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The Middle Holiday Syndrome

Recently, I read an article about how Chanukah has become “merchandised” and “Christmasized.” The blogger, Nina Badzin, describes Chanukah as a relatively to-the-point holiday where we eat potato pancakes and donuts, give presents, light the menorah, sing beautiful songs, and say some special prayers. In her article she expresses how she cherishes Chanukah. And she observes with some displeasure,  that these days, folks (mostly stores and businesses)  tend to over-sensationalize the holiday with extra decorations and fussy products,  as if to “compete” with Christmas.

I agree with Nina. I don’t like competition.  I – as a Jewish person and as a women — like to be myself, do my own thing, what I know and believe to be correct, and do it all as best as I can.

You see, I am a Middle Child. There’s my confession. Continue reading

Like Riding a Bicycle

I logged onto my email account one night last week, and found the following from my friend, Chani* (name changed to protect the guilty!), from out of state:

Chani: Hi there, Miriam! How are things? I”m babysitting for my 7-month old grand-daughter, and as I write this, she is screaming in the crib. I can’t get her to sleep. Any ideas? Thanks! Chani. P.S. Her parents don’t like it when she cries herself to sleep…

Me: Hi Chani! Why don’t you try holding her and cooing her to sleep? Or better yet, let her cry herself to sleep – after all, it’s your house, right? Oh whatever. I don’t like to give advice. I’m sure you will be fine. Continue reading

Out of the Mouths of Bubbies!

Ahhh…Grandmothers just say the most amazing things…don’t they (we?).

Bubby conversations. Or as I like to call them: Bubby Convo’s. Yes, whenever I talk to my friends, and especially my middle-aged (!) friends, many of whom are grandmothers, I learn so much from them. I am always surprised, impressed, excited, and enlightened when I hear a quotable quote from my friends who share my role as doting grandmother, but more so – insight-seeking grandmother.

And often that means that I have – you guessed it – more material for my blog, and other writing!

And so, I have decided to start something new: a collection of quotable quotes from my friends – those who have accumulated a great deal of life wisdom, and have come up with some great one liners.

Here is one:

From a 50-plus friend of mine – “I WANT TO DIE YOUNG AND GROW OLD”

How many of us bemoan the fact that we are growing older?

Well, what’s the alternative? (that was a rhetorical question – please don’t answer it).

Seriously, it’s a reminder to us that that growing old gracefully (whatever that means!) is our goal. With the help of G-d!

Another one:

From a 95 year old woman, very dear friend of our family, —spoken in convo to my husband and myself in a car ride home from a wedding –


How profound – another reminder to me – that “hey – I’m not the only one getting older! Everyone does too!! Get used to it, and try to relate…” (although it can be hard sometimes, as this wise woman recognized)

One more quote:

From a 50 plus friend of mine – as posted on her social media site online –


Gotta love her honesty.

And this one’s for you – my dear friend, Savta B, I followed your subsequent suggestion – that I blog about that quote! (without procrastinating? Huh?)

Stay tuned for more quotable quotes from the mouths of Bubbies, Savta’s and others……to be continued!

Warrior Woman

I had arrived at a huge event of the “Siyum Hashas” last week on Wednesday. My husband came home from work early, so we could leave at 3:30 for the program that began at 4:45 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Downtown Los Angeles. There was no traffic surprisingly, and we parked, ate our lunch in the courtyard, rented binoculars, and submitted our pre-purchased tickets to the uniformed doorman by 4:15 pm. We were ready to go into the theatre and the doors were still not opened.

No problem. We sat in the huge lobby and relaxed. I heard my cell phone beep, and noticed a text from my mother who lives in New York. Noticing that she had sent me a picture attachment, I opened it, expecting to see the counterpart Siyum that took place in the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Instead, to my alarm, was a photo of my mom in a hospital room. Her face was all bruised and bleeding. She had bandages on her forehead. My mom was sitting on what appeared to be a hospital bed, fully clothed. Her eyes were as  blue as ever, against her flushed face. Except for the black and blue marks all over her face, she didn’t look too bad. (I guess……). If not for her huge smile, I might have fainted. But I stayed strong.

I called my mom. She didn’t answer. I sat there – glued to the plush bench, feeling quite worried. Here I was  in the expansive lobby, waiting to enter a theatre and watch a momentous exhibit of Jewish men celebrating the completion of a 7 1/2 year Talmud learning goal, and my spunky mom just sent me a scary picture of herself. Continue reading

Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh

As the summer is under way,  my mind turns to letter writing. Letters that we send – to friends, family and acquaintances. Thank you cards, post-cards, congratulations messages, sympathy notes, and newsy letters to loved ones expressing caring and what is going on. The summer is that time – when we tend to write more letters. Kids are in camp, families go on vacation and the desire to keep up in writing is prevalent.

Letters these days are written (actually typed) and sent off as a computer email. Letters in the “old days” (read: my days) were written by hand with care, using a pen or pencil. They were  placed in an envelope, sealed and sent off with  a stamp. The receiver of the letter had the opportunity to read and re-read the letter, thus relishing the connection and the relationship between reader and writer.

Both of my grandmothers were avid letter writers. And during the summer they tended to write – or type (on their IBM Selectric typewriters!) more letters than usual.

One of my aunts has gathered all of my maternal grandmother’s letters – skillfully handwritten or typed with her typewriter — into a large binder for all the grandchildren. Many of those letters were written specifically during the summer period of the “Nine Days” (which is happening now) before the fast day of “Tisha B’av.” Continue reading

Mommy Wars? Maybe. Bubby Wars? Nope

Mommy Wars. Oy, those arguments, debates, competition!

Witness, for example, the endless “war” between a Stay-At-Home Mom and Work-out-of-home Mom:

SAHMom: “I think it is awful when mothers go out to work and leave their kid with a babysitter..”

WOHMom: “Well, I work out of the home, and my kids are just fine. The time that I do spend with them after work is relaxed and loving….which is more than I can say for some mothers I know who stay at home all day with their kids!”

Squabbles have arisen surrounding some of the various modes of parenting: attachment, co-sleeping, and natural parenting.  While proponents swear by these parenting techniques, critics worry that it will produce overly dependent children and parents who are “imprisoned” by their children. Continue reading

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