Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Yarnarian Thinks about Family.

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and as usual, we spent most of the day in synagogue. I think of it as a day of reflection. You can't atone for anything if you don't first think or reflect upon your life over the past year. We don't eat or drink (nope, not even a drop of water) for about 25.5 hours. Yes, it's long, and oh yes, you do get very hungry and thirsty, but interestingly, you don't think too much of food. You would think that you would constantly think about how you are going to break the fast, but you just don't; it only makes you feel worse. So you push those thoughts aside, and concentrate on prayer and atonement and on anything else.

It's a day in which I always reflect on family. My dad, who died almost 37 years ago, my aunts and uncles and cousins, my grandparents, the family I never knew, the family who perished in the Holocaust, the family who went back hundreds of years. A few years ago, the rabbi said something about how all the angels and souls of those who have died, come back on the eve of Yom Kippur and pray with the living. Is that true? Do I know? But I always get the sense that my father is with me that evening, and it gives me great comfort.

It's also a day in which I am so grateful for family who are still with me. This year was very special; my sister and my niece spent both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur with us, and it was like going back to my childhood and hanging out as kids. The poor Hubbo never got in a word edgewise. We talked nonstop about knitting and crochet, about old family customs and recipes and such. Well, not when we were in synagogue, but whenever we were not there, the memories all came back. My sister and I have decided that my niece is the family member to carry on all our old traditions. I have to teach her how to make the Hungarian coffee cake that is our fast breaking delight. The recipe goes back to the 19th century; but my grandmothers made it, and so did my great grandmas. My daughters are not especially interested; OK, they could care less, and that's fine. My nephew just shakes his head, but my wonderful niece wants the old recipes. and she is thinking about teaching her honey all the goofy Viennese songs my father used to sing, and all the family words that we use all the time. For example, when my mom made hamburgers, we never called them that; we called them Faschiertes, Austrian German for hamburgers.

The Mommie is way too old to sit in synagogue for any length of time; she spends the day at her group home. She fasted until she was 91! Can you imagine this? The Mommie is a tough old bird, and only at 91 did she decide that she could no longer fast.

So as you can see, Yom Kippur is not just about atonement for me, but also a day of thinking about family. I feel so sorry for folks who do not speak with their siblings, or parents and children who dislike each other. Life is so short, and often these estrangements end up being about trivialities, or the insults done were so long ago that it really doesn't matter any more. So often someone dies, and you are left with never having said you're sorry, even if it wasn't your fault.

Well, those are my reflections this year. It was a good fast, we all survived, and it was a joy to be in synagogue with my sweet Hubbo on one side of my and my sister and niece on the other side. I felt strengthened by their presence, and I felt such gratitude that I have this wonderful family. I am grateful for them, for my dearest friend, Judy, who is like my older sister, for all our children and grandchildren, siblings, for our mothers, for all those family members who have gone on before. I am grateful for my customers, so many of whom have become dear friends, and for you, dear blog readers, for reading my nonsense. For my country, which is an extraordinary place in which to live, for all the good people in this world who want peace and kindness for all.

Knitting and dyeing news: Are you serious? Did I have time to do any of this? Nope! Two of the grands stayed with us on Saturday. We loved every minute of them, and then their folks picked them up Sunday morning, and I started to get ready for Yom Kippur. I haven't had a moment in which to breathe, but things calm down this week, so Wed or Thurs I'll be back to dyeing. I've been doing some intense colors, and this week I think I'll go back and explore some of the very pale dyes I own. Mix them up and combine with other colors and see what happens.

And that's the story, Morning Glory!

Denise Vitola - I love this holiday. I could do without the fasting, but that goes hand in hand with Yom Kippur. Besides, just about everyone in synagogue feels as crummy as you do, so there is strength in numbers. And food and water taste so wonderful afterwards.

KV - "Do I have to do tumbling blocks in intarsia?", she whines! Sigh. very big sigh.

Holly - And of course, since it is Sukkot, it is getting rainy.


Denise Vitola said...

Ruth--your holiday sounds wonderful. I'm not Jewish, but you have definitely inspired me to have my own personal day of Atonement. Thanks for that. Denise

kv said...

that was lovely ruth, i'm glad you had such family-filled holiday.

and i can heartily recommend tumbling blocks. it's easier than it looks, hypnotic and fun.

Holly said...

We start and end with family; what makes life worth while.

And then, after reflecting we are on to Sukkot.....

the mystery shawl yarns do look perfect for fall


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