It’s Day #2 of Spring Break and we’re already a little stir crazy.
Charlotte found the afikomen at the seder yesterday (considering she was the only one of age to look) and had her winnings burning a hole in her pocket. This morning she begs me to drive sixty miles (to Carpinteria) so we could buy some bouncy balls. Gotta love four year-old logic. Instead, I offer her a trip to Toys ‘r’ Us. She blows through her money at the quarter machines. When all is said and done, I look at my clock, and it reads only 10:30 AM. At least two more hours until nap time. What now?
We arrive home right when the mailperson walks up with today’s haul. A few bills, and two large, rigid envelopes from PJ Library (a free service that offers monthly books to Jewish children) – one for Charlotte, one for Adam. I allow them to tear them open with no regard for their packaging. I want their love for literature to be as wild and unbridled as mine.
The moment the paper is off, I can see this book is one we will connect with. It is a funny, informative book about a Sesame Street vacation in Israel. I am not particularly religious, but I am connected to the culture that has enriched my family for generations. My mom was born in Israel, and came to the U.S. as a child. However, her twenties found her back and experiencing young adulthood there. I also visited it right after high school and fell in love with the tiny powerhouse of a country.
I am thrilled to share the book with Charlotte, educating her on the beautiful culture that is so different than America’s. But, I also enjoy linking it to our family customs and holidays (which are often different than the majority of America’s, too). But, as we read the pages, and she gasps and says, “Mommy! I want to float in the Dead Sea and wipe mud on me! I want to climb the Masada!” In this moment I feel even closer to her, and also my mother, who passed away nine and a half years ago.
I grab my photo album from my Birthright trip, one of only a handful of times that I’ve left my own little spot on the map. My daughter and I relive the cartoon moments from Grover’s travels, but this time it is in real life. I am in the photos, and she can picture herself there, too.
She then grabs her globe, and we point out the tiny spot on it that represents the rich country we just discussed. Yes, Charlotte – it has deserts, seas, mountains, and cities, all within a few miles. And yes, there are other countries to visit, too. And even states here in our own country that will expose us to new and different experiences. “Oh, Mommy, I want to go to ALL the countries!” Me too, Charlotte, me too.
We may not have actually traveled very far today, but our hearts have now seen and felt things that we never have before. We were reconnected with family members passed, and took an adventure halfway across the world. All because of a book.
I’ve always said a book is the cheapest vacation.