26 January 2010
Every year, my mom sends us a big box of oranges and grapefruits from Florida. Actually, I should say that every year since my grandfather died, she's done this. Before that, he used to send us the fruit. I have memories from when I was younger of us receiving this big box and my mom always struggling to find the space in their (already gigantic) fridge for all that citrus. When I lived in college, I remember thinking I was so clever to bake up some orange cranberry cookies in our dorm kitchen, only to realize that the recipe called only for about 1 tablespoon of orange juice, and that didn't really do a whole lot to use up my bounty.
Now, in January, a month already semi-depressing because of the cold and the lack of light, I think of my grandfather a lot. He was a socialist, and a patriot. He wore a gold peace sign around his neck everyday, and, in his later years, began flying the American flag upside down on July 4. When my family gathered to remember his life, three years ago, we went to synagogue and in honor of Martin Luther King Day, which was that same weekend, we all sang We Shall Overcome together. Followed by If I had a Hammer, and assorted other peace and justice tunes. My aunt and uncle stayed and sang along as we all began to file out of the sanctuary. And I will never again hear that song without thinking of him. Nothing could have been more appropriate.
And then, the big box of oranges and grapefruits arrives, and we struggle to eat them all. And think of family and rituals and gold peace signs.