Happy Thanksgiving, 2019!

Joy here:

As Thanksgiving rolls around yet again, it calls to mind many memories.  It is truly my favorite holiday, always has been.  It is about food, gathering together as a family, whatever that family unit may consist of, traditions, being bored with your relatives, wondering how you could possibly be related!!, falling asleep after the big meal. watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, pretending you like the football game that is on (who’s playing?!) remembering the holiday of the past, particularly if you have lost loved ones along the way. Thanksgiving is about all of these things and more.

Funnily. enough, as my friend CC would say, I donated several pieces of my parent’s furniture to The Salvation Army last week.  In case you didn’t know, mahogany is so out!  Millennials like light wood, (“mid century everything!)  One of them was a mahogany dining room table   (from the 1940’s where you would add leaves to expand it). We had this piece of furniture in the foyer of our UWS apt for most of the year, but opened it up for “company”. My mother, Muriel, spent days ahead of Thanksgiving preparing for family.  It included a trip down to the lower east side for nuts, prunes and apricots (she made this concoction of prunes, apricots and marshmallows with a toothpick as  a sweet treat-have never seen this anywhere else!) borrowing metal chairs for extra guests, polishing silver, getting the “good dishes” down from a shelf way up high in our kitchen (needed a ladder to get down), and putting out white bread to get stale for the famous Weinstein chestnut stuffing.

As Maria Shriver said in her weekly Sunday paper, “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It is filled with smells I remember, pictures in my head, stories of yesteryear, and a longing for my parents, who I miss every day.”

This year, my first born daughter won’t be with us as she is in Europe, so I will miss her dearly, but my younger daughter and her boyfriend will join us and make new memories.  I can’t wait!

So this year, remember the past fondly, but don’t live in it.  Soak in every moment of this wonderful holiday. Don’t let little things aggravate you.  Let them roll off your back.  They are unimportant.  We don’t know what next year will bring, so be happy for the now.

Lastly, in addition to my love for my family, my friends, my dog Winston, and the life I have led thus far, I am thankful for my dear friend Barclay who I have blogged with for almost 2 years now.  I am truly blessed.

 

Barclay here:

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday as well.    It’s a day of REST where it’s perfectly acceptable to plop on the sofa, eat the leftover pie straight out of the pan, and sip your first glass of wine around 2pm as you monitor the simmering dishes on the stove.

In my teaching days, Thanksgiving would fall right after 3 nights of parent-teacher conferences where you would be so tired you’d worry if you were repeating yourself mid-sentence.  Thanksgiving represented your reward for hard work and a time to reflect on the blessings of your family and your job – even if you had just put your foot in your mouth at 9pm the previous night and called 2nd grader Suzie, Sally, right to her parents’ faces.

Even though we Marcell’s don’t have a big family, on Thanksgiving, we always had every traditional dish represented at the table –  the four of us plus Grandma Rosie would sit down to-  twice baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, sweet potatoes, a giant turkey amply stuffed, alongside green beans and salad  chiming in as the only healthy options, and that being questionable.  This feast was followed by 3 kinds of Bakers Square pies.  You would think we were preparing for a marathon the following day.  No wonder we all plopped on the sofa in a carb coma!

This Thanksgiving, we will have the traditional carb extravaganza – but we will also be overwhelmed with gratitude.  (Our wine may make its appearance at 1pm!)

2019 brought two tiny miracles into our lives – our twin granddaughters who are now home from a lengthy stay in the Neo Natal Intensive Care.   We are praising God for our expanded family and looking forward to joys present and to come.

Maybe this is cause for another potato dish at our table!

 

Gratitude is indeed good for the soul.

The daily devotional that I read says this for November 22nd  —

“A thankful attitude opens windows of heaven.  Spiritual blessings fall freely onto you through those openings into eternity.  As you look up with a grateful heart, you get glimpses of Glory through those windows.  You cannot yet live in heaven, but you can experience foretastes of your ultimate home.  Such samples of heavenly fare revive your hope.  Thankfulness opens you up to these experiences, which then provide reasons to be grateful.  thus, your path becomes an upward spiral; ever increasing in gladness.  Thanksgiving is not some sort of magic formula; it is the language of Love.

Even if your Thanksgiving looks a bit like this New Yorker cartoon, may your heart expand with the language of love.

Thanksgiving.

 

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A Tale of Two Faiths Part Two: The Non-Negotiable’s

Barclay here –

Did you ever see the 1979 movie, The Jerk?  There’s a VERY funny scene when a distraught Steve Martin wearing just a bathrobe is leaving his wife (Bernadette Peters).

“Well I’m gonna go then.” he yells.  “And I don’t need any of this. I don’t need this stuff, and I don’t need you. I don’t need anything except this!”  He picks up an ashtray.   And that’s it and that’s the only thing I need, is this. I don’t need this or this. Just this ashtray.” 

He glances down.

“And this paddle game, the ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need.” 

He sees something on a nearby table. “And this remote control.”

The scene continues until he tries to take the dog.  “And I don’t need one other thing… except my dog!”  The dog looks at him and growls.

“I don’t need my dog.”

 

So what do WE need in our faith-walks?

My non-negotiable tenets of faith can be summed up in a made -up song from the toddler room at my church. It goes to the tune of London Bridge is Falling Down :

God made me and God loves me. God loves me. God loves me. God made me and God loves me. Jesus wants to be my friend forever. (If you sing it enough times, I guarantee it will get stuck in your brain.  Probably forever.  Not a bad thing!)

God made me. Psalm 139 says, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely.”

God loves me. Isaiah 43:4 says, “You are precious in my eyes  and honored and I love you.”

Jesus wants to be my friend forever. Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

 

The very best thing about walking in faith is that when you endure trials. and you can’t even pray, the Spirit of God intercedes on your behalf.   Romans 8:26 says that “The Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

October 31, 2018 was a day where I could not muster prayer.  Our family was facing the “unimaginable” (a reference to the play Hamilton when Eliza and Alexander are mourning the death of their son.)

When you face the unimaginable, and you cannot pray, your very tears become prayers.

Now a year later, I can testify that God does hold your hand through the unimaginable, interpreting your wordless prayers.  As Psalm 23 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me.”

“I made you.  I love you.  And I will be your friend forever.”

So like the Steve Martin character, I will clutch onto the tenets of my faith –  promises from God that enable you to endure even the unimaginable. And bring beauty from ashes.

That’s all I need.

 

 

Today’s Takeaway –

-With age comes hardship – when prayers cannot muster words. Take heart that the Spirit of God carries your tears into the presence of God Himself.

-Joy and I do not anticipate wearing a gray bathrobe anytime soon!  Much as we love Steve Martin!  We are far too fashion forward!!

Thank you for reading our musings and reflections! Click the blue “Follow” button at the top right of the site to make sure you see Joy’s next edition about all things retirement – from faith to face cream to forgetfulness to fabulous!

Enjoy the ride!

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Faiths Part 1 – Spiritual Roots

Now that we are retired, Joy and I have time to reflect on our beliefs and faith practices.  Since we have different spiritual roots, we thought it might be interesting to share our journeys of faith, which are just that – journeys.

Barclay here –

I grew up going to church on Sunday mornings, singing hymns whose lyrics began, What a friend we have in Jesus and  Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our lives’ wild restless seas.

As young children, Charlie and I were read bedtime stories, but not about Mickey Mouse or the Berenstein Bears.  Rather, our mother read aloud her paraphrased versions of Old Testament stories, written on a yellow legal pad.  We heard about David facing Goliath with but a sling and 6 shiny stones,  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo being thrown into the fiery furnace, blind Samson regaining his strength and crushing the columns of the Philistine’s temple killing himself and all those around him. Our mother eventually published these legal pad stories in a book called, In the Beginning.

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At Christmas time, our mother was counter cultural.  She deplored  the bearded jolly man (She even wrote an article called, “No Virginia, There is no Santa Claus.”)  Her children’s book, The Real Reason for Christmas, reminded Charlie and me that God had gone to extraordinary lengths to stoop down into human existence as a baby in a manger.   Christmas was all about Jesus.

So from a young age, I believed.  My faith was anchored in the stories of a God of love intervening into human life – forgiving sins, (David, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph were hardly perfect) providing strength in weakness, and showing love, mercy, and justice.

But as the hymn says, life has its “wild restless seas” and my mother’s faith, though an undeniable force, did not override her focus on outward appearances and her quick tongue.  And as I broke away from my mother in my teens and 20s, I also broke away from my faith.  Rather than reading the Bible, I read nice devotionals that did not challenge or inspire.  I adopted a lukewarm faith, that allowed me to look inward and not outward.

But then came parenthood.  And the realization that I needed God.  Desperately.  The God of David, Shadrach, Mechak, and Abednigo.  The God who sent his son, Jesus, a fulfillment of prophesy, to die for me so that each day of imperfect parenting could be a “do-over” – grace filled and led by one more powerful than I.  As David says, My sin was ever before me.  And I could no longer do this life on my own power.  That much I knew!

What do I believe today?

Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 

Micah 6:8.

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

 1 John 4:9-10.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

 

And when my seas become restless with waves of anxiety, fear, or grief, I believe that I have a friend in Jesus who calls me o’er the tumult.

 

Joy here-

I grew up the daughter of a mother who downplayed her Judaism and a father who came from an Orthodox family of 5 children, with a mother and father speaking Yiddish in their home.  My mother, Muriel, was very Reformed, as was her brother, Morton. Uncle Morty, I was told recently almost missed his Bar-Mitzvah because he was playing stick ball!  (millennials can look that up if you are reading our blog!)  My father was  a first generation American and my mother a 3rd generation American.

I was raised Reform and attended Sunday School for seven long years, attempting to learn Hebrew for most of those years, but definitely knowing my holidays. I was confirmed at 13, not Bat-Mitzvahed (they really didn’t do that in those days for girls) I was very proud to be asked to go up to the bimah ( a raised platform in a synagogue with a reading desk from which to read the Torah, Haftarah)  My parents had been married at this Upper West Side synagogue and my grandparents had attended services there as well, so it was considered an honor to be asked.  I recited a special poem, which I had memorized. I was proud to be turning 13 as a young Jewish woman.

Fast forward and who do I end up falling in love with?  A De Santo, not a Goldstein or a Goldfarb, but an Italian, blue eyed blonde who was raised Catholic!   You fall in love with a person, not the person’s religion, so I married out of my faith.  My parents took it well, although my father certainly would have preferred me to marry a Jewish boy, preferably a doctor or a lawyer, of which my De Santo was neither.  Handsome, promising, and very smart, I hadn’t thought about anything else at 23 years of age.

When we had children, we decided you couldn’t leave it up to them to decide (many people of my generation who  married inter-faith thought they could). At the time. I was a High Holy Days worshipper, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I said my prayers every night,  (the same ones my mother taught me when I was little- “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take) David attended church every Sunday so I balanced the decision in my head and went with bringing up the children Catholic. We celebrated all the Jewish holidays, but did have a Christmas tree and attended  mass on Christmas and Easter. I wanted to expose the children to both religions and have always felt as long as you believe in some higher being and can pray when you need to (or want to), that’s all that counts.

Today, one grown daughter is more aligned with Judaism, at least culturally, and the other considers herself a Catholic.

For me, I would describe myself as a Jewish girl from the Upper West side and proud of it!  I light Yarzheit candles, just as my mother did and her mother before her. I worship on the High Holy days, I fast on Yom Kippur, I observe Passover by abstaining from all leavened foods during the holiday, and I pray every night.  My religion is important to me. I feel a swell of emotion when I sit in a synagogue and hear the cantor chant.  It is a religion of tradition, beauty, ancient customs and belief in one G-D who is omnipresent and omnipotent.

I will pass down a very special white bible “The Holy Scriptures” given to me the day I was confirmed in 1968,  one year after the Six-Day War, also known as the Arab- Israeli War. I hope my daughters will carry it on their wedding day and will feel the depth of emotion that I do when I see it and hold it.

Today’s Takeaway…

Barclay and I share a deep commitment to our religions.  Though they are different, we both believe strongly and know that we are always in G-d’s hands.

It gives us both comfort to know that.

Thank you all for reading our musings, writings, perspectives, and very personal stories.

As always, enjoy the ride.

xox Barclay and Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joy Gets Her Groove Back!

Joy here–

 

So, it’s taken me 2 1/2 years to find my stride, to get my groove back. Retirement has not been an easy transition for me, but I think I have finally figured out what I need as a person in this _____ decade of life. (This is left blank on purpose for those who don’t know my exact age and never will!! I still have to keep that secret because I am quirky about age, as many of my friends know!)

I am a worker bee (as my good friend CC says, as is she.) While some can’t wait to kick back and relax, apparently I need to work in a job capacity.   While some want to try new things, take the time to explore and experiment that they never had time for while raising a family, working, juggling everyday life – I need a 9 to 5 structure.

So, I set out to find post-retirement work.

At first, I thought it was about seeing if I could still get a job. Who would want me? What was my skill set? Old ad sales people are not in high demand!! Then, I thought, what do I really need to be happy? An atmosphere where there is a buzz, a vibe, people coming and going. Chat. Interaction.

My husband does not need any of these things and kept saying to me, “find a hobby, take an online course, read.”  But I’m not a solitary person. I love to read, but I can’t sit there all day and do that. I have read more wonderful novels in the last 2 years than in the previous 5! That’s all well and good, but I need more. No matter what other people tell you, even your spouse, who knows me pretty well after almost 42 years of marriage, you know you best!

I need affirmation, confirmation, to be valued for what I can still bring to the table — an upbeat outgoing personality who wants to engage. People fascinate me, they interest me, I enjoy the banter that comes in a social setting, a working atmosphere.

So, this summer I found work!  (A full employment economy helped  Employers of menial type jobs are so in need of people who can at least add, subtract, and multiply, as well as speak in full sentences!))

My part-time job makes me feel useful, purposeful, responsible. It isn’t about the money. I’m paid hourly!!! I work with young people who have nose rings, tongue rings, and multiple tattoos, and they’re great!! There are also a few old fogies like me and we bring a certain gravitas to the job. We’ve been around and are wise! We give good advice and we listen.

I once worked with a young lady, Anne, years and years ago, who told me her parents made her work at the local Stop & Shop. She wasn’t poor, she didn’t need the money, but they wanted her grounded and responsible. I was so impressed by that and kept reminding myself that work fulfills a need for some — and me in particular.  My working is just what I needed. I feel healthier and happier than I’ve been in 2 1/2 years.

 

It reminds me of my mother, Muriel, who went back to work when I was in high school. She had a part time job at Columbia Health, a women’s clinic for students since we lived near the university. She was so proud of herself and us of her, that at Thanksgiving, she purchased one of those turkey ice cream cakes that Baskin  Robbins used to make ( don’t know if they still do) and when served at the table, proudly announced, “Compliments of Muriel”. She was very proud of herself for buying dessert with her own money! I will never forget that and every year as the holiday ( my favorite) approaches, I think of that and her.

So, Joy is back in her groove, enjoying a part time job, buying tickets to theatre with her own money, and sneaking an extra $100 or 2 to her daughter’s! Shhhhh! It makes me happy and it’s what I needed to do for me! There may be a day when I’m ready to do less, to play more, but I’m not there now.

Today’s Takeaway

– Be true to who you are. You know best what you need to be happy.  A little work never hurt anybody and it keeps your brain alive, no matter what you’re learning. It’s learning!!!

-Barclay and I thank you for sticking with us as we slowed down our weekly writings. Life has been fuller and that’s a good thing!!!

We have so much more to say, so stay tuned!

As always, enjoy the ride!
xox Barclay and Joy