Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An Outsider’s Glimpse of Our Family’s Madness

One of my western Canadian cousins stopped by for lunch at my mother’s house on the last day of Pesach.  This is the son of my father’s brother, who died last year.  I don’t know this branch of the family well – although they started out quite close to us in Scarborough, they gradually moved farther away:  out to Whitby, Waterloo, and eventually, British Columbia.  My parents visited a few times, and both of my sisters have spent time in BC, so that leaves me being the only one who’s had nearly zero contact since they left Ontario.

Even when they lived here, they were always much closer with the other side of the family, which is Finnish and culturally very different from my own.  Visiting their family often felt like venturing into a foreign country, even though it was only 15 minutes away – their home was full of exotic touches:  a spider monkey, a microwave, wall-sized panoramic wallpaper, take-out submarine sandwiches.  I never felt like we were estranged, exactly… but we didn’t spend much time there.  I always sensed my mother didn’t approve.

In any event, my cousin was at the table on Shabbos, the last day of Pesach, taking pictures and videotaping our chaotically noisy family scene.  At one point, I asked him not to take pictures of my family on Shabbos.  I thought I said it pretty nicely, but one of the kids said it sounded nasty anyway.  YM decided he was davka going to stand in front and ham it up for the camera – anything to stick it to me and my oppressive religious traditions, right?  Blah.  :-(

I do approve of the fact that he’s muted the sound during the bentsching… so you can’t actually hear us singing, which is probably for the best!

How would you handle it if someone wanted to take your picture on Shabbos or Yom Tov?