Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

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How My Mom, Sisters and I Had our Great Experience

My husband and I never travel to exotic places and we’re pretty much okay with it. We have thank G-d a lovely climate here in Southern California where the sun shines pretty much on most days and where we get to complain when it’s 50 degrees how freezing it is. Our idea of a good vacation is a drive to the San Diego Zoo or Laguna Beach.  Even Disneyland is out of the question as the prices have become astronomical (sorry, Disneyland).

But all that aside, it has been my dream to go to Israel for like forever. I had been there as a child with my parents, then as a high school graduate with my friends and 22 years later with my husband.

I’ve wanted to have what’s called a “chavaya” – a memorable experience in Israel that is imprinted on my mind. I wanted to really feel like I lived there – even for just a few days, not in a hotel or motel, but in an apartment with friends or family.

I wanted to go to the Holy places such as the Western Wall to pray. I yearned to pray at the graves of our matriarchs such as Rachel’s Tomb  and the Cave of the Patriarchs or Me’arat HaMachpeilah.

I wanted to visit our youngest son who is there now in Israel and to experience the new and modern country that I’ve heard from friends that Israel has developed into since I’ve been there over a decade ago. In fact, the only time we went together in all our married years was when our older son was there for yeshiva and we went to visit him. I still remember that trip because it was several months after 9/11, tickets were cheap and the entire country was devoid of tourists.

Still, I longed and pined for that next honeymoon with my husband but figured it wasn’t going to happen very soon. I was content with the amazing mini-vacations to San Diego and Laguna and the great theme park of Knotts Berry Farm (sorry, Disneyland; Knott’s is more affordable). And we are fortunate to go  the East Coast for nieces’ and nephews’ weddings, for family events and so forth. And even though we miss many such family events, I feel blessed to be able to go to the ones that I do.

It’s all good. One of the many lessons I’ve learned (and tried to practice) over the years is  to have gratitude for the good in my life  and to keep my expectations realistic. Dreaming and longing is nice but when we have high expectations that are over our budget or lifestyle, we set ourselves up for disappointment.

So I put the dream out of my mind.  I told my husband when we win the lottery or win one of those many raffle tickets we put in $18 for to win that elusive “trip for 2 to Israel”,  we will get to go.  That and also if  he gains more vacation days at his workplace (right now all his yearly vacation is used for Jewish Holiday breaks),  and we have enough to spend on a hotel and a few tourist attractions….we will go somewhere. If all that’s in place, we will fulfill our wish list of travel.  Israel was at the top of that list followed closely by Alaska in the summer (to see the midnight sun – my husband’s dream).

Then last month we traveled to NY from LA for our niece’s wedding.

At the wedding I was schmoozing with one of my sisters when she told me that our mother was asking to visit Israel this winter and this sister wanted to take her there. As this sister and another are the ones who live closest to our mom, they had heard my mom expressing a longing to visit the Holy Land and see her cousins whom she hadn’t seen in over ten years. Additionally, since my father passed away, our mom hasn’t traveled much and she felt lonely and an eagerness to go somewhere special. To see and pray at the Holy places and  to visit with family and friends who lived there.

That’s when I blurted out, “Oh, that’s so nice. I want to come along!” I didn’t think of the cost or the time off from work and how that would be possible. I just had this sudden urge to go with my mom and sisters. For some reason, I disregarded any of the kinks that would have to be worked out such as leaving my husband behind.

And suddenly money became irrelevant as my husband and I talked it over and his remark was that this was a trip of a lifetime and we would make it work. (Even if we had to work Sundays and evenings and extra hours for the next few weeks.)

Within a day, I had a ticket to Israel for three weeks later,  found my recently renewed (whew!) passport in the place where we keep them,  my husband’s blessings and encouragement, my three sisters including the one who initiated it coming along, and my mother extremely excited that her four daughters would be traveling with her to Israel. Oh, and our spouses, our brothers and their wives were not invited, thank you. This was an all-girls event.

For the next few weeks we went back and forth with plans for the Big Trip. The anticipation was so much fun. From the beginning our goal was to make my mom happy and that we were doing this for our mom. That meant that we would fill our days with activities that my mom could do. Since she is thank G-d in her late 80’s (may she live till 120) and doesn’t walk as fast as she used to, activities such as climbing Masada and touring the North or South of the country were out.

The trip lasted 9 days of which we were in Israel for just under 6 days. But no worries. We knew were going to have a blast breathing the air of Jerusalem and other places we went and just being with each other.

A day before we left to Israel we found out that El Al airlines was on strike and we had to quickly scramble with the airline to get a refund and buy new tickets with a stopover. Still, we were thrilled that we were able to work it out. Never mind that our trip was cut short by about 12 hours since we had to make do with whatever return tickets we could get on the new airline. Never mind that I had to quickly get on a plane that night (a day early) to NY to meet my sisters and mom at the airport for the new flight outbound. And never mind that I had to pay extra for that quickly made flight.

Nothing mattered because we were going to be traveling together and having  a blast on the trip of a lifetime.

And as we took off on that Monday evening on the plane, the only regrets I had were  for the flight attendants on Brussels Air who had to put up with our constant standing up and loud talking. Our passing diet food brought with us to each other. Our laughing and giggling and loud playing of word games  (word mix is a great one by the way!) on the screen.

Still I had so much to be grateful for: First, I had a husband that was fine (thrilled) with my getting away for a week (oops 9 days including travel). Second, my adult kids were thrilled for me and their grandmother and aunts. And finally, this was an easy trip to plan for since I wasn’t leaving any carpools, babies, school schedules and play dates for someone else to worry about. In fact, the only baby I was leaving in the care of my husband was my new kitchen. He had strict instructions written down how to care of the various appliances.

One of the things I’ve learned as mother-in-law and grandmother and in general a middle aged person is to have lower expectations of events and happenings.  That philosophy ends up being quite freeing. It’s a way of letting go and allowing things in life to evolve the way they will. It means letting other people including friends, relatives and our children be who they are. It means  allowing our married couples to make their own decisions without us offering unsolicited advice. It means doing the best we can do in situations using our skills without beating ourselves up when we make mistakes.

And when we do all that, we can free ourselves to let in all the fun and laughter and just enjoy the ride . (and lots of city walking too!)

Visiting one of the holy places

 

 

 


Playing the Name Game

newbaby1

 

Yesterday at the bris of  our grandson, after the mohel performed the ritual circumcision, we heard the name  announced.

The naming of Jewish babies is performed at the bris which is on the 8th day of the baby’s life.

Our son and dil named their child after my father-in-law.

One of the first decisions parents make when they have a child is the name. For each of our children, we made that decision, and now it was our own children’s turns. The parents decide what to name the child, put it on the birth certificate and keep it secret ( barring some leaking and hinting) from everyone else until the naming at the Bris.

But throughout that time, there is sometimes  a temptation for the grandparents (that would be me!) , i.e. the  parents of the adult children (me again!!)  to drop hints with opinions about what they think the name should be. Ahem! Obviously, this kind of commenting can add to the tension that is already in place when a new baby is born.

Me, I may have a big mouth regarding many topics, but regarding in-laws and names, I have to say I’m  pretty cool about it.  My motto has been for the past seven years since I became a Grandmother (can’t believe my oldest grandson is already in 2nd grade!)  and mother-in-law (to 3 wonderful young ladies)  is to refrain from interfering – especially regarding names (and plenty other things too!)

I TRY REAL HARD TO KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT

Truthfully, I believe that it is really none of my business to mix in to this decision. That’s one fo the many things I talk about on my blog and on my in-law website. I also discuss in-law relationship topics in my Grandmother book, which was published two years ago.  This kind of self-control is  all part and parcel of dealing with children-in-law in a positive manner.

So when our children had another baby boy last week, I tossed aside my expectations.

In our Jewish tradition, we often name after a family members. While Sephardic families name after the living, we, as Ashkenazik Jews have the custom of naming after the deceased.

Some background:

You see, my husband’s father had passed away almost 14 years ago, and none of our 4 other grandsons, ages 2 through 7 – has his name. One of my daughters’in-law’s own father has the same name as my father-in-law, so they consider it superstitious to use a name when her own father is still alive and well. And my other daughter-in-law named her first two children after her own grandfather and father, who recently died.

Come on, it’s been 14 years. I wanted my husband to have the pleasure of a little guy named for his father.

And at the rate we were going with boys in our family, I figured the next one will get my father’s name. So I could see both sides of the coin. On the one hand, it would be nice to have the little guy named after my dad. But on the other hand, I could understand the need to honor my father-in-law’s name.

So…when they named the baby today and called out his name, I thought:  How apropos!

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE

All we want is Shalom - Peace!

All we want is Shalom – Peace!

 

Me? The one who preaches about being a nice mother-in-law? No way.  I understood. To me, the peace and love in a family that understands and respects the adult children’s decisions is more importatnt than what name is chosen.

I consider myself blessed to have children who thought things through  about what would be the most correct thing to do. They wanted to do something that would provide me comfort soon after my father’s passing, but yet they wanted to honor my father-in-law’s memory as well.

In the end, they chose well.

They chose the name that was meaningful for my mother-in-law who is still going strong at 94, and for my mother, who gave her blessing to them to do what they felt comfortable doing. (as my mom said, “My husband was one to give in to others, so it’s fitting that this was the choice…”)

I only hope the peace in our family will spread to peace in the world. We REALLY  need it.

Photos – courtesy of Publicdomainpics.net


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