Whipping up recipes long held in your family can whip up fond memories as well.
Cook your family recipes; some things should be kept alive. In ethnic families there are rituals, usually tied to the religious, that are important and become part of the legacy and memories. In most families, eating together is a ritual that preserves legacy and memory. Even more, there are foods, cooked and eaten at particular times or times of year, prepared in a particular way, by particular people that especially preserve legacy and memory.
There are things you need to know. How to make the letter cookies your great grandmother, and then I, made when each of us in succeeding generations were small. How to make the cherry filled cookies that your great grandmother made for your grandfather and which are his very favorite. How to make your grandfather’s chopped liver (yes, the secret is in the schmaltz) and your grandma Joan’s lemon meringue pie which is too good to put in a pie, just make a double filling and eat it. I don’t know how you came to dislike brisket but you should still know how to make the best brisket on the planet, and the best potato latkes (you will always have friends at chanukah, guaranteed).
Whether you choose to be an observant or participating Jew, you should know how to make a seder. It is important to pass our story on to our children, year after year. The food is part of it, it is the glue that helps to bind our memories together, it keeps them real. The food is the taste and smell of the past and a path to the future. You know, being who I am, that I will have collected the recipes for you, and bound them in some kind of book for you to keep. But a book on a shelf isn’t enough. A few times a year, you need to take it down, make something yummy, and think of me, of your dad, of your grandparents, and the times we cooked and ate those foods together. And when your children are little, cook with them, and tell them the stories of the food and the memories… and they will live on.
So. . . I was thinking (I know, you can stop laughing now). If I had a short time to live and my son was still a teenager, which he is, what would I want to say to him, as his mom, his teacher, what would I want him to know? Better to write it down now I think, maybe then it won’t be needed. Either way, a legacy of lessons. If it is, there it will be, one task done. Lots of you will laugh but since I think each blog entry should be about one thing, here is my one thing . . . VOTE. Sounds silly? I am not sure when I became such a promoter of democracy. I know that in the better part of my working life I felt close to the constitution because of what I did; I always felt like a warrior in my role which was in defense of the little guy and in defense of the constitution. But as usual, I digress. I believe, in every aspect of life, that you earn the right to bitch about things by being willing to be part of changing them, by stepping up and raising your hand. Everyone in America these days has an opinion, more often than not a loud and relatively uninformed opinion. Which brings me to a subset of VOTE which is “be informed”. It seems to me that many young people these days have little sense of the world and what goes on it it, despite how global and technologically connected we all are these days. And how few of them have any sense of what news outlet has what bias? Very few I imagine. You can’t intelligently exercise your right to vote if you have no idea who and what you are voting for. But I believe with all my heart that the two most precious gifts our democracy gives us are the right to speak our minds out loud and the right to change things with our vote. No matter how obnoxious your views are to me or how much I disagree, I will defend at all costs your right to express them so long as they don’t actively create actual or immediate harm. And no matter how small or large the election, no matter how local and no matter how much you might think it doesn’t matter, VOTE, exercise your right to be heard. Then you can be heard to complain.