Our family feast exceeded my highest hopes of what could even be possible - not the food, which turned out fine and fed us all well - but the feeling. I've been working for years to come up with an activity which would help the whole extended family group assembled focus on the sweetness of life. The traditional dipping of apples in hone is good, but I think its become routinized for us. People seem to rush and want to get on to the next thing - and I feel really sad when that happens because I want the holiday meal to be holy as well as happy. So this year I tried a new ritual of picking a person and giving them three small pieces of candy, one at a time while naming three things I found sweet about that person. Then that person would have the chance to pick someone else and pass out the candy while naming three sweet things about that person. It would have taken too long with a big group, but there were eight of us and it was perfect. The kids were all able to say meaningful and touching sweet things about the adults - and of course saying things about the kids was easy. People ended up sitting at the table throwing candy back and fourth well after the turn taking was over and expressing gratitude for each other's actions. I was especially touched by the things the girls said to Bob - because I think he doesn't always get how much they cherish him since he came into a blended family situation with girls who were very clear (especially Joanna) that no one could replace their Daddy. He didn't replace, but he created a whole new role they value, brought in a whole new set of skills and gifts, and they know that and say it clearly now - and he hears it. I have no idea if I will repeat this ritual next year or try something different, but it felt amazingly good to be doing something that worked for everyone on all sorts of levels. We did have a more serious round with the apples and honey at the end, where each of us said one thing we could do to make the world sweeter - and this time the focus was there for that too. It felt real, and tears came to my eyes.
Then, after the meal, we ended up dancing in the living room, which I never planned or expected at all. Ruth had Klezmer music on the sound system and Zachy talked about a dance contest and people just started dancing and Ruth started dancing with him and before we knew it the tables and chairs had been pushed out of the way and we had three generations of people dancing. Now anyone who knew anything about folk dancing would know this wasn't folk dancing according to any rules or combination of steps. - but it was folks dancing, my folks, and that was even better. I did moves I haven't done in years and my calves are still sore, but it was FUN! I'm not very good at fun, and it was wonderful that it just happened and flowed the other night. I'm still feeling happy and very thankful. I finally have everything put up but the last of the good silver and have my every day kitchen back. I am just deeply satisfied with life love right now., and that is a good base state for the rest of the introspection leading up to Yom Kippur on Friday Night and Saturday - the continuing of the turning and returning to goodness and right action.