Tag Archives: daughter

Making The Chuppah For My Daughter’s Wedding Brings Me Joy

17 Nov

My daughter is getting married in less than ten months now. Although they announced their engagement six months ago, and I should be used to the idea, I am still excited and a bit anxious. I want it to be a beautiful wedding. And I wanted to do something special for her. So I decided I would crochet her chuppah, the wedding canopy.

Cotton thread

The cotton thread which will become the chuppah for my daughter’s wedding.

I am a crazed crocheter. I make doilies and baby blankets out of cotton yarn. Crocheting is how I relax.   For my son’s bar mitzvah, I made over 60 head coverings for the married women who attended the service. Of course we bought kippot for the men. But I wanted the women to have something special as well. And even though his bar mitzvah was 12 year ago, I still occasionally see someone wearing one of the coverings I made at our congregation.

I did not make anything for my daughter’s bat mitzvah. She occasionally would mention to me what I did for my son’s event, and not for hers. But I explained that I was not crocheting as much then. And eventually I would do something for her. The time has come.

When I first suggested making her chuppah, she told me that I did not have to take on such an extensive project. Then she posted a photo of a wedding gown someone crocheted on my Facebook page. It was beautiful. But I knew I could not do that. However, some of my friends (one in particular) went crazy and started sending me lots of Pinterest photos of crocheted wedding gowns.   They were stunning. But with my daughter living out of the country, I thought that would be too difficult.

So this summer I started working on a sample of the chuppah I thought I would make for my daughter to see when she came in to do wedding gown shopping. It was NOT a hit. She did not like the pattern I chose at all. I had to start looking again. She gave me some ideas of what she liked and then left it at that.

But her fiancée was more enthusiastic. His comments included: You can also make all the head coverings: kippot for the men and chapel covers for the women. How about you crochet me a new tallit. That would be great you can make me my tallit. I know how to but the tzitzi on.”

It is traditional for some Jewish families for the bride to buy her husband a tallit before they get married. I bought my husband his tallit.

I was not going to crochet a tallit. OY Gevalt. That was just too much pressure. I would like to say he was teasing to a degree. But I think a bit of him really wanted me to make one. (Actually my daughter says he really wants me to make one….but I do not think so!)

I still might make coverings for the women for the ceremony. But I do not think I am going to crochet all the kippot.

However, I am now working on the chuppah. I found a pattern my daughter likes and approves.   I have started making the squares and crocheting the pattern.   I am about 1/14 of the way. With just nine months to go, I have to keep busy. When my husband and I travel, I take part of the cotton yarn with me and I crochet the inner flower that will be at the center of every square.

Flight delays are a perfect time for heavy duty crocheting.   Volunteering at a registration table also serves as a perfect time for crocheting. Except when people keept asking what I was making and then want to look at it.   It reminds be that thread crocheting is almost a lost art. Many women, young and old, told me about someone that used to know who could crochet as I do, usually their mothers or grandmothers.   And it was my grandmother who taught me over 50 years ago.

They love looking at my work and telling me what their loved one made for them years ago. One woman told be about the veil another woman made for her daughter…a crocheted veil.   My heart is going there as well. But my brain says, STOP!

I get a bit anxious when I am sitting at a meeting and not crocheting. I feel like I should bring it everywhere with me. But would that be rude?   I am under a time crunch. And I want it to be perfect.

I will be honest, the chuppah I crochet will not be the only canopy over my daughter and her future husband.   We have the final tallit my Dad wore. When he passed away we buried two tallisim with him: his bar mitzvah and wedding ones. But this one we kept as our Mom purchased it especially when he became president of his shul. My son now uses it for services. But we (my siblings and I) agreed it would be used as part of the wedding chuppah for each of the grandchildren.

The beauty of the chuppah I am making is that after the wedding, it can be used as a tablecloth. It will have a life after the wedding.   I hope whenever they use it they will feel my love surround them and their marriage.

For now, all my other projects are on hold! I will stop making baby blankets and doilies. Well that is my plan, except people I know keep having babies. So perhaps I will have to sneak a few in.

And it is possible, just possible, I might have to add some crochet elements for my daughter’s veil. We will see.

In the meantime, I am making the chuppah for my daughter’s wedding, which brings me joy.

img_9903

My daughter and son-in-law under the huppah I made.

 

Chuppah: wedding canopy

Kippot: head covering

Tallit: prayer shawl

Tzitzi: Fringes on the four courners of a tallit

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/knitting-and-crocheting-brings-love-and-memories/

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2014/12/25/i-am-proud-to-be-a-cotton-thread-yarn-addict/

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Honey for Rosh Hashannah and a Sweet, Wonderful Year!

11 Sep
Honey, apples, serving dishes, flowers and my kitten make the holiday sweet and happy.

Honey, apples, serving dishes, flowers and my kitten make the holiday sweet and happy.

We must have honey for Rosh Hashannah: honey for our apples, honey for our challah, honey in our cakes. Honey brings the knowledge that the year will be sweet. And even in times of sorrow, we must think of the happy sweetness of honey.

For over ten years my local section of National Council of Jewish Women has been selling honey for Rosh Hashannah. A dedicated group of women organize this fund raising mitzvah. We enjoy the camaraderie of packing the honey and signing cards. Each year we send out almost 1000 boxes of honey throughout the USA to family and friends.

I enjoy helping with this fundraiser both as a volunteer and as a contributor. It is one good deed, one act of Tzedakah, that I truly enjoy. Each year it seems that I send out more and more honey to my family and friends. Most of the honey I send out goes to people who live far from me. It is a way for me to be part of their holiday experience.

It is a joy to know that these people/families will have honey for the holidays. And they will know that my husband and I are thinking of them.

For many it has become a tradition. I get phone calls and emails asking me if the honey is still coming. Of course it is. I will continue to buy honey as long as NCJW has this fundraiser.

I love getting the thank you emails when the honey arrives. One friend even sent me a photo of her honey in her thanks. Another cousin in California told me that she would definitely be using her honey. From New York I heard “We got your honey! Thank you!” A friend in Massachusetts sent a note that just entitled “Sweetness,” because getting honey is that!

I know getting honey makes people happy, which makes me happy. The recipients know my family and I am sending them love as well as sweetness. We are helping to make their holiday and New Year as wonderful as can be. And sweetness from honey helps.

When my daughter was in college, I sent honey to her and her friends, some who were not even Jewish. They called it the ‘holy honey’ and used it not only for Rosh Hashannah, but also whenever they were feeling sick or blue. Tea and ‘holy honey’ cheered everyone up! What a way to make a year sweet and healthy!

On Rosh Hashannah I take out my special honey and apple set. I actually have several now. The one I used when the children were little looks like a bee hive. They loved it.   I also have the honey bowl my parents used for their holiday. Each year I use them as we dip our apples and challah into honey.

The holiday is soon. My raisin challah and honey cake are ordered. My NCJW honey is ready to be opened. My holiday meals are planned. Whenever I get ready for Rosh Hashannah, I remember celebrating the holidays with my family, with my maternal grandparents.  My grandfather was a baker and his special, round Rosh Hashannah challahs were delicious.  So sweet and so wonderful dipped in honey.

As we celebrate I try to think of all the joy and happiness that is in the world, and block out the sadness. Although we cannot forget what is happening, for this moment in time we celebrate and prepare for the time of forgiveness and repentance. But for now:

L’shana tova u metuka! May you all have a good and sweet year.

Is It Serendipity, Just Pure Chance? Or Is My Dad Listening?

2 Sep

My daughter lives in Israel and works at the Peres Center for Peace in Yaffo/Jaffa. I am so proud of her and all that she has accomplished. So when I learned at a committee meeting I serve on for my synagogue, Kehilath Israel, that they wanted more women speakers at services, I made an offer.

I told our Rabbi that my daughter would be flying in from Israel for Yom Kippur and for Succot, and perhaps she could speak about the Peres Center on the Saturday after Yom Kippur.

I figured I was doing everyone a favor: first after Yom Kippur everyone is exhausted. I thought the Rabbi could use a rest from speaking. Second, they wanted more women to make presentations, especially women members. Since my daughter grew up in the congregation, she would qualify on that account. Third and finally, my daughter would have a chance to tell the congregation about the Peres Center for Peace, providing some publicity for this non-profit and its work.

So it would be a little something for everyone, with positive outcomes for all.

The Rabbi agreed it would be a great idea. My daughter agreed, and said she would like to do it. Thus on the Saturday after Yom Kippur, my daughter will speak during Shabbat services at our synagogue.

I told my husband that he had to go to services with me that Saturday. We would get to hear our daughter speak, and perhaps ‘kvell’ a bit. But it is not to be, as he has to be out of town that weekend on business. I was disappointed, and a bit sad that he will miss it and will not get to hear her speak. I had been looking forward to sitting with him, among our friends, and sort of bask in the glow of hearing our daughter.

I told a friend about my daughter’s talk, and my husband’s travel. She understood my disappointment. She said her husband is out of town that weekend as well; so even though she belongs to a different congregation, she is going to come to services with me to hear my daughter speak. Okay I am not alone.

But today, I realized I was never really alone. That same Saturday will be the Shabbat that my Father’s name will be read to the congregation because his yahrzeit (anniversary of his death) is that week. I will stand and say Kaddish (prayer to honor the dead) for my Dad at services.

I say Kaddish for my parents, my grandparents, some cousins and my brother in law. It is the last act of kindness I can do for them. I remember them. Each time I rise to say Kaddish, I feel as though that person is with me for that moment of prayer. I commune with the in my mind. Their name is not forgotten. And so on this day I will remember my Dad and he will be with me.

My Dad was extremely active at his congregation, Temple Israel, in New Jersey. He served as president for eleven years. YES, 11 years. He went to services almost every week. It was his congregation, the Rabbi and the members, who emotionally supported him when my Mom was ill and then passed away.

It was members of the congregation that supported my siblings and I when our Dad died nine months after Mom.   They came to every night of Shiva. They brought food and gave us comfort. The Rabbi was there for us for too many funerals that year, even as he himself endured the loss of his wife.

My parents were so involved in their congregation. They shopped each Thursday at Costco to buy the food needed for the Shabbat Kiddush. They cooked; they volunteers; they served on the board; they went to services.

Mom was the daughter of European immigrants. The granddaughter, niece, cousin of many who perished in the Shoah, she also believed it was important to support the work of her shul (synagogue). My Dad believed in the importance of being a proud Jewish man, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a friend. He was so proud of all his grandchildren. He would be delighted to know she was making a presentation to the members of our synagogue. He would be so proud of her!

In my heart I want to believe that my parents know where my daughter lives and where she works. I believe they are watching over her. I do not think it is serendipity that my Dad’s yahrzeit is that day. I did not realize it when I made the offer. But it makes so much sense. It ties everything together for me.

When I rise to say the Kaddish, I believe he will have listened to his oldest granddaughter as she spoke to the congregation. I know that my Dad will be there with us, beaming in pride. Sometimes serendipity is more than just pure chance!

Shopping at the New Jersey Clothing Factories Led to a Life of Power Shopping

26 May

My sister and I can be power shoppers. We can go to a sales rack in most stores and find something wonderful. Others are sometimes amazed by our accurate determination of what would look good even when it is on the hanger. It is a talent we inherited from our Mom, the queen of power shoppers.

When we grew up in New Jersey, there were no true outlet stores or factory outlet stores to be exact. But there were major clothing factories nearby. And as a perk to New Jersey teachers, several times each year, the teachers were presented special cards that allowed them to shop in the factory stores. These stores were usually reserved for employees and were filled with items that were not quite perfect.

For my sister and I, it was like magic shopping at the factories with our Mom. Our two favorites were Trousers Up and Evan Picone.

These expeditions were a women event only. Dad and my brother would stay home. My sister, Mom and I would venture out on our journey to the New Jersey highway system. This was a major event. My Mom hated to drive on the highway. Due to a childhood accident, she was blind in one eye. So to take us out to the factories was a big deal. And we knew it. We were instructed to help find the right streets.

We would spend hours out there going from one factory to another and stocking up on clothes. I loved when we returned home and told our Dad how much money we saved him. His response was always the same, “I don’t care how much you three saved. I want to know how much you spent!” We never told him that number, we gave that responsibility to Mom.

My all time favorite memory was shopping for my trousseau. My Mom was a traditionalist. I was getting married and I needed to have new clothes for my honeymoon and my life. I especially needed a special outfit to wear to travel the morning after I married.

My sister, mom and I were on a mission that day. And it was a day I will never forget. I can still see some of the clothing that was purchased even today, over 35 years later. I remember the dusty blue short overalls from Trousers Up. And I remember the electric blue and white striped top with blue skirt my Mom purchased for me to wear on the plane. It was a knit Evan Picone outfit.

To be honest I kept it for years, until my daughter forced me to clean the closets one day. She informed me that I would never fit into that outfit again, and someone else could wear it. She had no emotional attachment to it, but I did. However, she was right. So about 5 years ago, I finally parted with my honeymoon ensemble.

By the time my sister married, five years later, the factory shopping expeditions were no longer available. Factory outlets were opened to shopping for everyone. And my sister had a favorite outlet, Harve Bernard. I owned two suits by this wonderful company, but my sister could live in this outlet. (My daughter made me get rid of these suits as well. They also hung in my closet for many years.)

Do you like these jackets?

Do you like these jackets?

I can still hear my Mom telling us to try something on. “Try it on,” she would say, as we shook our head looking at an item on the hanger. “You don’t know what it will look like until you put it on. You never know. It might look wonderful!”

And often it did. We learned to always try it on. A sentiment we taught to our daughters.

Why is it that some of the most important experiences between a mother and daughter and even granddaughter occur while shopping? I think because so many lessons are shared during these moments:

Always treat people with respect in the dressing room and at in the store.

Hang up your clothes after you try them on. (Cleaning as you go along makes the chore easier.)

Encourage the people you are with, but be honest on how they look.

Don’t buy something you will never wear, (do not waste money).

Never buy shoes that hurt, if your feet hurt your whole body hurts.

I loved shopping with my Mom. And in later years, I loved shopping with my daughter. And the best times were shopping with my Mom, my sister, and our two girls as well as our niece. We had many shopping bonding times. During our times shopping, we passed along our important lessons.

It's a mother's job to hold the purchases.

It’s a mother’s job to hold the purchases.

But the love of shopping is not just important on my side of the family. My sister in law and I, along with our daughters, also had wonderful times on girl weekends.   My daughter and I would drive to St. Louis to be with my sister in law and niece. We would have a great time shopping, going out to eat and visiting. Even though my daughter could not be there, I went to St. Louis to go bridal gown shopping with them. My niece now has her own daughter. I look forward to shopping with her one day as well!

For a while my cousin’s daughter was in college at Washington University in St. Louis. Of course we would pick her up for a dining and shopping treat.

And it is a treat. Sometimes we do not even buy anything. We just browse. We try on. We examine the newest styles. We guess the prices on expensive looking items. My young cousin likes shoes and boots. So we would always tried to browse through a shoe store. With all of these women I have shared laughter and joy as we shopped.

As well as excitement when we find a special treasure: a dress or shoes we were not expecting to find, but there they were calling one of our names; a bargain that cannot be passed by. These bring out the ‘power’ shopper in us.

Take me to a sales rack in any store and I will have a wonderful time. I do not care if I do not find anything for me. My sister just told me about a power shopping she had with her sister in law, who needed a certain color brown slacks. My sister led her to the sales rack in Bloomingdales. And there among the many items were the perfect pants, on sale and special sale and then 40 percent off!

What more could a shopper desire?

My daughter is now engaged. As we plan the wedding, we have discussed the wedding gown shopping experience. She wants her aunts and cousins to come with us if they can. Who better to tell her the truth and share the joy? The most glorious of shopping experiences!

Shopping at the factory outlets on the New Jersey highways brought my sister, Mom and I laughter and fun. But it also led us to a life of power shopping and a lifetime of memories with our daughters, sisters, sisters-in-law and nieces, along with many moments of joy.

Remembering My Mother In Law With a Manicure and Pedicure

6 May

On May 12, I am going to get a manicure and a pedicure. I do this once a month. But on May 12 it will be a special event. My husband’s mother, Lee, would have been 90 years old on this date. She died when she was only 59.

Before I met my mother-in-law, I did not know anyone who went for weekly manicures. But Lee did. Each week she got her hair put in to a French knot and had bright red polish put on her nails. She had beautiful hands and nails.

I was a nail biter. The only time I ever had a manicure was the week before my wedding and on my wedding day, in an effort to stop me from this awful habit. It worked to a degree. And Lee encouraged it. She would occasionally take me for a manicure when we were in town visiting.

When she was in her last months, the lovely woman who had done her hair and nails for so long, would come to the hospital once a week to wash her hair and do her nails. She told me that as long as she could, she would help Lee feel beautiful. She did this for the last three months of Lee’s illness. What an angel!

My mother in law died so young because she was a smoker.  Lung cancer destroyed her and impacted my husband. Last year, when my husband and I were both 59, my husband was in a state of mild anxiety all year. I did not realize how much his age was weighing on him until we both turned 60. “We made it,” he told me. “We made it past 59.”

So on May 12, my mother-in-law’s 90 birthday, I will get a manicure and pedicure. It is not an unusual occurrence. I go every other week to have a manicure and I go monthly for a pedicure. But this time, when I am 60, I feel it is important to celebrate her 90th birthday and Mothers’ Day in a way that will connect me to her.

My daughter used to model bridal gowns. This was one of her favorite mani/pedis.

My daughter used to model bridal gowns. This was one of her favorite mani/pedis.

Having a manicure is a way to remember Lee. I took my daughter for her first manicure when she was seven.  She is named for her grandmother, so I thought she should experience a manicure at a younger age! We put a tiara on her head and made her feel special. She loved to go. When she was a teen, she often wanted purple polish or even different colors on every other nail.

She modeled wedding gowns while in high school, and would get demure polish then. To this day, my daughter still loves to get a manicure, but no bright reds for her now! She is into the more quiet French tips, where clear polish is put on the nail beds and only white or pale pink is put on the tips.

When my mother would come to visit me, I always took her out for a manicure. My mother never took the time for this pampering when she was home. She did all her manicures by herself. She only went to a salon twice a year, when she visited me. She loved going, but felt with her arthritis, it was not worth it. However, whenever she went she felt great! To me it was a gift I could give to my Mom.

But for me, a manicure was a must. I have been going to the same person, Mary,  for over 25 years. I was one of her first clients. And when she moved into her own store, Old Town Hair and Nails, in Lenexa, KS, I followed along. She has polished the nails of my Mom, my daughter and even my sister, who I recently took to the salon.

One of my more colorful mani/pedi.

One of my more colorful mani/pedi.

The pampering of a manicure was something I learned from Lee. Twice a month, I sit with a woman who has basically shared my life with me. We talk, we have silent times, we visit. I do not answer the phone, (unless it is my children). I chose a color to fit my mood. Sometimes I chose a pink or a coral. Other times I am bold with a blue! Other times, I have sparkling tips put over the basic color. And some times, I have one nail on each hand polished slightly differently.

I am not sure if Lee would have liked all these variations. She liked the same color every week — the same bright red.

But it does not matter. This May, a few days after Mothers’ Day, I will be remembering my husband’s mother with a manicure and pedicure. And in my heart wishing her a happy 90th birthday.

The Final Frantic and Frenetic Search.

20 Mar

“I put it in a safe place.” Seven little words that put dread into our hearts whenever our Mom uttered this sentence. They were always followed by, “but I don’t remember where I put it.” This usually happened right before my parents were going out and she needed a special piece of jewelry to wear.

And it had nothing to do with her age. My Mom started putting her jewelry into a safe place into our apartment in North Bergen when we were young. The problem was that she never remembered the location of the safe place for that item. She could find other items, but never the one she was searching for at that moment.

My Dad, brother, sister and I would jump into action. We would search the house starting with her favorite hiding places. (Places I will not disclose, because maybe someone in my family still uses these places.) It would be a frantic and frenetic search,

Sometimes we found the item, but other times it was lost for almost forever. I say almost, because often, many years later the item would turn up.   My mother had a beautiful silver and semi-precious stone wedding band that disappeared for a decade. It was found in the bottom of her closet, years later by my father, quite accidently. So safe places did work.

I think my Mom got this urge to hide items from her mother. My grandparents grew up in Europe and hid money and jewelry throughout their home in the Catskills.   They had a safe, but they also buried items in the crawl space and within items throughout their home. It was fear that led to this habit. The fear of the need to be able to grab something and run, but still have some money. Luckily they never had to do that in the USA.

They had owned a bakery in West New York, NJ. And my Grandma kept every silver coin that ever came into the store. She once told me that when a silver coin came in, she would put it in her apron pocket and later get a coin from her purse to replace it to make sure the drawer balanced in the evening.

When Grandma passed away, the family was in the Kauneonga Lake for the summer.  I had flown in from Kansas. Under my Grandpa’s instructions, we opened every purse, every shoebox, and checked every coat pocket.  He said, “Don’t throw anything out till you open it. She hid things.”  And he knew his wife. Because Grandma did hide money and jewelry.

We found over 900 silver coins: silver dollars, half dollars, quarters and dimes. Money was hidden everywhere. By the end of the weekend of cleaning, we had bags filled with coins and bills. The coins were divided between her two children and among all the five grandchildren. The money was put into the bank for my Grandpa.

After my Grandpa died, I inherited their bedroom set. My Mom sent it to me with items still inside. She could not bring herself to clean it out. In a small top drawer I found a little purse of my Grandma’s. Inside the purse was $10.00. We missed that! I still have it, put away in a safe place.

My Mom developed this need to hide things, I am sure, from her parents. And so she hid her jewelry throughout their home. It helped the one time we were robbed in North Bergen when I was in high school.   The thieves searched and destroyed my parents’ bedroom. But never found her hidden stash. Her secret and safe place was so good, even the thieves could not find it!

Later, when they moved, her hiding jewelry was so crazy, as they actually had a safe in their apartment. But when she died, the jewelry was missing. It was not in their safe deposit box at the bank. That would have been easy. It was not in the safe in their home, another easy spot. No, Mom had hidden her stash away. And it was our job to do one last search; one last mystery to solve. Thanks Mom!

My sister was frantic. She called me six weeks after Mom died and a few days before I flew out to Jersey to help clean my Mom’s items from the apartment. (In Judaism you do not clean out a person’s items for at least a month. So my sister and I were getting ready to do this.)

“I cannot find Mom’s jewelry,” was her comment. Not said in a calm way at all, kind of an hysterical laughing scream.

“Don’t worry! We will find it,” I replied. I really was not worried. I knew it was in a safe place somewhere in that 1600 square foot apartment.  We would find her hidden stash.

When I got to New Jersey, my sister, nieces, daughter and I started cleaning. We opened every shoebox and every purse. But I knew it was not in those. My Mom was so stressed by what my Grandma had done so many years ago, I did not think she would make us go through the same stress. But we checked everything.

My Mom was more organized. She had a little cloth eyeglass bag that she often put her jewelry in. I started searching all the boxes and bags she had piled around the shelves and floor of the closet. There were many! And then:

EUREKA!

I found the jewelry. My sister was so relieved. She sort of sighed a deep sigh. But I felt sad.

‘I put it in a safe place’ had so much meaning that those words had a safe place in my heart. I can still vividly hear my Mom’s voice saying these seven little words. In a way, finishing the search broke my heart. I knew the last safe place was discovered. The last frantic and frenetic search was completed.

 

A Piece of Crumb Cake or A Crumb Bun Equals Love

15 Mar

Crumb cake and crumb buns, I can still taste them. Eating a crumb cake in my family is like eating love.   As the powdered sugar drips and the crumbs fall, we see and smell happy memories. I can not tell you how many important family discussions were held while we sat around eating crumb cake, but there were many. Crumb cake kept us together and talking.

My Grandpa Nat was a baker. My grandparents owned a kosher bakery in West New York, New Jersey. And among my favorite foods were the crumb buns. I say among my favorites, because I liked other items as well: chocolate chip cookies, black and white cookies and rye bread. But for my Mom, there was really just one love: the crumb buns were always the number one item for her.

She told me that as a little girl she were go down to the bakery in the morning and check out the tray of crumb buns, looking for the best one: the one with the most crumbs; the one with the biggest crumbs. And then my grandmother would cut that crumb bun out for my Mom to eat.

I would like to say that she outgrew this need. But she never did. Even after my grandparents closed their bakery in the late 1960s, my Mom still needed a crumb bun fix. When she could no longer find them in bakeries, she turned to Entenmann’s crumb cake to get her fix! Yes, my Mom was a crumb bun/cake addict.

She would share anything with her children and grandchildren, but when it came to crumb cake, she still had to choose the best piece with the best crumbs for herself. We sometimes ‘fought’ over the best piece, but in the end Mom would get it.

Mom loved to eat crumb cake on a paper towel or napkin. She would put the cake upside down on the paper, and eat the cake first. Saving the crumbs for last, she would eat the biggest crumbs first and slowly work her way to the smallest crumbs. Near the end she would fold the paper towel so that the crumbs would gather together. Then when she had picked up all the pieces she could, she would lick her finger to pick up the last crumbs. I still eat my crumb cake that way.

Her children and grandchildren learned early on that Grandma would steal their crumbs when they weren’t looking. Yes she would. If she saw a crumb on your piece of cake that was extremely large, she would just reach over and take it. In fact, sometimes we would notice that the cake in the box would be missing a few crumbs. Mom had secretly taken those crumbs when no one was around.

But the ‘stealing’ went two ways. Sometimes, after my Mom chose her perfect piece, she would leave the room for a minute. Then my Dad would pounce, and hide her cake. He would act surprised and say something like, “That was yours? Sorry I already ate it.” But she knew it was close by.   And he would give it back to her like a guilty teenager.

Finding the piece of cake with the best crumb ever was an important goal. My sister and I soon realized it was best to be up early in the morning to look for the best piece of crumb cake. But it did not matter, Mom usually beat us to the best piece.  As my sister remembers, and it is true,  sometimes the crumb cake was missing a piece from the middle!  Mom had been there first, claiming the piece with the best crumbs.

Entenmann's Crumb Cake hidden on top of the refrigerator.

Entenmann’s Crumb Cake hidden on top of the refrigerator.

The tradition took on new meaning when the grandchildren arrived. It was wonderful fun eating crumb cake together. The crumb cake, which was kept high on top of the refrigerator, would be taken down. Everyone would gather around to look at it, trying to figure out which piece they would get. The corners, of course, were the best pieces. Mom always got one of those.

In the summer time, the crumb cake tradition was not only for mornings. In the evenings, as we had our tea, someone would always bring the crumb cake down from the refrigerator. The grandchildren would come running to participate in the feast. Sometimes it was just all the girls eating with Grandma. But other times, the boys would join in as well. In my mind’s eye, I see them all giggling around the table having tea and crumb cake.

When I moved to Kansas, I was so excited to see Entenmann’s crumb cakes at the grocery store. I bought one every time my parents came to visit. But more important, I bought one whenever I felt homesick. Having a piece of crumb cake with my children, always made me feel closer to my Mom.

Even when my Mom was at her sickest, she could usually eat a piece of crumb cake. She would get a look of childlike delight when the cake would be put on the table. She still analyzed every piece, looking for the piece she wanted to eat.

For a month, when my Mom was sick, my daughter lived with my parents. My daughter told how each evening, my Mom would ask for her cake. “Find the most crumbs,” my Mom would say. And my daughter would cut my Mom the best piece of crumb cake and bring it to her. It lightened the day.

When my Mom passed away, eating a piece of Entenmann’s crumb cake became even more important. I felt close to her when I ate the crumbs from the paper towel. Sounds silly, I know. But in those first months it did help. However, about six months after she died, the grocery stores in the Kansas City area, where I live, stopped selling the crumb cake. I felt crushed. I was devastated. I no longer could have my crumb cake fix. I no longer could feel that connection with my Mom.

I can still get crumb cake when I go back east to New Jersey and visit my siblings. My sister almost always buys a crumb cake for us to enjoy during my stay.  It helps. That bond with crumb cake is part of our existence.

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I actually had a lamp made after my mom died that has some of her favorite sayings on it. The Sticks campany, which makes painted furniture, will personalize their items. And so I had something made in memory of Mom. On one side, I had them engrave, “Crumb cake ❤ Love.”

 

 

 

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