L’shanah tovah, people.
We had the pleasure and privilege of celebrating our New Year yesterday at dear friends Cheryl Flack and Eddie Ganet’s house.
As always, it was a warm and joyous occasion, filled with food ranging from the traditional-Gwen Macsai prepared an exquisite brisket-to the slightly unusual ceviche with a tangy lime taste that Cheryl made to the barrier-bending tortillas onto which I happily poured chicken, tomatoes, guacamole and cheese.
This of course says nothing about the challah, apples, honey and myriad of desserts.
Despite what you might understandably think, the event had more to it than food.
A lot more.
Three generations of both sides of Cheryl and Eddie’s family joined us at the long table in the dining room, in the living room off of the kitchen, where the television provided a major form of entertainment, and in the front living room, which is another conversational nook.
The mood was warm and festive, drenched in tradition and gratitude to be together and mark the beginning of another year together.
The older I get the more I appreciate friends with whom you connect in all different points of your life.
For a certain number of years, we met friends through being Aidan’s parents.
If you’re lucky, you get to develop a relationship independent of those connections.
That’s what happened with Cheryl and Eddie.
Spending time with their relatives and being included in their circle of intimates was a special and treasured way to start the year.
Another exciting part of the year will come on Friday, October 19.
That’s when we’ll gather at Brookline’s Pierce School to celebrate the completion and launch of On My Teacher’s Shoulders.
It’s a book I’ve written about knowing and learning from Paul Tamburello at three different points in my life.
The first was as a fourth grade student in 1974.
The second was as an apprentice teacher in his classroom during the years 1986 to 1989.
The third was in seeing how he’s dealt with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a non-fatal variation of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
He learned about his condition in 1993. Shortly after that, rather that feeling sorry for himself, he started his annual Positive Spin for ALS fundraising bike rides.
He eventually raised about $300,000 singlehandedly before turning the event over to the Massachusetts ALS Association.
He also created a ritual in which he brought Honorary Riders, those people who had been struck with the disease and could not ride themselves, with them. The day after the ride from Plymouth to Provincetown, near the breakwater, he’d hold a ceremony in which he’d read people’s names.
Just as it has been a source of joy to know, be around and learn from Cheryl and Eddie, so has it been that with Paul.
I first broached the topic of writing a book about our connection in the summer of 1999, several months after running the Boston Marathon in his honor.
Over a meal of stir fry prepared in the wok my parents gave me for my college graduation, I laid out my proposal.
More than a dozen years later, we’ve brought it fruition.
We will have the book available as a PDF download.
But the site will have a lot more.
Audios, photos, and a video, all woven in through a time line, will be there, too.
We’ll have the celebration at Pierce School, where I was a Lost Boy in a school production of Peter Pan and he was Captain Hook.
Pierce is where Paul worked for 34 years, moving as the new school opened in the early 70s and staying there for more than three decades.
It’s where he taught me academic skills and self-belief, gave me the gifts of academic rigor and witness.
And it’s where we’ll gather with whoever wants to join us to show the site, read, eat and enjoy each other’s company.
Last night’s gathering was filled with sweetness and the kind of warm and loving environment in which you can truly be yourself and have a visceral sense of what life is about.
I’m optimistic that October 19 will be the same (After we get through the necessary preparation work.).
Please consider yourself invited to the book event, and know that you can attend in person and in spirit.
I am grateful for being included in yesterday’s observance and for the gift of anticipation of next month’s event.
I’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, a happy, healthy, meaningful and productive year to all, regardless of the faith tradition to which you belong.