Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Happy New Year Story

Wednesday evening was Rosh Hashanah - Jewish New Year's eve.  In the Jewish calendar the year is now 5772.  Welcome to the future.  The future is now.

Normally my family would gather at my middle aunt's house to celebrate the occasion, however middle aunt and her family are travelling in Israel.  One of my mother's many cousins invited us to celebrate with her and a variety of close and distant family members.  It was a good thing.  We were able to mark the holiday, which is an important family tradition.  At the same time, we were able to avoid an immediate family gathering so soon after Zaidy's death.  If it had been only the usual suspects around the usual table, his absence would have been very vivid.  This way there was no empty chair to make everyone feel sad all evening.

My mother's cousin R and her husband T live in a lovely, big house.  It's filled with beautiful paintings done by R and by her late mother, Auntie A.  R and T have three kids, whom I last saw around 20 years ago.  Their eldest son is now working as a hazzan in London, England.  Their daughter, whom I remember as a little girl, is in medical school.  And the younger son, who I remember as a six-year-old with a headful of blond ringlets, is now doing his Ph.D. in mathematics.

Two elderly cats live in the house.  The dinner guests kept leaning down to say "Here kitty kitty!  Aw, isn't she cute!"   "Be careful," warned our hosts, "they're incontinent.  And they throw up everywhere.  Does anyone want to take them home?  You can have either or both for free."

I have always thought it was very cool that R and T's house has an elevator.  R has rheumatoid arthritis, and since it was impossible to predict how bad it might get in the future, T had a little elevator installed in the house when they moved in.  Fortunately R is doing well and is completely mobile.  I'm sure the elevator comes in handy anyway.

When we were seated at dinner I ended up sitting beside the younger son, the math Ph.D. student.  I asked "Is there any way that you can explain what you're studying to someone like me in a way that I can understand it?  At all?"  In fact he could.  For the record, he is investigating algebra-geometry equations that involve counting the number of points along a particular curve.  Apparently this is applicable in cryptography, for example, in the algorithms that are used to secure transmissions such as cell phone calls.  The conversation floundered a bit after that, because what can I say about encryption algorithms?  Er, neat!  *crickets*

Later we talked about more normal things, like how many puns you can make on the word challah.  Ken came up with the Challah-Deck, which would be a Star Trek-themed Jewish restaurant and bakery.  Math son came up with Challah-Back girls.  I asked if anyone has got around to marketing a candy called Jew Jubes.  I just Googled it and apparently it's getting some use as an offensive phrase.  That's too bad.  It has so much potential.

After dinner we gathered around the enormous TV in the family room to look at scans of old family photographs.  The generation ahead of me was making all the points in the game of "Identify That Relative!"  Most of the photos were from the 1930's and '40's. I saw pictures of my mom between the ages of 3 and 12 that I'd never seen before.  For some reason there was also a shot of my younger aunt and cousin R each perched on one of Santa's knees.  How is it that two Jewish kids (of observant parents) had their photo taken with a mall Santa in 1966?  These are the mysteries of our mixed-up culture.

Dinner was lovely and a good time was had by all.  See?  Good Adventures in Sparkland are not over yet!


Judy (kenju) said...

it sounds like a fun time, despite your recent loss. I really like challah back girls!!

DarcKnyt said...

I'm glad it was a good time. I wish I could've been there, actually. And now, I want an elevator in MY house too. :)

Lynn said...

It sounds lovely.

Jameil said...

Hurray for happy adventures in Sparkland!!!! I thoroughly enjoyed this recounting of welcoming in the year 5772! Minus the sick cats. Blech. I'm glad you linked to hazzan, tho b/c I was quite clueless. I think neat is an apt response! Might kill convos but it makes me giggle! Challah is such yummy bread.

Jenski said...

Sounds like a fun evening to balance out life!

Granny Annie said...

I am happy that you had this lovely time for smiles and joy. Thanks for sharing the events with us.

DarcsFalcon said...

I'm so happy you had a good time! You've had such a rough couple of weeks so it's nice to hear that there are still lots of good times in Sparkland. :)

I LOVE the challah-deck! That's so cute!

Happy New Year, Spark! May it bring you you much prosperity and health. :)


Sounds like a beautiful night filled with family and memories. Who can ask for anything better. Not being Jewish didnt know about the Jewish new year. Going to have to FB my jewish friends and get out my yiddish book..they alway find it funny. zman sends