The girls and I spent most of Passover at my mother’s house in Baltimore, where we also visited with a wonderful woman whom I met through this blog. (She was already friendly with my mother from shul — it wasn’t as if I just showed up at the door of someone who clicked “like” a few times on a homsehuling facebook post.) While we were there, I too had a visitor – that dreaded green eyed monster….envy. Was it her gorgeous house? Her top of the line kitchen appliances? The way my daughters instantly fell madly in love with her? No, none of things. She had a closet full of clothes that once belonged to her grandmother, as well as outfits that she and her children had worn on special occasions. A closet full of memories. As my daughters donned and modeled, Project Runway style, every single garment, I was so deeply wishing that I had such a closet. I’m not a saver, my mom is not a saver, and presumably, her mother and her mother’s mother were not savers. I have held on to my wedding dress for the last seven (almost 8!) years, but my high school graduation dress? My first birthday dress? They were long ago recycled into what my girls call “handy-downs” or shlepped away in giant plastic bags by one charity or another, and I’ve unfortunately done the same with my own daughters things. I do remember seeing my mother’s wedding dress, my grandfather’s tefillin, and a gown my father wore as a baby when I was much, much younger….how I regret that I didn’t seize them for the children I had not yet even dreamed of, before someone decided it was time to empty another closet or shelf.
Perhaps the lack of actual artifacts has something to do with why I cling so furiously to many parts of Jewish tradition. I may not anything that belonged to my grandfathers, but I say the same words they did when I raise a glass of wine each Friday night. I may not be able to show my girls my bat mitzvah dress, but I will stand beside each of them, God willing, when they read for the Torah for the first time. (Not that I got to read from the Torah, but that’s a different post altogether.)
Still, I like stuff. At their Simcaht Bat celebrations, my mother gave each of my daughters one of the few relics she has from her beloved Bubbe’s shabbat table. We use her silver ladle and her brass candlesticks almost every Friday night, and they may be my most prized posessions. And on this trip to Baltimore, my mother passed on my Nana’s china to me. It’s so, so, so not my taste. And I LOVE it. I think we will eat fleishigs every single Friday night forever, just so my table can always look like this (even down to the incorrectly positioned flatware). And someday, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to sit at a table with these dishes, and that ladle, and those candlesticks, and watch my own daughters and grandchildren make shabbat.