It always amazes me (though by now it probably should not,) how Hashem arranges things to happen at the “right time,” and it is all a very customized right time for each one of us. We have gone away for Thanksgiving to my husband’s side of the family for our entire married life, except for the one year when I was almost 9 months pregnant with our first child and then my in-laws came to us. (Being from Canada, and Thanksgiving a month and a half earlier, visiting my side of the family was never an option at this time.) Our family celebrates Thanksgiving. It is a time to be thankful for the sacrifices of others to let us be who we want to be today. Baruch Hashem we are allowed our own religion and to observe it the way we choose as well as choose various life paths as we see fit.
This year we were unfortunately not able to make our yearly pilgrimage to the southern part of the country for the prices of the plane tickets DOUBLED and with 6 people that makes one big difference! We were sad and disappointed for that means there will be only 1, not 5 boys running around Aunty’s house and no visiting with their Uncle and Grandpa either. There is a rhyme and reason to all that happens in this world and the more I look for it the more I see it. We do not always get to see the intricate web of life that is woven but if we are on the lookout, sometimes we are lucky to catch a few glimpses.
Since we will be at home, I decided to add some decoration to the kitchen. My oldest printed out some place cards with everyone’s name on them and I went to a neat website called The Toy Maker which is filled with various paper toys and projects for everyone. There are a lot of wonderful neat ideas to print out and fold. There is even a newsletter to join to receive emails 3-4 times a year with links to various seasonal projects that the author has created. In keeping with our “I’m Thankful to Hashem for…” theme we have been on this past month, we printed out some pretty cards from her Thanksgiving page and we all wrote out various things we are thankful for. There are the standard thank you’s about the pilgrims, pumpkin pie and turkey, as well as some non-standard one such as being thankful for being able to go to a friend’s wedding this Thanksgiving weekend and even one that said, “I’m thankful that you are here!” (and yes, it really was directed to Mommy!)
Hashem really does work in mysterious and wondrous ways. Having turkey on Thanksgiving seems to be a staple for many families who celebrate but not for us – for various reasons we have dairy on Thanksgiving so this will be our first Thanksgiving with a turkey and the boys are so very excited. That definitely is something to be thankful for. Baruch Hashem this weekend will be filled with more wonderful simchas with first a Bar Mitzvah on Shabbos and then the wedding of a friend on Sunday. None of these we would be able to enjoy if we went away as usual. Hashem knew. Both simchas are ones I definitely did not want to have to miss and would have if the prices of the plane tickets did not double. Yes, I will miss cooking a fun wonderful meal with my sister-in-law this year, but no longer am I disappointed in not being able to go. IY”H the cooking will happen next year.
Aside from the turkey, 3 different kinds of potatoes (blue, yellow and red), homemade cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, lemon pie, yams with marshmallow fluff (a requirement by boys’ standard!), green beans, salad and fruit, as well as anything else I have forgotten to mention, I am most thankful today for my oldest asking me “when are we going today?” After going back and forth with him about what and when he was talking about, I remembered we were going to the Jewish Senior Home this morning to do a challah presentation. Baruch Hashem he reminded me before we had to be there! After several minutes of running around getting everyone ready, we were off and even arrived 5 minutes early.
Now, I hate to admit it, but this is only my second time being in the Jewish Home. I do not have to be told how such a mitzvah it is to go there. My Grandmother is in one and I did have the opportunity to visit with her twice last year, for which I am very grateful. I just do not really know anyone who is in the senior home here and with being a very quiet person, I have a hard time going up and just talking. That goes for sick people in the hospital as well. The times I have visited someone in the hospital I have dragged a friend or two along or hidden amongst my boys in the room. I’m just not a talker!
However, I do believe it is an extremely important mitzvah to do and I have struggled in my mind how to teach this to my boys. Monkey See Monkey Do. There are other things that I do and I make sure boys help participate. If they see me doing something then it will be easier for them to do (and more likely they will do it.) But, if Mommy is not doing it, why should they? I have found that if I can get myself to do something like this a few times, then the situation starts to get a little easier. After 3 or 4 times going with a friend to visit a particular someone in the hospital, then going by myself does not seem as fearful for I will have a repertoire of things to say and talk about.
I was asked by a friend who works in the senior home if I would come and do a challah presentation over there. I figured that was exactly what I needed – I needed a reason to be there to help “hide” behind; something I could use to talk about. I know I have one outgoing boy, one sort of shy boy (whom I thought took after me in this area) and one EXTREMELY shy boy (whom I did not realize was that shy,) plus the little one who is both here and there. I took them all with me. It was the opportunity I was looking for to teach them about this big mitzvah.
The boys were all busy with their various degrees of shyness and using Mommy as their safety net that I do not think they realized they were used as a safety net as well! I definitely had to step up to the plate for them but I think we all had fun. As soon as I started talking to the Grandmas, I had all 4 boys beside me. I was not planning on having them helping in that way, but realized that was their way of hiding behind me. I talked and explained all I knew about bread making and challah making and the boys did. They scooped the flour and sugar, poured the oil, mixed and kneaded and were all kept busy and (for the most part,) out of trouble. They even braided and egged and sesamed the challah. It gave them the courage to put away some of that shyness and do a mitzvah. I was even asked again if I would come back in the spring. (Phew! We were liked!) That is just what we all need – a reason to go. After another 1-2 times of doing this, I think that even the extremely shy one will have more confidence and none of us will need that safety net.
As we are remembering all the things to be thankful for, let us not forget to daven for the safety and well being of all our family and friends in Israel, especially the ones serving in the IDF. The more things we can be thankful for the better.