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A Stone’s Throw Away

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It was time for Pinny’s older sisters, Chaviva and Penina, to plan his upsheren, and they were full of ideas — but very different ideas

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

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I

t was time for Pinny’s older sisters, Chaviva and Penina, to plan his upsheren, and they were full of ideas — but very different ideas.

EXCERPT The smallest size tzitzis had been bought and laid neatly in the drawer. The sparkling clean never-yet-dropped-in-a-puddle velvet yarmulke with the letter pei was ready to sit atop Pinny’s new haircut. It was time for his older sisters, Chaviva and Penina, to plan the gala upsheren, and they were full of ideas. The problem was their ideas were entirely different.

“I’m telling you,” Penina said dreamily, “light blue linen tablecloths with an overlay of white tulle is the way to go. Scattered mason jars with bright blue hydrangea at random spots on the table. Cream white ceramic plates and our Shabbos silver cutlery. That should set the right note.”

“Penina!” Chaviva exploded, “It’s a barbecue, not a wedding! We’ll do blue plastic tablecloths if you like blue, though personally I think red-and-white checks is summery and festive.”

Penina groaned at the mere thought.

“As I was saying,” Chaviva continued, “we can even do the hydrangeas, but we’re using plastic plates, plastic tumblers, and plastic cutlery. A barbecue is supposed to be easy and informal and carefree!”

Penina looked anything but carefree. “Chaviva — we have only two brothers, and we were too young to remember the first one’s upsheren. This is our chance to make a really beautiful event. The next opportunity might not be till your vort!”

“Great.” Chaviva grinned. “That gives you a while to plan.” More seriously, she added, “Shabbos and Yom Tov are times for elegant. This is supposed to be festively informal.”

“Mommy? What do you think?” Penina appealed to their mother, who had just dashed into the kitchen to get her pocketbook.

“You girls are very capable of making this decision and pulling it off on your own, like you asked permission to do. I have faith in you. Please watch Pinny while I run to the sheitelmacher.”

In a last attempt to appeal, Penina wailed, “But plastic is bad for the environment!”

“I’m afraid that the squabbling over getting everyone to wash real dishes will be bad for my personal environment,” their mother commented as she left.

“See? Plastic is great for the home environment,” Chaviva asked. “Now, do you want to walk with me to the store to select plastic goods for the upsheren?”

 

The girls were halfway down the block when they realized they’d forgotten Pinny. With a little shriek, they raced back home, separated Pinny from his truck collection, and promised him a snack bag if he’d sit nicely in the stroller.

Having won the disposables argument, Chaviva knew she should be nice to her younger sister, so she graciously allowed Penina to choose the paper goods, though she’d never have selected clear plastic (why choose no color when you can choose red?) and clear cups (we’ll fill them with red punch).

Then Pinny piped up from the stroller, through a large mouthful of Bisli, “I like lellow! Need lellow!” 

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