Reminiscing over the mishpoches New Year resolutions

Special to the Bulletin

I approached the yellow building with the awning and spotted Tanta Pesha with her cronies huddled together. "Happy New Year!" I shouted, and they responded in unison, "L'shanah Tovah!"

And then Fat Rosie from Apartment 3-C said, "So come over and give me a hug. For the New Year." So I did.

"And what's new?" Tanta Pesha asked, "Besides the year? Maybe it'll be a good one and a healthy one for all of us. And believe me, if you don't have your health, you got nothing." The other ladies signaled their approval with an "Or-mayn." And Gertie with the Nails added, "Abee gezunt. That's what I always say."

"Not to change the subject," I said, changing the subject, "but have you all made your resolutions for the New Year? You know what the Babylonians used to resolve?"

I could see that my bit of erudition was lost and I almost wished that I could take back my words. Lillie with the Hair was not at all fazed, "The Babylonians from across the park? I never had so much to do with them. Although the old lady has no mazel. Both her daughters married out."

Tanta Pesha looked upset. "Both? I thought only the older one." Lillie was quick, "Both. Both married Galitzianers. I know for a fact."

And then Pesha asked, "So what did they resolve?"

I smiled and told her, "To return all agricultural implements that they had borrowed during the year."

Gertie was the next to offer. "And well they should. Some people borrow and hold so long that they begin to feel that it belongs to them already, yet."

I must have looked a bit confused, what with the mixed marriage between Litvaks and Galitzianers and the Babylonians on the other side of the park. What park?

But Lillie interrupted my confusion. "I made a resolution. From now on, no gossiping. I won't be like the one from the top floor, a regular yenta tallabenta. All she knows is to talk on the telephone and her apartment is a regular shmutz. If only she took out a dust mop once in a while. Pheh."

And Gertie said, "Me, I'll go to shul even when there's no kiddush after services. But if there is a kiddush, what will it hurt if I take a little? After all, first there's food for the soul and then…you need a little something to keep up your strength. Yes? No?"

Tanta Pesha assured her, "Of course, yes." Gertie breathed a sigh of relief and then it was Fat Rosies's turn.

"Me? Let me see. I won't talk about food or religion since you already mentioned that. But maybe if it's all right, I'll promise not to talk about my daughter-in-law, the one from Connecticut, God forbid she should pick up the phone to see if I'm alive or dead, and once in a blue moon maybe she'll remember to send me a birthday card. I won't say a bad word about her. But believe me, she should thank her lucky stars that she found a husband like my son who holds down a steady job and doesn't drink or gamble like some people I know. And I won't mention initials or names, but if you ask me how her brother is doing I just might tell you."

Tanta Pesha couldn't help but smile. "You mean you'll go a whole year without saying a bad word?"

Rosie looked up. "From my mouth will only come nice things…like, the rabbi, he should only live to be 120. That beautiful Rabbi Aarontchik told us last week we must protect ourselves against a bad tongue. He called it lashon rah. And I believe what he said. If only my sister in Manhattan listened to him, she would never spread such terrible stories. But that lazy husband of hers doesn't say a word to help her and all she does is watch television and eat take-out. You'd think that the kitchen was off limits. When she told me that she has gone around the world twice, I told her that maybe she should walk into the kitchen. That's a place I bet she's never been."

And then I looked at Tanta Pesha who only said, "Me, I'll try to be a little better than last year, which won't be hard. And if not better, then at least not worse. And meanwhile, a good year to all."

And she gave me a special hug – which I pass along to all of you.