By Shelley Hubal
My grandparent’s home on Wedgewood Terrace in DeWitt, NY, was the center of our large Jewish family. With three first cousins, multiple second cousins, scores of aunts and uncles, and one neighborhood family that we adopted as our own, my sisters and I never ran out of playmates. For years, it was the place for Sunday night dinners. (Aunt Mollie hosted Shabbat dinners, but that is a discussion for another time.)
It was not unusual to have 15 to 20 people gathered around the kitchen for pizza or spaghetti. The children would run around outdoors for hours or spread across the living room floor for lengthy card games. Cousin Dawn and my sister Daelah could not be beat at jacks. When Hanukkah came, there were always fresh latkes with applesauce, and plenty of M&Ms to “handel” over a game of dreidel. Thanksgiving meals and Passover seders were held in the basement because the extended family numbered in the 20s or 30s.
I did not know it then, but those gatherings were greatly informative. We learned socialization skills and the importance of family. We learned to clean up after ourselves and to share with one another. We learned Jewish rituals and that sharing a laugh with your loved ones is healing. The list goes on.
I truly miss those days. Grandma and Grandpa’s house was full of joy and light. We always felt loved. It’s a cliche, but life really was simpler then. There were no cell phones or computers to distract our attention, and the television had four channels. We had to make our own fun and we did.
As we start the celebrations of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, my wish for all of you is to experience joy. I hope you are all able to wrap yourselves in the light of the season. Take the time to relish in God’s simple blessings and remember to tell your loved ones how much you care. Chag sameach.