Erev Rosh Hashanah
I got all sad tonight. I'd kind of remembered to forget that tonight is Erev Rosh Hashanah, mostly because I am completely not a Practicing Jewish Person in any religious sense.
But, as I attempted to convey to my children at dinner, I am culturally Jewish. And therefore, half their ancestors are, too. I told them that they come from a long line of people who were strong in the face of much persecution, and I said that my cultural background has trained me to Be Straightforward - no wishy-washy namby-pamby afraid-to-talk-about-what-we-believe around here...no sirree! And this is because, in the Jewish/Pagan home of my youth, we say what we think about things!
Which is, I told my children, a gift that I now pass on to them. And anyway, even though I have next to zero energy to implement Ritual in our lives, I told my kids tonight that I was sad because Grandma and Grandpa and Aunty Theeny are all hanging out, and Jews all over the world are celebrating Erev Rosh Hashanah...and I'd kind of forgotten about it.
Ho Hum. The boredom - I mean, Respectful Listening - was palpable. None of the children had any Further Questions.
Then Jeff (sweet man he is!) asked how I used to celebrate when I was little. I described how we'd go down to Donaldson Park and "throw away" the things from the past year that we no longer wanted - pain, suffering, being mean to siblings, oppressive governmental regimes, etc. In the next week or so after Rosh Hashanah, you're supposed to think about whether you need to make amends with anyone you've wronged during the past year, so it's a good time to start thinking about that, too.
I couldn't quite remember HOW we threw things away - papers into a fire, maybe? Or perhaps it was just the thoughts we threw...into the Raritan River...except the river was too polluted to touch, so I think one year we Threw Away pollution, just for good measure.
Jeff offered to light a fire in a bowl so we could burn up lists of Bad Things. "But what kinds of things would we throw away?" Ben and Jem said they couldn't think of anything. Eliza thought we'd have to throw away some toys.
And then Jeff had a genius idea: "We can send the lists up on rockets!"
I was a little dubious. "You have to work with your audience," Jeff said convincingly. "What would YOU rather do? Toss some thoughts into the creek...or Blow Them Up?!"
Instantly, there was total buy-in around the dinner table. "Yeah!" "How do we attach them?" "Do we send up a rocket for everybody?"
In no time, Jeff procured small, fireworks-size pieces of paper. Each person (some of us requiring more brainstorming assistance than others) made a list of Things To Throw Away as we head into the new year:
Jeff - distraction, fatigue
Jem - lip rashes
Eliza - screaming at parents (and another thing, too)
Sara - anxiety, overwehelmtion, kids' lip rashes, screaming [by all family members except in emergencies], feeling poor
Ben - anxiety, OCD, trouble falling asleep
After chores, and everyone getting ready for bed, we walked way out into the south field with a good supply of fireworks, a lighter, and tape to attach each person's list.
And in the traditional manner of Jews down through the ages, each person's regrets were blown into the sky with a bang!
Jem already has ideas for improving the launcher for next year's Rosh Hashanah.
L'shanah tovah t'kahtayvu
May You be inscribed in the Book of Life...with rockets! :)