Sweet Kugel and Creepy Crawlers

When I was a kid, I loved my mom’s sweet kugel, and the smell of roasting brisket.  I liked to sit on the piano bench at the kids’ table with Mindy, although sometimes she would end up under the table with Laddy, pretending to be a dog or a gerbil. I loved the snug feeling of being surrounded by my aunts, uncles and cousins. 

After dinner, we would make treasures.  Aunt Julie’s basement was our laboratory, and cousin Scott was head scientist.  We would make green, red and yellow rubber lizards, bats and bugs.  I loved peeling them out of their cooling metal molds and squishing them between my fingers.  At home, they would live in a saltwater taffy barrel from Atlantic City.

These memories, along with Sweetheart sitting in the red plush chair, Uncle Sheik watching Bullwinkle on the sun porch, and playing the nuts game after dinner by the living room step, are what I loved about Rosh Hashanah.  To me, the Jewish holidays were about being with my family.

I dreaded going to services.  I didn’t know how to contain the boredom. Holiday services felt like they lasted for weeks. I remember Donna and I trying on each others jewelry in the back of the sanctuary to pass the time, and I remember turning the prayer book pages one at a time, from beginning to end, ever so slowly, to try and move the clock along.  Services felt like long, hard, boring homework.

That young me would be shocked to learn that I am the cantorial singer at High Holiday services now.  She would be amazed that I finally learned how to read Hebrew.  She wouldn’t believe that I find the music haunting and beautiful, and that the holiday melodies transport me to a place inside myself that feels more like treasure than those old basement Creepy Crawlers.   

It feels good to go back and visit the old days.  All of my aunts and uncles are gone now, along with some of my cousins and my dad.  I will always carry them with me, and I will feel them here as I turn the pages of the prayer book, and as I taste the cinnamon and raisins in my mom’s sweet kugel.

I wish you all a sweet and meaningful new year.  May it be filled with laughter, loved ones and unexpected treasure. 

8 comments

  • Neal Heart

    Neal Heart

    good blog

    good blog

  • Denise

    Denise

    Thanks Neal.

    Thanks Neal.

  • alisa

    alisa

    Happy Rosh Hashanah, Denise! May the new year reward you with all the goodness and happiness your generous spirit so richly deserves. Love you! :)

    Happy Rosh Hashanah, Denise! May the new year reward you with all the goodness and happiness your generous spirit so richly deserves. Love you! smile

  • Sunny

    Sunny

    Today's blog took me home in my heart to my childhood I tasted the brisket and felt the love as you stirred up these memories in my heart. And, I needed these warmths (made up word) at the exact time I read your blog. So, thank you for tending to me with your beauty.

    Today's blog took me home in my heart to my childhood I tasted the brisket and felt the love as you stirred up these memories in my heart.
    And, I needed these warmths (made up word) at the exact time I read your blog.
    So, thank you for tending to me with your beauty.

  • Denise

    Denise

    Thanks Alisa! I love you too, and your comment made me smile. I feel you in my corner always, and it means a lot to me.

    Thanks Alisa! I love you too, and your comment made me smile. I feel you in my corner always, and it means a lot to me.

  • Denise

    Denise

    Sunny! It makes me happy that my story touched your heart. You touch mine back. Thanks for your comment, and have a wonderful new year filled with lots of "warmths."

    Sunny! It makes me happy that my story touched your heart. You touch mine back. Thanks for your comment, and have a wonderful new year filled with lots of "warmths."

  • harry

    harry maine

    what grabbed me immediately was the distance we travel in time, age, structure, know-how, and spirituality. i try to think of how bored i was during holiday rituals right before i start telling a young person about how cool something is about the holiday, or about how silly i thought something was when i was young; and now i don't thinks its silly at all. i wish i had paid more attention and offered more respect when i was younger to all that was offered. when it comes to music, i find i am now loving some of the music my folks listened to that i didnt enjoy as a kid. like swing! Louie Armstrong is my favorite artist by far now. thanks for this memory triggering story... i look forward to reading about your experiences around the holiday

    what grabbed me immediately was the distance we travel in time, age, structure, know-how, and spirituality. i try to think of how bored i was during holiday rituals right before i start telling a young person about how cool something is about the holiday, or about how silly i thought something was when i was young; and now i don't thinks its silly at all. i wish i had paid more attention and offered more respect when i was younger to all that was offered. when it comes to music, i find i am now loving some of the music my folks listened to that i didnt enjoy as a kid. like swing! Louie Armstrong is my favorite artist by far now. thanks for this memory triggering story... i look forward to reading about your experiences around the holiday

  • Denise

    Denise

    Hey Harry! I have often wanted a do-over too! For me, those times are mostly about my own music, and stretches when I wasn't writing. I think timing also plays a role in what we are drawn to, and the way things are presented to us. There are many choices in all of our moments, and our choices create our lives. Thanks for commenting. You always have something thoughtful to say, and I look forward to your comments.

    Hey Harry! I have often wanted a do-over too! For me, those times are mostly about my own music, and stretches when I wasn't writing. I think timing also plays a role in what we are drawn to, and the way things are presented to us. There are many choices in all of our moments, and our choices create our lives. Thanks for commenting. You always have something thoughtful to say, and I look forward to your comments.

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