Dear Kallas, עמו”ש
א גוטן חודש!
Thank you so much for all of your feedback, updates, and suggestions for topics; and each time someone suggests an idea to me, I know that behind that person, are many others who have experienced similar feelings, or situations, and most often, there is an underlying idea that if expanded, really can touch all of us.
Recently, I was speaking with a young mother that had moved out of town, far from her family. Her husband was learning in a prestigious Kollel, growing tremendously in his learning, her children were doing very nicely in school, but her missing her siblings and parents often overshadowed all of the good. Their intentions are not to remain in this city for much longer, but in the meantime, she is often missing out on family simchos, and the day-to-day inability to interact with family is painful to her.
Feeling bold one day, (and particularly sad) she asked to speak with her husband’s Rosh Kollel for chizuk.
His words to her were extremely helpful to her and I believe to all of us.
His first question to her was whether or not her parents had grown up with their parents and siblings nearby, and when she answered “no”, that all of her parents’ siblings and parents lived elsewhere, he understood the situation and explained the following.
I’ll paraphrase his words.
“Your parents raised you without cousins, aunts or uncles, or grandparents in your town. That means all you had was each other growing up. You relied on each other for fun, for shabbosim, for playing, you became a real family unit. You have so many shared experiences with your siblings and parents, largely because that is who you had. You are that much closer with your family because of that.
You will in all likelihood move back, and live closer to family at some point. In the meantime, realize that you are giving your children the gift of relying on each other, of being each other’s best friends, of creating family traditions together and family jokes, that are yours and yours alone.
There is something very precious about that, and as hard as it may be, realize the memories and the closeness you and your husband are creating for your children”
This really lifted her spirits, and gave her a new way to look at a hard situation.
There are a zillion lessons I heard in this, but let’s stick with one.
Whether you live amongst extended family, or on your own, there is something magnificent and enduring about creating a family identity.
These are our games, our jokes, our little traditions.
Yesterday a mother told me that when her children were little, Chanukah was such a difficult time for her, as all of her friends were running from family party to party every night, and they had no family nearby.
Instead of wallowing in her isolation, she and her husband made a different kind of party each night for her children, a donut party, a latke party, a dress up party, for 8 nights.
Years later her children have the fondest memories of those parties, and a love for Chanukah.
So, if you are far away, it’s hard, I did it too.
Know that there can be tremendous benefit. (I’m not taking away that’s it’s hard!)
Use the time well. Invest in your family and create great memories together that will be yours alone.
And if you are fortunate, and live amongst close family, look for opportunities to be “a family”.
Create your own unique memories, your own special customs, it becomes the fabric of your family and will hold you close.
Wishing you a month of Simcha,