawn in by the holiday hype and Shop Rite specials. I’d love to think that her opposition to such celebrations would have lessened with age and that she, who loved bargains and good food, would enjoy or even applaud my efforts.

I wonder if other motherless women have initiated traditions that their mothers would question. I wonder if we, motherless women, even find some relief knowing that our mothers will not judge these questionable rituals. Or, do others fantasize, as I do, that our mothers would have mellowed and even express approval? Are there things you do (or don’t do) because your mom will not know? If your mom is in your life, what influence does she have on the traditions you do or do not keep?