Saturday, May 4, 2019

R2BC - The Pesach Edition

Place names for Seder night. 
We went to London for Pesach. I try to keep our travel plans off social media until we've returned home but it doesn't usually work very well. Anyway, lots of reasons 2B cheerful from our holiday. And lots more R2BC from other bloggers over at Becky's Lakes Single Mum.

Seder Night
We have two of them. Both a lot of fun. DD was in charge of making the place names for the table. The photo shows what she made for the first night. Thanks to my friend Janet for the idea - hieroglyphics for the exodus from Egypt. The first activity of the evening was to work out who was who. It's actually quite easy when you know which names you're looking for. We kept ours for bookmarks.

Chihuly at Kew Gardens
The Best Day Out! Thanks for taking us Doreen. This will get its own blog post so no photos on this one.

After years of refusing to wear anything but sweat pants, leggings or shorts with a t-shirt, DD surprised us all at our semi-annual trip to Primark and H&M. "I think I need to change my style," she announced. She then started picking out pretty summer jump suits with delicate shoulder straps and frilly off the shoulder 'sleeves'. I steered her away from the less practical ensembles. I am not about to iron frills although my iron may have to come out after 10 years in the cupboard. And we live in the Middle East so protected shoulders are a must in the summer. Still, it was so much more fun to buy a range of pretty clothes for her.

Fit Flops and Skechers
I always wanted Fit Flops. When they first came out my mother asked me what gift she could bring when she came to stay. I asked for Fit Flops and she brought me a pair of flip flops. Soon after, my sister asked me what I wanted as a birthday present and I asked for Fit Flops (I didn't realize the price at that time). Then she forgot about it and I didn't like to remind her (or maybe she already knew the price). I finally bought myself a pair - years ago, but I made the mistake of buying the ones without the thong. I thought the thong would be uncomfortable for every day. Stupid me. The other kind only came in dowdy designs. They were comfortable and I wore them to death but I didn't love them. After that I discovered an Israeli make that I wore for years (Ben Ami) but they're now more expensive than Fit Flops. So I finally bought my thonged Fit Flops in John Lewis and I love them.

I also discovered Skechers sports shoes. Thanks Marilyn for the recommendation. I'm never going back to other trainers and neither is DD.

Family Wedding
My brother got engaged. He's been with his fiancee for over three years so she's already a part of the family. And so we thought it could continue forever. They surprised us all by getting engaged and we're now waiting to hear when the wedding will be. Mazal Tov Michael and Alyson! xxx

Friday, May 3, 2019

Holiday Guilt

Sunburst from the Chihuly exebition at Kew Gardens
Believe me, it's a thing. It starts before the holiday with things to get done before we leave. Be up to date with work commitments (prep and grading), paperwork (taxes, paying bills, filing, etc...) and cleaning the apartment. The time gets shorter and shorter and we leave for our holiday with work unfinished, paperwork in a pile on the desk, and a whisk round the apartment with a lick and a promise. I should have managed my time more efficiently.

There is also the social media dilemma. I don't want to announce, even in emails, that we will be away for two weeks and thereby implying that the apartment will be empty. Of course I could mention my sumo-wrestler cousin who will be house-sitting with his two mastiffs, but that's like protesting too much - a transparent ruse. So I keep quiet and feel terribly guilty that I'm going to disappear from the blog and people might worry that I've been run over by a bus, or worse, lost interest in writing. Thank you Margie from Toronto, for your concern. I do appreciate it under my guilt. And sorry, sorry, sorry.

The truth will out of course and friends write on facebook, "will you be in London for Passover?" I try to ignore these questions but I feel guilty.

And then my friend's mother suggests we meet for coffee over the festival and I would love to see her. I was the recipient of her hospitality, kindness and wisdom as a teenager and it would be fabulous to catch up. I PM her that I'll call her daughter when I get to London. And other friends whom I'd also love to see, message me and I get all future President of America and I cannot tell a lie. But I arrive in London and I don't call them because I remember that I have a 10 year daughter who doesn't want to catch up with all my old friends over coffee and also doesn't want to spend her whole holiday playing on Gandma's computer while I'm doing said catching up. It's a sad situation - guilty if I do and guilty that I don't.

I get lazy about blogging sometimes but I vary rarely miss a Reasons 2B Cheerful post. A week before the holiday I wrote on twitter to the regular contributing bloggers, that I'm sorry I'm always late with mine but I don't usually have time to get to it before Saturday. A couple of the others also said they preferred Saturday and so it was decided to change the R2BC day to Saturday. Then I disappeared for two weeks without telling anyone even though the move to Saturday was mainly because of me. Guilty.

Whilst in London we went with my cousin to see the Chihuly exhibition in Kew Gardens. It was absolutely stunning and deserves its own blog post. Later that day my cousin posted her photos on facebook and tagged me. I accepted the tag without thinking of the consequences and the cat was out of the bag. "Oh, I see you're in London," wrote Mich from Mummy from the Heart (one of the two R2BC hosts). "I wondered where you were?" Sorry, sorry, sorry, I should have told you.

Of course I did intend to write some location neutral blog posts while I was away but with limited computer access and the fact that it's much more fun playing kalooky and watching endless recorded episodes of Escape to the Country until 1 am and then getting up too late to accomplish anything in the mornings, I didn't blog. Moving back into my mother's house brings with it a certain amount of teenage behaviour and the associated guilt about wasting all that time.

About wasting time. We love being in London. We love the weather, we love the parks, we love the supermarkets, we love the tv, and we love shopping in Watford. We also love a day in London proper (as opposed to the suburbs where we live) and other outings like Kew Gardens, Legoland, the theatre, etc... But we don't have a driving urge to visit loads of museums and monuments, or even to be out and about every day. This holiday involved celebrating Passover which revolved around delicious meals at my sister's house with all the cousins and other guests (including two Seder nights), and a lot of going round to people's houses for tea, coffee, or a light supper. We're a bit grounded as we don't eat out at all during the eight days of the festival. But we're in London! Just visiting for a short time! I feel so ungrateful and lazy that we don't make the most of all that culture and entertainment on our doorstep for a short time only. But we don't. This is why I will probably never be a travel writer and another source of guilt.

We travel home on the early morning flight from Luton that requires getting up at 3 am on Sunday to go to the airport. I don't bother going to sleep the night before. We get home at about 5 pm because we're just in time to hit the rush hour as we enter Jerusalem. I then have to go out to the little supermarket around the corner because we've no food in the house. I make some supper for DD, tell her to put her dishes in the sink when she's finished and to turn off all the lights when she goes to bed. I go to bed at 7 pm and leave her to it. She hates it when I do that. Guilty.

I wake up at 11 pm with a dehydration headache. I take a paracetamol, drink coffee, and then drink a large green tea because the coffee didn't seem to work. I can't sleep. I read until 3.30 am, sleep for 3 1/2 hours and turn up for my first day of school exhausted and, actually, late. Guilty.

That night I fall into bed at 7 pm again. Now I've done this to DD two nights in a row. Guilty. I ignore the phone when it rings at about 10.30 so my mum doesn't get to tell me that my brother is engaged. I read it on facebook the next morning. Guilty. I still haven't unpacked and it's now Tuesday. But I have four hours of teaching at college on Tuesday afternoon so I need to prepare those lessons rather than unpack. Guilty. On Wednesday I after school I should have graded all the papers that came in from online courses over the holiday. But it's Holocaust Memorial Day and I want it to be meaningful so I make DD watch a movie about Anne Frank with me. Then I tell her that it's not appropriate to play on the computer or watch You Tube on this night so we both go to bed. On Thursday after school DD has gymnastics until 7.15 pm. We get home at 7.30 and there are three weeks' worth of emails to deal with so no grading tonight. Guilty. Today is Friday and I have to do some grading before Shabbat comes in as we don't work tomorrow. But I will unpack tomorrow - only six days after we came home. Guilty again.

Such a little word yet it generates so much anxiety.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Memorial Day)

This evening, because we start our days from sunset, marked the beginning of Yom Hashoah - Holocaust Memorial Day. Everyone lights a memorial candle that lasts for 25 hours. Many people, including us, light in memory of a specific person who perished. DD and I lit our candles in memory of Judit Rajhman and Hanna Schenbron, both aged 6, both murdered in Auschwitz in 1944.

Hanna and Judit would have been 81 now, if they were still alive. Who would their children have been? Where would their grandchildren be living now? How many children would they have had? How many grandchildren? Maybe they would have had careers? Maybe one would have been a doctor and the other a writer? Maybe it would have been the other way round and the other would have been the doctor? It's almost certain that they didn't know each other aged 6 but maybe they would have met later in life and become friends, or colleagues, or even sisters-in-law?

So many questions without answers. So many children who never got to live their full lives (estimated at 1.5 million, most of them Jewish). And their baby brothers and sisters, and their big brothers and sisters and cousins, and young adults, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, classmates, the children next door, the man from the grocery shop who always made jokes, the teacher who gave too much homework, the scary dentist and the kind doctor. And all these people's families and friends until you add up 6 million lives .... stopped. Quashed. Murdered. Gassed.

DD and I watched a film about Anne Frank and I told her how Otto Frank was the only one to survive and how he came back and Miep had saved Anne's diary. Then I told her how he went to live in Switzerland and he married another survivor, Elfriede (Fritzi) Geiringer, who had a daughter called Eva (The author Eva Schloss). Fritzi and her family had lived in the same street as Anne Frank in Amsterdam and Eva and Anne, born only a month apart, had been friends. The Geiringers also went into hiding and were also betrayed. They were sent to Auschwitz. Erich Geiringer and their 19 year old son, Heinz did not survive. After the war Eva went to live in London. In Stanmore in fact, where we also lived. "And Grandma knew her, and her daughter, Sylvia, went to my school. She was in the year above me, Anne Frank's step-niece whom she never met."

DD understood. Real people survived and we know their grandchildren and, now, great-grandchildren. Real people perished and we have to remember them because they didn't get to have children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.