“The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is an auspicious time of year for me. The Jewish holiday season is full of food, family and of course, prayer. It is also a time of introspection, when I feel like I have a second chance at all those resolutions I tossed about in January. It’s a time when I ask myself, in the presence of the Universe and God, who and what do I want to be this year. And every year I convince myself that I will make a break from the toxic things that surround me and that I will become a better version of “me,” and a better human being. This year I have been thinking about my footprint here on earth – my legacy. What am I going to leave behind one day for future generations?
OK, so the wheels are turning, squeaky, but still functional, as I ponder this big idea. We all consider what we own, how and who we are passing it on to when we move through life, either to watch an object being used and loved or after we pass. (We should live to be 120 – it’s a Jewish thing, Google it.) Now, I am pondering what ideas, ideals and values I want to pass n to my children and hopefully one day grandchildren, and so on. So what exactly is the most important gift we can give our future descendants? Shouldn’t it be a piece of our true selves? But certainly not an object. I mean, I can’t imagine my great grandchildren one day fighting over my Doc Martens and miscellaneous jewelry. Seriously.
Hope you’re with me here folks. I am thinking back to my family and all the things my loved ones have shared with me and my cousins, etc. My grandparents used to host HUGE holiday meals. Neighbors, relatives, cousins and extended family. I loved these meals because the family I didn’t get to see often came from all over – from Yorktown Heights, Brooklyn, and Queens. There was laughter, incredible amounts of foods, toothpick swordfights with my cousin Dave, and quiet walks after everyone left with my grandfather and Buttons, the family pooch. I sat listening to all of these stories of different paths in life, but there was a common thread, and we were all family. That’s what truly counts in the end, right?
My cousins will tell you about my grandmother’s basement. There was an unfinished kitchen, where we played restaurant, sometimes wanting to be “Edith, the chef,” and a dressmaker’s dummy we could dance with or drape in TP. There were bookshelves overstuffed with rich, basement smelling books that we would look at, and invent games based on them. (The barstools in the den made fabulous rocket ships and pirate boats -ask David) There was even a bed down there for when we got tired and needed downtime while the adults were still eating and schmoozing – spread out across the dining room, kitchen and living room. My kids have missed all of this.
So back to my legacy. Some things are taken to heart and carried within forever – this is what I want to share with my kids and future generations. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to know both sets of grandparents, but my mother’s parents were almost like second parents to me. My grandparents had the deepest spiritual connection and unwavering faith that I have ever seen. THIS is what I want my children to have, to embrace, to remember. It is a way of life, of holding yourself, of encompassing people and family so that they feel the love, not just from you, but from something bigger.
I might not be the most religious person, or have the kind of conviction that people call unwavering, but I know who I am and where I stand in the world. Sometimes, I forget, but God reminds me with a gentle breeze, a sunny day, or sometimes, a really cathartic, heavy downpour. My grandfather went to services every day of his life. As a chid, I would hold his strong hand, walking down the street to JCBO*. I loved sitting with him, the melodies, the atmosphere- the way I could feel something larger than life that was guiding me, us, the world. It left a lasting impression in my soul, and I am deeply grateful.
My path today, although different, still leaves me feeling connected. I want my legacy to be that my children feel this divine connection, a deep sense of peace and belonging not just to God and the world, but with everyone they love. Family is sometimes more than blood, and there is magic in each connection we make in life.
And so, to my beautiful children, take time to listen, see, smell and appreciate. It is way to easy to rush through life, working, ekeing out a living to pay for extravagances and necessities, but it passes way too quickly. Trust me. Listen to your elders, people you meet, and your parents too; there is much to be learned and enjoyed by the stories that can be shared with you. We come from a generous and loving (and boisterous) family. That is your legacy – pass it on.
I have vivid memories of my past. They are part of who I am, and I hope they will become part of you and our future generations. And a few more things peeps. I have learned (the hard way) that sometimes, even when you thik you can’t take one tiny drop more, you find an inner strength. It’s true what they say – what doesn’t kill you DOES make you stronger. Don’t think about how you will find your strength – it will be there- it’s in your blood. Keep on forging ahead. Live consciously. Stay focused on the present and keep your goals in sight. You choose where to put your energies.
So this year, on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, I will remember big, loud family meals, and think about the concept of my legacy. Looking at my roots, my family, culturally, and spiritually, connects me to those who have gone before me. I want this for my children. So my lovely peeps, I am encouraging you, whatever your faith, to step back, look at what it is you carry on in your life, and what you will leave behind. This way, you know what you want to carry forward. That is your legacy.
Wishing all who celebrate a happy, healthy new year.🍎🍯
Stay motivated and caffeinated!😘☕
*JCBO – Jewish Center of Bayside Oaks