Home For The Holidays

I call the daughter in my Diaspora every year, a couple weeks before the any of the Jewish Holidays.

“Lisa, this is your father, who with some assistance from your mama, gave you life.”

“Oh, hi, Dad.”

“Lisa, Chanukah, (Pesach, Simchas torah, Purim, Tu B'shvat, whatever) is around the corner. I assume you’ll return to Zion. I mean Huntsville, Alabama, where we two senior lifegivers reside.”

“Uh, I’ll try, Dad.”

“Lisa, remember Jeremiah the prophet who could see the future and read the human heart like you read the directions on packaged matzoh ball mix? Well, he said, ‘Return ye backsliding children’. Whatta prophet - three millenia and 8,000 miles removed yet he knew all about you. And if you don’t believe me, check Jeremiah Chapter 3 Verse 22.”

“Dad, we went through this last year. Remember, I couldn’t come, but to make you happy, I sent you the signed note from the Rabbi testifying that I attended services"

“Yeah, sure. But you really oughta come home this year. It’s your poor, old mom I’m worried about. She came home from water aerobics yesterday, sloshing and gurgling. Her shopping time is way down, too.”

Sometimes it works - sometimes it doesn’t. There’s an old fable (I just originated) that makes the point about kids and Holiday Homecoming.

It’s a neat parable about a family who lives happily in a modest cabin surrounded by a thick, pathless woods. Beyond the woods is a meadow, then the bright world.

The father knows that sooner or later the son - energized by an impulse to explore the world - will leave the bosom of his family. Ah, but that woods. Dark, frightening, full of brambles. The boy will never find his way back to the cabin once his restless heart is satisfied.

“When you leave,” said the father, “you must mark your trail because someday you’ll want to return. Don’t forget.”

“Right,” replied the confident youth. “But why do you always think me a half-grown fool who can’t even find his way home and why do you assume I’ll return? The people out there (and he gestured beyond the cabin walls) will think me wise and beautiful. You’ll see.”

Soon after this conversation, the boy left. Early in the morning he stole out of his bedroom window and stepped into the impenetrable forest and brashly rushed through the woods in his eagerness for freedom. At a safe distance, the father followed, diligently marking the trail from home through the woods. Then with a long look at his son briskly striding over the meadow, the father returned home.

At Rosh Hashanah, the youth returned. And at the festive holiday table, told wondrous tales of the woods and the world beyond. “And did you have any trouble finding your way back to us?” asked the father.

“None whatsoever,” replied the son. “I told you the trail is clearly marked. Piece of cake!

So says the legend. It’s not a bad moral. They all come home sooner or later. But you must mark the trail. May all your children find their way home for any holiday that you choose.