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Trifles are not Trivial

Written by Michelle November and Paul Kipnes on a New Year’s road trip up north.

Five years ago, at the request of our children’s paternal grandparents Papa and Lala, we took our 20%-off coupons to Bed, Bath and Beyond and purchased seven trifle bowls. At the time, we didn’t even know what a trifle was. But Papa and Lala were insistent that this dessert would be the biggest hit of all at our daughter’s Bat Mitzvah oneg (sweets) table.

And they were right who could resist the eye-catching dessert, comprised of layers of cake, pudding, brickle (heath bar crunch), and whipped cream or the same with fruit.

The clear glass bowls which showcased the delectible desserts survived two moves and months being lost in the far corners of the garage. Still, they made their appearance at the Bar/Bat mitzvah celebrations of each of our three children over five years. More significantly, the lasting power of these treats were that they were homemade for these special occasions by grandparents who reside on the other side of the country.

Along with the trifles, came 850 pieces of home baked pastries. Enough pieces to satisfy the sweet tooths of each of the 245 people who attended the service, and still leaving plenty of leftovers. Each child selected his or her favorites from amongst Lala and Papa’s creations: brownies, seven layer cookies, apple strudle, chocolate or cherry rugelach, chocolate-covers chinese noodle “spiders,” and more.

The crown jewel of the evening was the homemade challah, schlepped (lugged) through security on board the plane, all the way from Massachusetts.

Cooking and baking are two of Papa and Lala’s most authentic expressions of love. This baking is all the more appreciated by our children because the baking gene seems to skip our generation on both sides. So our kids get love and sweets regularly from their Cape Cod grandparents.

A sweater hand knitted by grandma might still look funny to the grandchild and they might not wear it But who can resist a sweet bowl of chocolate trifle and a piece of homemade fudge? And besides, the leftovers are delightful and no one complains when they are “forced” to eat a bowl of ice cream covered with crumpled brownies and pastries?

Our cantor sings that at each moment we “are standing on the shoulders of the ones who come before me.” For us, we are grateful that the pastries and trifles will remain sweet memories of the intense involvement of this set of grandparents has in the lives of our children. We are grateful too that our children appreciate it. So that even with a mouthful of fudge, they feel the love and warmth of their Lala and Papa.

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