Tuesday, November 14, 2006

sabbatical salutations

Last weekend was The Grandparental Marathon.

(Editor's note: I promise a post soon about the jargon in the comments on navels and the Judaic laws of family purity. One is in the works. For now, sabbatical grandparents.)

To everyone's surprise, including my therapist's, it went extremely well. Nonetheless, it was a bit marathonish, and I regard it as pre-Thanksgiving training. (pause while my shoulders are rubbed with a precise degree of gentle and firm by the Man. ???? ah.)

Thank you for reading this blog. This blogger apperciates your readership. We will return to blogging shortly after this, ah, break.

Damnit. The toddles woke up.

Right, then, where was I? Oh, yes.

One of the best bits about the weekend, aside from the checkers lessons and mania that followed it, was Friday night. The Man and I are continually thinking and rethinking our religious observance, and the more obvious aspects of it, such as what do we do on the sabbath. While in the midst of considering a pluralist Jewish school, this conversation has taken on a sharper urgency. And this weekend, of course, we had an audience, one whose observance seems to be more strict that our own, a member of a family who has occasionally asked nervous questions as to our religious choices, even going so far as to expressing concerns. My family, alas.

Imagine this: at the end of the week, we drag our sorry tushies out of bed in the wee early hours of Friday, the Man to zip off to work, me to take the Eldest to school, run to the grocery store one last time, before handing the Toddles over to Mary Jr, while I cook everything we'll eat until dark Saturday night. I have until sunset, which right now is about 4 freaking p.m. It's a gallop, folks, no trotters allowed. By sunset, all is ready: the food is cooked, the family assembled, and the Man and I are hopefully showered. Hopefully.

And wiped from a long, long week. Without sounding defensive, have I mentioned that the Toddles does not sleep through the night? Sigh. Dog tired, drained dry, ready to use putting the boys to bed as an excuse to fall asleep and not do the dishes tired.

In general shabbat for young families is an evolving target. The baby might be having the evening howl during Friday night dinner, or needs to nap halfway through shabbat lunch. After a while, juggling the miserable child, you realize that he doesn't care about your ritual, and just wants to be tended to. And he has the lung capacity to make a fairly compelling argument. So you adapt. For years, when the Eldest was too young to participate or understand, this was our excuse for rushing the sabbath rituals, lighting a pair of tealights, tossing back some quick grape juice and challah, and ritually falling asleep before grace after meals.

Ah, the things one can get away with when one's children are young! Now that the Eldest is older, we make an effort. Shabbat is a good one to start with, as most of the other holidays are variations on the theme. And on Friday night, the Grandmere got to watch us do it. Our way.

We don't have elaborate sabbath meals when we're on our own, we have quick, kid-friendly ones, preferring instead to throw the kids' limited zitsfleisch into singing and talking. We sang part of the Friday night service, the Eldest made the blessing over the bread (pseudo bread doesn't rate a real, adult blessing), and we sang zmirot, songs of praise specific to the sabbath. And, of course, grace (in Hebrew, natch), sung with emphasis on the rhyming bits and with as much table thumping as we can muster.

The zmirot have a range of tunes, and we like the bouncy ones, to keep the kidlings interested - they can beat out the rhythm, even before they learn the words. We sang one to a tune that we call the Drinking Song, and had so much fun that we had to get up and dance.

So there we were. Tired, not terribly clean and dancing, each parent with a boy in the arm, singing and celebrating our day of rest.

That shabbat, the Grandmere fell in love with the boys all over again. And clapped along as we danced. Today during lunch, however, a carelessly left on baby monitor gave us orchestra seats to the Eldest's concert performance...in the bathroom. Delighted, we listened as he sang Grace - until, He's pooping all over the religion! said the Man. Floosh went the toilet. And we dissolved into silent giggles.

No Way Can It Be...Tortillas!
makes 4
This recipe is courtesy of the Allergy Self-Help Cookbook, by Marjorie Hurt Jones, and the indefatigable MIL, who lent me the book. This is a rather uneven cookbook, but this recipe is a winner. It may replace my much mourned pita recipe, which is saying something.

1 cup barley/brown rice/buckwheat flour (for more options, see below)
1/2 tsp salt
(I added a bit of freshly ground black pepper)
1/2 c. water

Mix dry ingredients, then add water. Dough should be damp but not sticky - if necessary, add an extra, cautious tablespoonful of water. More if necessary. Dough will likely form a ball as you stir, or you can use the Kitchenaid cake mixer, as I did. Easy peasy.

Roll bits of dough into golf ball sized balls. Flatten until 1/4 inch thick (or use a tortilla maker for absolute simplicity). Heat a griddle, (I sprayed my ancient, no-longer non-stick griddle with high-heat sunflower oil spray) cook 3 minutes on each side.

Cool on a rack. Eat as soon as it won't burn your mouth. Delicious!

Flour options: replace he above 1 cup of flour with any of these flours. 1 c. oat/rye/teff, or 1.25 c amaranth/spelt, or 1.25 quinoa + 1/3rd c tapioca starch flour.


dykewife said...

wow! that sounds like a wonderful way of introducing your spirituality and religion to children. :) for us it was samhain (hallowe'en) and the annual going out and begging for candy, but before that it was creating the ancestor plate and inviting those loved ones (or respected ones) to our table and home to celebrate. it's a day of remembering those who went before and helping boy with remember family history and family links.

mama o' the matrices said...

I happen to think that religion's great strength is to tie us to our families, whether biological or chosen, and our community.

The best bit, though, is when we reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones. Do it with candy and orange gourds, do it with a new moon circle or some sort of sabbath, and it's a good, good thing in any fashion.

And of course, do it with food!

mother in israel said...

My husband doesn't work Fridays. heh. On the other hand, I'm cooking for eight, two of whom are teenage boys. At least we have no allergies, just some aversions.

Anonymous said...

Pre-thanksgiving training...liked that phrase...LOL

Have a wonderful week! :-)