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Memories of childhood thanksgivings

12/03/2018 11:52:58 AM

Dec3

Growing up, my mother was the best driver I knew. We were carried from place to place seamlessly. Then, when I began to drive, I realized the horrible, God-awful, truth: that my mother’s driving skills did not exactly “live up” to her superb mothering skills. As children we were oblivious to her machinations; but as a driving adult sitting in the passenger seat I  constantly felt my right foot pushing for the brake that was never there.

I find that our memories of childhood Thanksgivings, like our parents, are also somewhat idyllic. Childhood Thanksgivings are largely about the fun times we spend with our family, football games, and eating pumpkin pie. Only as adults, do we come to realize that as children we were shielded from complications and drama that inevitably ensue when families come together.

There is a great little irony contained in the title of this week’s Torah portion, entitled Vayeshev, which means “to be settled.” As we read the Torah portion, that we are at the pinnacle of Jacob’s family drama. Joseph is sold into slavery. Despite the title, there is nothing “settled” about Jacob, Joseph, or anyone else this week.

Therefore, reflecting on the holiday season in which we find ourselves, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps what the Torah is trying to teach us here is that being “settled” probably doesn’t mean what most of us think it does. When we think of “settled,” most of us think of living a stress-free, Hakuna Matata lifestyle.

Unfortunately, only children live in this kind of Eden. For adults, we soon realize that being settled is always a relative proposition. As a wise congregant reminded me this past week, if the entire world could throw their troubles into a bucket and you were invited to take out someone else’s, you would pull out your own in instant. Because having disorder in our lives shouldn’t preclude us from also finding a sense of peace.

My humble suggestion: embrace the chaos. Enjoy the Latkes. And someday, remember that you will laugh when you hear of your children recalling their “perfect Thanksgiving” while watching their hands stuffed up the back of a Turkey.

Tue, March 19 2019 12 Adar II 5779