“What are you making for Shavuot?” my mom asked.
“Only things I’ve never made before,” was my blithe reply.
“It’ll be fine!” I reassured her. “It’s a bunch of things, so probably one of them will be good. Or fine. And if not, at least I’m having a lot of guests to eat it all.”
“Ohhh,” she said in surprise, but not disapproval. “You’re a braver woman than I.”
Where does she think it came from?
Fearlessly Hosting Shavuot 2019 Menu
*Substitutions: 4x recipe. 16 oz frozen broccoli, diced. 1 container parmesan. Double the garlic.
**Planned Substitutions: Pre-make the petitim with a little oil. Dress immediately before serving. The joys of hosting the last day of a 3-day yom tov!
I’m not saying it isn’t worth it. What I am saying is that you can’t expect to give away your time and get pure, golden, ray-of-sunshine fulfillment out of it, no matter how glorious it may feel for a while to help a cause, to stand at the font of the room and feel seen and heard and able to make good things happen for people who deserve good things. Doing something for humanity doesn’t mean you won’t still find yourself sometimes hating humanity. You just have to know that going in. It’s part of the deal.
– from I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott
I looked back out the window and I tried to find my inner peace. I heard someone yelling at their kid and I thought: I will have inner peace. It was getting harder to find my inner peace because we were almost back at Grand Central, and the other passengers were already jostling and crowding to be the first ones out the door. Right around the time a big bald guy pushed me out of the way on the stairs and then said “Excuse you,” my inner peace peaced out completely.
– from A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out
“It isn’t a ball, Madame Rossini, just a rather boring party,” said Lesley.
“A party is only as boring as the guests,” said Madame Rossini firmly.
– from Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier
Polly looked at the building–hideous seventies concrete plonked beside ten lanes of traffic–with a critical eye. “I don’t blame you for being miserable. This place would bring anyone down.”
“Exactly. And I have to work here every day, doing something I hate so how will adding some tea bags to my desk help?”
“It’ll help. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
“You’re not going to suggest I open up and get to know everyone in the office, and learn that we’re all the same under the skin, no matter how much skin there is?”
Polly laughed. “No. Some people are just awful. And some things need to be run away from, very fast, link an exploding bomb. You should quit.”
Annie felt anger build again–who was this woman, telling her what to do? “I can’t. I need the money.”
“You can do something else,” Polly said cheerfully.
“There’s a recession on.”
“Excuses.” Polly waved a hand. “Everyone uses that one, Annie. Oh, everything was always better in the past! Things are rubbish now we’re not allowed to send our children down the mines!”
– from Something Like Happy by Eva Woods
True love is finishing the last piece of cake [that no one else wanted] when you’re home alone, and leaving the frosting encrusted pan at my seat. True love is silent, considerate, and delicious.
The woman working in the tiny periodicals room had two sets of glasses, one on her nose, one on top of her head, both on beaded chains around her neck and the no-nonsense expression all librarians worth their salt maintain up until the moment you ask for help finding something, at which point they turn beatific and actually seem to emit light.
– from I’ll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa de los Santos
There are two kinds of Fascists: those who give orders and those who take them. A popular base gives Fascism the legs it needs to march, the lungs it uses to proclaim, and the muscle it relies on to menace-but that’s Fascism from the neck down. T create tyranny out of the fears and hopes of average people, money is required, and so, too, ambition and twisted ideas. It is the combination that kills.
– from Fascism: A Warning by Madeline Albright
There are even various discrete units included [in Encyclopedia of Scientific Units, Weights, and Measure: Their SI Equivalences and Origins], such as the perfect ream, which is 516 sheets of paper, and the warp, which is four herrings; it is used by British fishermen and old men at kiddush.
– from The Half Life of Facts by Samuel Arbesman
My friend and I invited each other for meals over Rosh Hashana. They were bringing their family, and I insisted that they not bring anything more when they came for dinner – no food, no wine, just themselves. In return, they insisted I, too, not bring anything as a hostess gift when I came over for a meal.
As though I would listen, and show up empty-handed. Ha! I went to the store and bought a quart of apple cider. Something seasonal, a treat, and a sweet start to a – hopefully – sweet year. I showed up, gave them the apple cider. They were pleased, I was pleased, it was delicious.
The next day, the family came over – and brought a pomegranate.
A new fruit? Seasonal? A symbol that our good deeds should be plentiful?
Game, set, match: pomegranate for the win.
Next year, if you’d like to invite me over for Rosh Hashana, feel free to tell me not to bring anything. Just know, I’ll be showing up with a pomegranate. Good planning for a good year!