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by Jessica Ehlers, November 27, 2013
Tomorrow morning at the first shimmers of light, I will join many in the traditional turkey adventure involving multiple hours of baking and if you’re like me, varied oven temperatures. While I am aware of the sordid tradition involved with it, I have come full circle to the affair. I love the meal and I appreciate that however shady it’s past, Thanksgiving remains being rooted in gratitude and family to me that is everything.
Tomorrow is also the first day of Hanukkah. My family has some Jewish branches and I was welcomed into many Jewish homes when I was growing up. I have grown to respect many of the values, the yiddish phrases and some of the parts of me I hold dearest were fostered there.
A dear friend told me this story once when I was having a hard time and I post it in respect to tomorrow’s holidays. It is adapted from a Jewish folktale from Poland and carries a solid message.
It Could Be Worse A long time ago, there was a family that lived happily in a small, quiet house in Poland. One day they learned that the grandparents were coming to live with them. The child was very excited about this, and so were the parents. But the parents worried because their house was very small. They knew that when the grandparents arrived, the house would become crowded and much noisier. The farmer went to ask the rabbi what to do. The rabbi says, “Let them come.” So the grandparents move in. They have a lot of furniture, which goes in the living room, where they sleep, and in some other rooms, too. It is crowded and noisy in the house so the farmer goes back to the rabbi: “I did what you said, Rabbi. Now my in-laws are here. And it is really crowded in the house.” The rabbi thinks for moment. Then he asks, “Do you have chickens?” “Of course I have chickens,” says the farmer. “Bring them into the house,” says the rabbi. The farmer is confused, but he knows the rabbi is very wise. So he goes home, and brings all the chickens to live inside the house with the family. But, it is no less crowded and noisy. In fact, it is worse, with the clucking, and pecking, and flapping of wings. The farmer goes back to the rabbi. “I did what you said, Rabbi. Now with my in-laws and the chickens, too, it is really crowded in the house.” The rabbi thinks for moment. Then he asks, “Do you have any goats?” “Of course I have goats,” says the farmer. “Bring them into the house,” says the rabbi. The farmer is confused, but he knows the rabbi is very wise. He brings all the goats from the barn to live inside the house. It is no less crowded and noisy. In fact, it is much worse, with the chickens clucking and flapping their wings, and the goats baa-ing and butting their heads against the walls and one another. The next day, the farmer goes back to the rabbi. “I did what you said, Rabbi. Now my in-laws have no place to sleep because the chickens have taken their bed. The goats are sticking their heads into everything and making a lot of noise.”” The rabbi thinks. He looks very puzzled. Then he says, “Aha! You must have some sheep.” “Of course I have sheep,” says the farmer. “Bring them into the house,” says the rabbi. The farmer knows the rabbi is very wise. So he brings the sheep inside. It is no less crowded and noisy. In fact, it is much, much worse. The chickens are clucking and flapping their wings, the goats are baa-ing and butting their heads. The sheep are baa-ing, too, and one sat on the farmer’s eyeglasses and broke them. The house is loud and crazy and it is starting to smell like a barn. Completely exasperated, the farmer goes back to the rabbi. “Rabbi,” he says, “I have followed your advice. I have done everything you said. Now my in-laws have no place to sleep because the chickens are laying eggs in their bed. The goats are baa-ing and butting their heads, and the sheep are breaking things. The house smells like a barn.” The rabbi frowned. He closed his eyes and thought for a long time. Finally he said, “This is what you do. Take the sheep back to the barn. Take the goats back to the barn. Take the chickens back to their coop.” The farmer ran home and did exactly as the rabbi had told him. As he took the animals out of the house, his child and wife and in-laws began to tidy up the rooms. By the time the last chicken was settled in her coop, the house looked quite nice. And, it was quiet. All the family agreed their home was the most spacious, peaceful, and comfortable home anywhere. Retrieved from http://www.uua.org/re/tapestry/children/home/session4/sessionplan/stories/60031.shtml
To me, this tale is about perspective and about the effective use of boundaries and yes, even gratitude. So for me, a hard rain was falling. Things that normally made sense stopped doing so. There was a critical mass that was reached and I had to admit a change needed to take place.
So I made some changes and as the dust was settling, we unexpectedly found her on the internet. I filled out an application and emailed the owner of the rescue and that weekend, we retrieved her from the BONES Animal Rescue in Covelo. She is a 5 year old Basset Hound with funny back legs that march independent of the front. She steals throw pillows off the couch to pad her bed to make it the best it can be. She does not like it when people come at her too fast. Basically, she is my soul mate.
She was also the only dog we could agree on. I wanted little and fluffy, he wanted large and muscular. She is the dog we both saw and said, “Yes, she’s the one.” I am starting to understand what you guys mean when you say you wish you were the person your dog thinks you are. She’s really making me a better person. Welcome home, Daisy Duke. Surely you can see the resemblance to her namesake?