As a kid, I was that weird child who LOVED the first day of school and counted down the end of summer. It’s not that I didn’t love swimming, sleepovers, the homework hiatus, or long nights playing Manhunt with friends.
It was more that I adored the fresh start that September always offered.
Sure, I loved back-to-school shopping with my mom. I loved picking out a new box of fresh, unbroken crayons and, later, Trapper Keepers, Super Shades notebooks and the coordinating (ridiculously silly) multi-colored ink pens. And I loved lunchboxes and book bags. But mostly, it was the promise of something new.
And in my religion (Judaism), the calendar year begins in the fall — which means our “new year” begins sometime in September, too.
Last night at sundown began Rosh Hashana, the start of our new year and the High Holidays or “Days of Awe.” Over the next ten days, we give pause and reflect on the past year … the kind of people we have been and how we can be better. We remember who we have been kind to; who we have hurt. We ask forgiveness to those we may have harmed, and ask the big man upstairs to inscribe us in the Book of Life for another year. And then the following September, we do it all over again.
Maya is too little to understand religion right now, but the cultural pieces of our respective religions are important to share. So tonight, I prepared the traditional holiday brisket my great-grandmother used to make for my grandma. The same brisket my grandma made for my mom, and my mom made for me. There’s something surreal about a family recipe so tried-and-true … passed from generation to generation … imagining Great-Grandma Rose feeding her children this traditional dish and then me sharing it with my half-American, half-Salvadoran daughter.
I’d love to say she devoured it like Luis did (he loves my brisket!), but she mostly picked at it and then demolished apple slices dipped in honey, a traditional treat for a sweet new year. Still, we’re sharing these family traditions with her as we start a new year … a new year which will bring us a son; a year that will make my “little” brother a husband, thereby giving me a sister-in-law … a new year in which we WILL sell our old house …
While September may always have a black cloud over it for many of us — 9/11 — I will always love this time of year and the promise and potential that lies ahead. Because really that’s what life is about, isn’t it? Potential. Taking chances; leaps of faith in the hopes that that special “something” works out. The potential of what’s ahead.
So to all my fellow tribe readers out there, L’Shana Tovah! And to everyone else, wishing you a beautiful beginning of the fall season – my fave! – and, if you have kids, a wonderful school year ahead.
May this be a year of promise and potential for us all.