A (Jewish) New Year’s Gift

I am writing this post very spur-of-the-moment, just a heads up. 

I walked in ten minutes ago, back from the gym, still sweating, carrying a backpack and a work bag with work to take home. When I got in my building I saw there were packages and was crazy excited to see that one of them was for me! Not only was it for me, it was my aunt Daphna, my dad’s sister, who has a knack for giving us the best presents.

I mean it. Daphna is one of those people who just knows exactly what you’re going to love. When I was 13 she got me a shower radio and I used it until the day it couldn’t squeak out a tune anymore. I was 21 when it stopped working. That shower radio saw me through junior high, high school, and all of college. It was also shaped like a fish and was super colorful.

But anyway…As soon as I got in the door, I take my pup Lady out of her crate and then grab the scissors. All I’m thinking as I’m about to open the package is “please be something about Grandma.” See, I loved my Grandma like crazy, and now that she’s no longer with us, my dad and Daphna have taken it upon themselves to give us constant reminders of her, and they do it beautifully.

Inside the package I find a massive loaf of something that looks like a sweet bread, like cinnamon bread, or banana bread. I pull out the accompanying card and begin to read Daphna’s beautiful note, written in her distinctive cursive handwriting that could only have been designed by the daughter of my Grandma. Grandma had the most beautiful handwriting, not to mention the most beautiful way with prose. I kept nearly every letter Grandma sent me, and I still reread them from time to time hoping to find another pearl of wisdom within those lovely curly-drawn words. 

At the end of the note, Daphna writes that the enclosed loaf is not Grandma’s recipe. (The recipe to which Daphna is referring is Grandma’s famous orange cake, which I was just as famously obsessed with when I was little. I would beg her make it for me every time I visited.) And so I opened the bag, pulled off a piece of this cake loaf, and as though in some major hurry, stuff it in my mouth. I could tell right away that this was, indeed, not Grandma’s recipe. Daphna must have used many fruits when making this loaf. But then the orange flavor hit. I didn’t see it coming, but somehow the taste I associate with Grandma made my throat close up a little and made tears start to form. I could barely swallow that bite as I tried to hold back an all-out sob fest from erupting. It’s amazing how taste and smell can send us straight back into our memories, and trigger feelings that run pretty darn deep.

I could go on for pages about how much Daphna’s sweet gift means to me, but Lady is giving me the “I’m going to pee on your couch if you don’t take me out RIGHT NOW” look. So I’m going to take Lady out.

Can’t wait to write Daphna a thank-you card!

  1. I never saw this… I’m so far behind on my reading. Thank you sweetie! Actually, it was HONEY cake (yknow – for RH). But if I neglected to mention in the note, the cake WAS Grandma’s cake. In spirit, that is. Because it was Grandma who taught me how important it was to remind people out of sight that they were never out of mind. Throughout all my years in college, Israel, graduate school, and even after marriage, Grandma sent me cake, cookies, hamentaschen (even money to buy them when I was in Israel) and numerous nonedibles (often luxurious sweaters) to mark one important day or another. Most distinctively, Grandma was the ONE person who ALWAYS celebrated Mother’s Day in my honor. I’ve got the sweetest guy and most wonderful kids, but it was Grandma who always sent me flowers and lovely plants on that day. I miss her.

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