December 25th here was quite the quiet. Most roads are empty, never mind the UAlbany parking lots. We had a half-day of school this morning, and then came home to a big packing effort since our oldest 4 daughters: Mushky, Chani, Sara and Bassie left for JGR- The Jewish Girls Retreat winter program. Plus Raizy baked a whole bunch of things to help defray the costs of the program. Moshe has a classmate Azriel over for the weekend, and having the kids away gives Bluma and Esther Miriam a chance to bond.

Last night on the 24th we had to do some last minute shopping with the kids before they went to the winter retreat. I know December 24th is a crazy time to shop, but we did it and survived. Along the shopping route we saw a couple of things that could be inspiring life messages or Torah thought analogies. Like “Get a grip before you slip” (on a slip-on shoe accessory for slippery ice or snow); “Don’t let them put a label on you” (underneath a label inside a L.E.I. short – which incidentally we learned stands for Life. Energy. Intelligence, which had us scratching our heads); a Fruit of the Loom slogan for underwear: “Start Happy”; and others.

Back to the 25th: We’re trying to catch up on office work. Going through contact names to make sure our list is as current as possible (quite a challenge), organizing paperwork, entering data, reaching out for support so we can pay the outstanding expenses of Fall 2013 and begin towards Spring 2014. Plus we’re planning for the semester, calendar scheduling, figuring out Torah-Tuesdays, brainstorming about Regional Shabbaton, and of course keeping this website current and filling some of its gaps. And there’s clean-up and decluttering… and enjoying some quality family time!

We got some really nice feedback and support from students and alumni friends, as we endeavor to close a $4,700 gap in our Operating Fund before the start of 2014 – and a whole new exciting semester packed with programs, meals and activities. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

And FB chatting today with alumni friends over the years (its really good to hear from people) reveals the spectrum of human experiences: joys and oys, successes and stresses, love and loneliness. Life is complex, and it is interesting. It’s amazing what some people can do with it, despite deep hurt, great odds and uphill challenges.

We didn’t eat Chinese, saw no movies or specials, and didn’t get any questions about another religion’s holiday. Are we still Jewish?