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In the house of apple and honey

September 6, 2013

Rosh HashanahWe all have our favorite holiday. Some look forward to decorating their house with spiderwebs, skeletons, and jack-o-lanterns, or pulling out the big roasting pan for turkey, or putting up the Christmas tree. In Eric’s case, it’s drinking five Seder cups of wine during Passover (the fifth cup is optional for Jerusalem). As for me, it’s all about Rosh Hashanah. There are many reasons why Rosh Hashanah makes me feel giddy with anticipation.  For starters, it’s the first holiday after the summer break, so I know all the other fun ones are just around the corner. Secondly, since I am no longer physically capable of staying up until midnight on the 31st of December, I get to ring in new year in the Jewish style– at sunset! And finally, it’s the food! (I bet you saw that one coming a mile away).

This year, Rosh Hashanah was particularly exciting for us as this was Noah’s first Jewish holiday. He did get to star in his Brit Milah or Bris as it’s more commonly known, but he had mixed feelings about that one (ouch!).

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Looking back, some of my best childhood memories were around holiday times, when the house was hustling and bustling with preparation. My grandma spent days (sometimes way into the night and early morning) getting everything ready before the guests arrived (even if it was just my parents and I). It would start with scrubbing the house, including washing all the sheets and curtains (you never know when the guests might want to take a nap, so you better have fresh linens ready!) Back in those days everything was washed by hand, then hung outside to dry (pedestrians miles away could tell the day of the week by the colorful patterns of my grandpa’s underpants), then ironed while watching the news in the living room (which often resulted in at least one burnt item). No matter how early my grandma started, there was never enough time as she, still dripping with sweat from the heat of the stove, would dive into the bedroom to put on her dressiest outfit just as the guests were knocking on the door. Even though we celebrated only non-Jewish holidays in my Soviet-era childhood, my bubbie is always in my heart and mind this time of year.

Cleaning and organizing the house before holidays is a tradition that I was raised to keep. So just as my grandma decades ago, I woke up before dawn (my hungry-baby alarm went off at 5:53am) and did two loads of laundry so all of our bedding was clean and fresh (thank goodness for appliances). I dusted, vacuumed and mopped the floors, and cleaned up the bathrooms (just on the first floor. My grandma after all lived in a 500 square foot condo, not a 2800 sq foot Texan home). Then I cooked honey cake, tzimmes, chicken (Rosh Hashanah Recipes) while Noah was peacefully sleeping in his swing to all the kitchen noise.

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Next on the list was a quick stop by Whole Foods to pick up fresh Challah. Despite a wide selection– round plain, braided with raisins, braided with sesame seeds, round with poppy seeds, and even round with apple and cinnamon (which should have been classified as a coffee cake), they did not have the combination I really wanted, round with raisins, so I settled for plain round. With the baby bathed, changed, fed, and snoozing in the swing, it was time to light the candles and let the festivities begin.

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With such a busy day behind me, I was looking forward to Kiddush.

L’shanah Tovah! (For a good year!) I know this year will be a sweet one as I get to spend it with my honey.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. thebabydoctorswife permalink
    September 7, 2013 5:44 am

    I love this! Thank you for sharing your family traditions. I love learning about ways different people celebrate. Looks like your grandma taught you a lot. How special to carry on that tradition! Most of our neighbors are Jewish, and I really enjoy all of the festivities! Have a great new year!

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