08 April 2012

Easter. After Passover Friday. I had not thought that my problems with Julia earlier this week related to our family’s favorite holidays but undoubtedly they did. After Thursday, we have been in recovery mode. So much other junk crowding the present -- how much baggage can one carry? So much anger and resentment, and such need for healing.

I made passover brownies on Friday while Julia had therapy. We swung back to a better schedule of early mornings and bedtimes closer to on time. Mary came over and let me talk and cooed over me to settle me. The seder at FUS satisfied my again this year. And I did not tear up at every passage read and song sung. Well, a few times but I was not on the brink of breaking down on every page of the Haggadah. I sat with someone I knew and chatted with a young couple who are new to the church. The woman who seems to be the guiding force behind the FUS seder introduced herself to me, saying she has seen me as lay associate at services. No one asks, are you Jewish, but talk to anyone long enough and they will tell you their story and look at you with arched eyebrows to prompt you on to tell yours. The most interesting one that I heard on Friday night was a woman who was raised in a long-time Unitarian family in which one aunt married a Jewish man and converted. As this woman explained, her aunt converted and brought her whole family into the world of Jewish traditions. And being good Unitarians, they all embraced the new traditions.

At least twice during our long association, I offered to convert. Not out of religious fervor. Could it be called traditional fervor? I have, from the first time I encountered David’s family’s traditions, such a sense of communion. A sense of ease and rightness. I used to describe how I felt that my old country Ukrainian traditions somehow matched with Jewish observances. But that is so much bunk! I was never a comfortable Catholic, and never an accepted Ukrainian. As a second generation American, I was not Ukrainian enough for “real” Ukrainians. And even among my mother and her friends, there was a distance between them, my parents’ generation, and us. Us who were so much more assimilated. It was like we or maybe just I, I am not sure, never got the secret handshake. Never learned the code. I tried a few times to fit in -- in college with a student club filled with children of the DPs who were utterly and completely Ukrainian even though they were as such as I was born in the US. And later, in the East Village when I joined a Ukrainian Choir that was not connected with any church. It was a really fine group, and I sang with them for about 6 months. Six months of going to rehearsals where no one spoke more than a few words of greeting to me, and few did that. Maybe it was and is just me, but I have never been welcomed into community with Ukrainians and have not been able to extend myself in such as way that I gain admittance to the community.

Except for the early days of our relationship when David’s father tried to keep our relationship from his mother, one time asking us to leave before his mother arrived, I was welcomed with opened arms into the family and into their traditions. If there were misgivings about David’s goyisha girlfriend and then wife, they were not spoken to me and I did not sense them. So much more welcomed than among those whose blood I shared. And so, it was not surprising that when we thought to become associated with a religiously organization, I was willing to find a Jewish congregation.

It was, however, David who hesitated. He could not commit to a belief set that was so close to his early years. I am rather thankful for that now. I am a pretty happy Unitarian.

On Saturday, like some break of a fast, Julia and I went shopping for rain gear and wii games. Rain gear and socks and sturdy sneakers for the overnight camping trip that she will take with her class this coming week. And two new wii games which will form the basis of a reward system that we are cooking up for the summer.

We came home to dye easter eggs. Strangely or serendipitously, I had no problem at all finding a dinosaur themed egg dying kit. Makes me wonder about the rest of the world.

Then, we took a long walk and went out to dinner with Mary and Robert. It was a day full that was all about a less intense time together. And that was good.

Today, we went to Easter family service which was a sweet mix of Christian and pagan stories which ended with a grand easter egg hunt. Last year, when we did the hunt, Julia needed to be in the area set aside for the youngest children where the eggs were strewn on the grass and sitting on widow ledges. This year she could look for hidden eggs -- not quite the age appropriate area, but just one down from where her age peers were hunting.

We went home to an easter egg hunt in the house. David and I set out a hunt for Cheshire from her first years until . . . it may have been the year she went away to college! We all loved doing it, making the clues more sophisticated and challenging as she grew. Sometimes getting it right and sometimes have clues much to hard to anyone to figure out. It has been hard to do egg hunts with Julia, and last year, one of her therapists put eggs in the back yard for her to find. And I was finding those eggs all through the summer! This year, however, I wrote one word clues inside of eggs and Julia went around the house finding them. She needed help on a few but she was into the challenge and had I printed instead of written in my less than clear longhand, she would have been quite successful solving most of the clues herself. As it was, it was fun and she was thrilled with a basket full of silly treats and a little bit of candy.

We have one more day of spring break before Julia goes back to school on Tuesday. I will attempt another laid back easy day. I will, as my friend, Sharyn, suggested keep an eye out for the tools that I have been given to address my girl’s challenges. Yes, I do not doubt that those tools exist for me but I agree that the finding of them is the tricky part. And thank you, Sharyn, for the love.

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