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Rosh Hashanah At Bubbe Lottie’s

Every year, when Bubbe Lottie realized that Rosh Hashanah was approaching, she would go on a cleaning spree. Every curtain, throw rug and bedspread that could be washed, would be washed. The living room carpet would be washed. If he had enough time, Pop Pop would throw a coat of paint on any wall that looked as if it could use it. Bubbe would move all the furniture and dust in every nook and cranny. She would polish every piece of furniture until it glowed and shine her silver until it reflected her image. She would Windex every mirror in the house and scrub her bathrooms and kitchens until not one germ could possibly survive. Then, when everything was put in place and perfect, she would set out big bowls of candy and walnuts for the enjoyment of anyone who might come calling over the Holidays.

Then, she would begin to cook. She would make pots of chicken soup with matzo balls, chopped liver, gefilte fish, stuffed veal breast, brisket, turkey, carrot tzimmes, roasted potatoes, green beans with almonds, baked apples, honey cake and a big coffee cake. Did her house smell good? You bet it did! 

With Pop Pop’s help, she would set the table. Of course, he never set the napkins or the silverware straight enough to suit her, or lined up the pattern on the dishes just the way she wanted it to face. But she would never say a word to him, just quietly follow behind, neatening and straightening, so that when he was done, they both kvelled (to manifest enjoyment or pleasure) at the appearance of their table. Of course, there were always candles and a big beautiful challah. She was never one to bake her own challah, afraid that she couldn’t do it justice, but she would get the biggest and the most beautiful one the grocery store had to offer.

After services, the family would troop in, along with other invited guests. Bubbe always had a soft spot in her heart for those who were alone on the holidays and there was sure to be at least one or two singles or widows or someone just visiting with no where special to go. Pop Pop would pour everyone a glass of wine (apple juice for the kids) and he would say a blessing and slice the challah.

Then, with the help of at least one daughter, a daughter-in-law, a granddaughter and/or a grandson, Bubbe Lottie would start to load up the platters and bring in the food. (There were always sliced apples to dip into honey for a sweet New Year on the table and you could nibble on that until the food came.) The fressing (eating) that went on at that table was something to see. Even the picky eaters among the children were enticed to sample a little bit here and a little bit there and usually wound up eating something they would never eat at home, along with lots of the delicious challah. Of course, there was always dessert to follow and cups of tea to wash it down. And in case you were still hungry, well, don’t forget the walnuts and candy!

When the meal was over, those who could still stand would pitch in and help clean up, wash dishes and put away food. There were always one or two uncles stretched out on the couch or sprawled in a chair who had to close their eyes “just for a minute,” who would wind up snoring loudly while the children stretched out on the floor coloring or doing puzzles. Eventually, one uncle would open his eyes and demand a pack of cards and teach all of the kids how to play “Pisha Paysha.” (If you don’t know what that is, you’d better find out…it’s the best card game to play with children of all ages.)

Eventually, everyone would straggle out into the dark, usually loaded with a care package of turkey or soup or cake or some of each. You knew that the kids would fall asleep in the car on the way home and you were already sorry that you had eaten so much, after you had just promised yourself to lose at least five pounds. But, who could resist that delicious food? You would drive off, waving to Bubbe Lottie and Pop Pop as they stood in the brightly lit doorway of their little house, throwing kisses to the sleepy children. And, you could hardly wait for next year. Such was Rosh Hashonah at Bubbe Lottie’s.

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