Mt. Laundry is slowly eroding. Likewise, the piles of fancy glasses, of wine goblets, and of serving platters are shrinking in our kitchen. The pieces of our sukkah have been dried of dew, folded or rolled up, and placed back in the far corner of our storage space. Our mirpesset has been swept. Our front steps have been hosed down. Gradually, we are returning order, as well, to the bookcases housing our seferim. During that glorious span that encompassed the weeks before Rosh Hashanah through Shabbot Bereishit, we “partied.”
We increased our prayers. We increased our joy. We fasted the White Fast. We danced with and because of the Torah.
Computer Cowboy took vacation for the greater portion of this period. Older Dude got leave from yeshiva for the second half of this time. Missy Older, Younger Dude and Missy Younger all were out of school. Yours Truly, ever self-employed, likewise, skipped work for the majority of these weeks.
We were elevated by our guests, too. Beloved out-of-towners visited us. Precious local friends popped by. We hosted yeshiva bucharim, we hosted pals’ of our kids, and we hosted dear ones, who had made aliyah years before we did, with whom we used to share holidays in the Alter Heim, i.e. in the “New World” more commonly known as “New Jersey.”
We sang. We laughed. We went to concerts that dated us as middle-aged parents or as teens and twenties. We heard revered Jews playing guitar at a Chabad shindig and we eased back listening to the music of the frum fellow who got the rights to sing Kabbalat Shabbot to Beatles’ melodies.
We gathered. Computer Cowboy and I used our time, as we regularly try to during the middle of Sukkot, the middle of Pesach, and the middle of Chanukah, to experience our children in ones and twos. He ferried certain of our gang to music stores, to book stores and to Gan Sacher. I had heart-to-heart talks about dating and marriage with our oldest, discussed writing with her sister, and took our two sons out for sushi.
The children, as well, enjoyed their extended hours with each other. One night, for instance, after Computer Cowboy and I had had some lovely “couple time,” but before we had returned to our home, we received a call. Ominously, one of our children queried, “how much longer will you be out?”
Ordinarily, such communications mean: “please pick something up for me that I needed for school, yesterday,” “my sibling’s antics are getting to the point where you are going to have one less child by the time you get here,” or “I wanted help with my homework two hours ago and now it’s going to be your fault when I fail to ace my test/project/paper/other.” This time, however, our offspring was telegraphing to us that he and his cohorts wanted us to stay away.
We ought to have suspected foul play. When Younger Dude called, not only did he convey no requests from himself or from his sisters and brother, but he suggested, as well, that Computer Cowboy and I head to Shemesh Fest, a drive that would have taken us about an hour, each way.
Having already filled our souls with plenty of live music, my husband and I chose, as an alternative, to engage in the rather “romantic” activity of the weekly grocery shop. Although we had no idea what out scion were up to, we suspected that they wanted us to lag a bit. Since we needed tomatoes, peppers, brown rice, and olive oil as well as a cart full of other items (holiday periods not being conducive to regular chores), anyway, it was with the aforementioned comestibles plus with sacks full of apples, of flour, of toothpaste and of tissues, that we encountered the crime scene some time later.
Given the hints that had been dropped, we ought not to have been surprised to have found paper shurikens, nunchakus made from toilet paper rolls and string, empty water bottles, and pillows scattered all over our salon floor, or to have found our sons and daughters, who had taken to the sanctuaries of their respective rooms, dressed in approximations of ninja and pirate gear. The confounding element was that our children range in age from thirteen to twenty.
Nonetheless, all remains well. The gravy stain on one of our sukkah’s walls was remedied, postholiday, with soap and water. The friend’s plate, broken in our home by accident, has since been replaced. The floors have been mopped and remopped (traffic almost always occurs after the floor is clean, but still wet), and the freezer is no longer in danger of shooting projectiles upon being opened.
As per the “war” between characters of decidedly different global periods and the mess left behind by those gallants, no lamps were broken, no heads cracked, and no dust bunnies escaped from under the furniture despite those kids’ fanciful form of “sibling bonding.” We are, however, still picking up paper shurikens. Perhaps we will find the last of them when we clean for Pesach.
What’s more, the let down, overall, from the holidays, B”H, for our family, will be gradual. Fortunately, during the next fortnight, we have: a wedding, two Bar Mitzvahs, and a visit from extended family. We will be easing down as we miss Sukkot and the Yamim Noraim.