45 Avondale Road

Shana tova my jewish friends, and non jewish friends who think being jewish is so cool that they want to be jewish but only for the first jewish holiday until we have to fast and eat things that look like fish guts but are really called whitefish, SHANA TOVA all.

The Jewish holidays kicked off the same way they always do in my house, with a lot of cooking, a lot of eating, a table falling down, wine spilling, dogs barking, early exits, people laughing, others crying all the while saying CAN'T WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR, yea me neither- remind me to remember this then.

Each year the Lewis-Gartner high holidays follow the same routine. Erev Rosh Hashanah dinner is at my house, lunch the next day is at my grandmas, just us, where we sit around talking about how it used to be more than just us but then everyone died...oh by the way, happy new year.

Yom Kippur is similar with "the last supper" taking place at my house and the break fast at my grandmas. My older sister sleeps over and in the morning we all hungrily (although we're not really hungry yet we just think we are because we can't eat) get dressed and head to temple, counterfeit tickets in hand (long story for another day but in short, go mom!). Then around 3pm the "kids" go to my grandmas and make the deviled eggs for break fast. Every year my grandma forgets that I can't stand deviled eggs- not even to be in the same room as them, let alone MAKE them- and every year we have the argument that i'm not being a "joiner", every year I cave and go there only to be so repelled by the eggs that I have to leave the room, and every year she looks at me sadly and remembers I hate them...like I said, every year.

The break fast kicks off around 6pm when people start arriving, but my mom and I force everyone to wait until the 3 stars have been seen in the sky before we can eat- we're diehards deal with it- and then twinkle twinkle, it's over. Just as quickly as it began, we're eating again, quickly forgetting what we were fasting to remember and throwing our manners to the wind. No- talking with your mouthful of bagel is not in fact the proper way to ask cousin it to pass the cream cheese. Been there, done that. A few hours, a couple pounds of fish guts and a slab of rainbow cookies later, everyone says good bye, spilling out the front door into the crisp fall air, eager to get home and put on their pajamas.

When I was a kid, it was always a given that the next year, the same round of traditions would unfold. We'd always eat bagels and cream cheese by my grandma's fireplace and play dress up in the attic. We'd always take off our tights and run barefoot, relieved to be free of the MOST uncomfortable piece of the high-holiday getup. There'd always be another holiday, another dinner, another rosh hashanah lunch with just us with the theme of everyone's dead, and always another break fast. But this year, is different. This year we gathered for rosh hashanah lunch just us for the last time, and next week will mark the last year I get to get into an argument with my grandma over deviled eggs. It will be the last year we pull into their driveway, proud that we get front row parking because we're essentially residents by extension. It will be the last year I feel the plush carpet under my toes as I slip off my heels (no more stockings, I ditched those the year I was allowed to pick out my own outfit). The last year the black and white tiles fly by as we carry trays of goodies into the den. The last year the cousins hide out in the red room. The last year we hear the creak of the attic stairs and feel the cold metal tips beneath our feet. The last year we hear the click of the bar cabinets as they spring open and the last year we break the fast in the place we have done so for the last twenty five years.

This past week after Rosh hashanah lunch, post the "everyone's dead" conversation, we went through all of my grandparents things labeling them "tag sale", "bunny to keep", "sari" "dori  "diane" "june" "aaron" etc. In just a few short weeks my grandparents are selling their house. They are moving out of the home they have lived in for 59 years and while it's an important step for them, it's incredibly sad. As I pointed out to my mom, they are not only selling their own memories now, but ours too, and with it, all of the potential for future memories.  All of the "next years" and "remember whens" are somehow being packed into boxes. We've all tried to be strong as this process has unfolded but I think each of us has broken down at one point or another. How do you say good bye to a place that has meant more to you than even your own home, or bottle a sound, a smell or a feeling that literally tells a thousand stories. How do you explain what a house, a mere four walls, has meant to you over a lifetime or figure out what holidays look like without it. Even as I sit here writing this post, tears roll down my cheeks (yes i'm at work, maybe it's awkward) as I try to comprehend the finality with which Wednesday night's break fast will bring.

My grandparents house has always been my grandparents house. My mom moved there when she was two and I spent countless amounts of time there throughout my life. Even now, I walk there, run there, drive there almost weekly. I know where everything is, what every room was, what every room means, whose beds are and were whose, when furniture was bought and who the original owners were. I know who fell where (and when) who broke what (and why) and more importantly I've always felt it would always be there-.

The days between rosh hashanah are the days of introspection- 10 days that are supposed to be spent reflecting. This year, I sure do know what i'll be thinking about.

Shana tova everyone and gmar chatima tova (have an easy fast)


Dad and I at the dining room table at 45 Avondale, a long time ago