First of all, I want to say happy Hanukkah to all of those celebrating it this week and, as always, #HappyMonday, too! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!
Whether you say “Shalom” or “Noel” – both words mean “Peace”. It’s the season of love, hope and understanding! We are all different, yet so alike, and that’s okay. Cheerish it! Embrace it! Own it! Celebrate diversity! ‘Let there be peace on Earth…’ and let it begin with each and every one of us!
‘Every year at this time, we put our very best wishes together with some warm & worthy thoughts, and send them off to you, wrapped in sincere affection and the dearest hopes that this coming year gives you all you expect and derive from it.’ – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Quarterly Winter 94/95.
My grandma (Mom’s mom) was raised in the Jewish faith. She converted to Christian Science when she married my grandpa. When the holidays came around, both sides of my grandparents’ families gathered together and both holidays, Hanukkah and Christmas, were respectfully observed and celebrated in unison.
The focus was on their commonalities. Both are celebrated with love and food! Love is the universal “reason for the season” for everyone. Why can’t we all just get along and respect that we are all different? Being different, with various beliefs and traditions is okay!
Mom wrote a story about her mom’s side of the family, the Klein’s, in her self-published book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop! (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 83-84). Below is an abbreviated version of Mom’s story about her mom’s Jewish family heritage, as I wrote in my blog post, It’s All Relative (April 15, 2019).
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop!
(Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 83-84)
…MY MOTHER’S PARENTS were originally German, but they were also Jews, and living in Russia at the turn of the [20th] century. It was dangerous for any Jew in Russia at that time – so much like the story of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’; my grandparents, with two small children and my grandmother expecting their third child, took a crowded freighter to America [around 1906].
They couldn’t speak a word of English and had nothing with them but what they could carry by hand. On the way over, unfortunately, they came down with what was suspected to be TB [Tuberculosis]… years later [around 1917], following the birth of their 7th child, TB finally took my grandmother.
Having settled in Pittsburg, my grandfather moved on to Cleveland where he hoped to find relatives who would help him with a job and a place to raise the motherless children. It didn’t work out as he expected, however. The relatives were not where he had last contacted them.
The orphanage was over-crowded that he had been directed to, in order to leave the children and seek treatment for the TB that seemed to be getting worse for him. Having been turned away by the orphanage, he was about to leave all the children on a street corner, telling them that somebody would come along to help them, but that he had to get his train to the sanitorium that the government was sending him to for help.
At that point, the nuns were passing by on their usual afternoon walk…on their way back to the Catholic orphanage down the street. They stopped long enough to ask if they could be of help and, upon hearing the story from the older children, who spoke English, and [from my] Grandpa’s broken English, they concluded that the children needed to be cared for.
They took the children to the Catholic orphanage, ensuring my grandfather that they would see to it that they went to Temple every Saturday, even though they would be in the Catholic schools and living in the dormitories with the other children.
When there was room for them at the Jewish orphanage, they would then be transferred – and the promise was kept. There, they all remained until each one turned 16 years of age… The compassion of those Catholic nuns and the care they gave the children of that Jewish immigrant, when Jews were hated as much as they ever were in this country, kept me from ever harboring feelings of prejudice toward other people due to their religious or racial backgrounds…
‘The celebration of the moments worth remembering continues to have its place.’ – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Quarterly (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Winter 1994/95).
Like Mom and Grandma, I was raised to appreciate everyone, without prejudice – keeping an open mind to all of us being different and yet the same AND that it’s okay. I brought my own children up in the same manner – to not discriminate and to respect others’ beliefs.
I found a wonderful statement about this in an article called How to Appreciate Diversity During the Holidays, by Simma Lieberman (updated April 4,2019). She wrote: “Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is about using the holiday celebration time with friends and family to build understanding and awareness of the traditions and beliefs of others.”
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, pp. 4-5)
BREAKING THROUGH THE BARRIERS
BREAKING THROUGH THE BARRIERS of tradition, we find a spirited acceptance of new family values. Occasions have replaced celebrations. Getting together has been replaced by BEING together! Good food, comfortable conversation [and] warm hospitality have become more important to the family circle than reverence without reason, tolerance without tact, relatives without relationships!
The lovely part about Christmas for us, was always being together – with our friends, our good and dear neighbors and our relatives; in a series of activities that began with Thanksgiving and tapered off around the new year. It was hectic, but it was also many happy reunions, mixed well with spontaneous visitations that, had they been a part of the ordinary activities of the rest of the year, would not mean so much now!
The food was simple, but ample. The food, I feel, should never be more important than the guests for whom it is prepared…All of these preparations are a part of Christmas – but not the important part. The tokens only represent the real meaning – that of loving, of letting go of old grudges, of forgetting past hurts, of looking for something good (even though you don’t see it – until you do!)
LOVE, most philosophers conclude, is the highest level of thought. It is the logic of the heart. And no other season of the calendar year seems to reflect more of this feeling…
We reach out to others – and want them, in turn, to respond to us. Some of us do it with gifts that we buy or make and some of us do it with social gestures of food and hospitality. While all of these traditions are renewed at this particular time of the year, the critics complain and the cynics look for reasons to begrudge us the pleasure of LOVING the season, renewing the fellowship of it – with family, friends and neighbors.
But that’s not unusual and we shouldn’t be surprised by the criticisms that try to take some of the joy out of the holiday traditions we follow – or create for ourselves. There are always critics, unfortunately, for those occasions in our lives when we wish to be glad about something…
So, on with the celebration – whether we choose to keep it quietly in our own personal fashion of religious customs, or whether we choose to make it festive and pronounced with the traditions of gifts and food. The point is, we are celebrating the season of hope… It’s a time for LOVING – for expressing it [and] for offering it to others! How can something like that not be good!
Our own traditions have not been very elaborate in our family, during the…season; but the things we have always done to make the holiday more enjoyable, brought us pleasure. So, we have continued with them. Whether you choose to follow traditions or to create some of your own, the underlying meaning is still there to express joy and LOVE – that incredible, curious logic of the heart!
I want to recommend another wonderful article about Hanukkah at https://www.chabad.org/holidays/chanukah/article_cdo/aid/102911/jewish/What-Is-Hanukkah.htm. Check it out!
In honor of Thursday, being National Date Nut Bread Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Date Nut Bread, Like Devon Gables; as first seen in Mom’s self-published cookbook… The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 42).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
December observes, among other things… National Pear Month, National Write A Business Plan Month, National Operation Santa Paws (which runs the 1st-24th), National Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, National Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!
Tomorrow is… National Sangria Day!
Wednesday, December 21st is… National Crossword Puzzle Day, National Humbug Day, National Maine Day, National French Fried Shrimp Day, Winter Solstice (which is usually on or near the 21st) and Yule (which is always on the day of the Winter Solstice)! In honor of National French Fried Shrimp Day, here’s a 3-in-1 re-share!
December 22nd is… National Forefathers Day (which is always on the 22nd, unless it’s a Sunday, then it’s on the following Monday)! Plus, as the Thursday before Christmas, it’s also… National Re-Gifting Day! [22nd for 2022]
Saturday, December 24th is… National Eggnog Day and Christmas Eve! [It’s also the 46th anniversary of Mom’s at-home interview with Jack McCarthy of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7, Detroit.] In honor of the afore mentioned, here’s another re-share for you.
…51 down and only 1 more to go, for 2022!