Stay at home, Bubbe

December 20, 2013


Thank G-d,  our son Izzy and his wife Devorah had a baby girl this week. But how was I to know she would be born on Tuesday morning after I had already started to write about CVS on Monday? So now, I have an added challenge: it’s Thursday night already and I haven’t done a great job connecting my CVS story–which I was hoping could turn into something about the purpose of Creation–to my reflections on the miracle of a baby’s creation–which actually leaves me speechless!

And to think that I got on Facebook just so I could share my writing. When I posted “How I Got This Way” on Friday, it was because I wanted to share the story right away, even though I had shared something the day before.

I had full trust G-d would give me inspiration to write something worthwhile this week. After all, I’m doing this for Him.

Oh, well.

So, I humbly post the following in my attempt to tie it all together. Thanks in advance for reading it.

“Do you have your CVS card?”

I drop my keychain into the hand of the cashier. Then, displaying my iPhone like a badge, I announce to her: “I got an e-mail that says I get 20% off my entire order.” Ready to pounce, I am also clutching the card I received in the mail informing me of the same thing–20% off my entire order. Thinking it will help my case, I start to unload my basket onto the counter–toothpaste, dental floss, nail polish remover, thank you notes.

“It’s not coming up,” she answers matter-of-factly. The young girl is just doing her job.

I feel heat rising inside my body. “Look,”  I say as I hand her the card I received in the mail. “It says I get 20% off my entire order.”

There is a line of customers starting to form. I consider pulling out my driver’s license to prove that I am me and yelling, “just give me the 20% !”  but I know it won’t work. There is a disconnect somewhere.

The manager walks behind the cashier and asks what’s the matter. The cashier explains that the coupon isn’t coming up on the card. She is still matter-of-fact as she tries again.  I begin to offer customer feedback about how I don’t like CVS anymore since it started with these coupons. I’m just on the verge of sounding scary.

The manager politely tells me I should call the 1-800 number on the back of my card and they can help me. I answer her defiantly, “I’m not going to do that.”

“So, do you still want to get everything?” the cashier asks, still matter-of-factly.  My blood pressure lowers as I realize I can enjoy a small victory. “No, I’ll just take the nail polish remover.”

The cashier hands me a long receipt flowing with coupons; there’s nothing I even remotely want.  As another complaint starts to form in my brain,  I become mindful of making  a chilul Hashem, a desecration of G-d’s name, which is what happens any time a Jew behaves poorly. I choose instead to smile at the cashier and thank her, assuring her that I know it wasn’t her fault. I’m pretty sure my behavior came in just under the wire.

What is it with shopping that brings out the worst in me these days?  Retail therapy used to be my secret passion.  But life was simpler back when you just went into the store and hunted for bargains. Today there are too many ways to save on too many things; my senses have been overloaded.

Or could it be a middle-age thing that shopping isn’t so much fun anymore?

For one thing,  middle age means I have  a  closet full of clothes, acquired diligently over the years and “saved” so I could have them “forever.”  What am I waiting for? The time to wear these things is “now.”(Good fashion fortune: the vintage look is in.)

I also had a personal epiphany: style is not my gift and  my time (tick, tick, tick) is better spent on other things.

A few external events contributed to this shift. One was the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. As a Lubavitcher,  I understood the targeting of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivky Holtzberg to be G-d’s wake-up call: I needed to work harder than ever before to bring Moshiach.

Loosening my attachment to “stuff” was part of that process. It was simple math; less matter equals more spirit.

I discovered the joy of healing. (But that’s a blog unto itself.)

I also became a grandmother, which somehow makes my time feel more precious.

In Chassidic life, true happiness comes from a closeness to G-d. And being a grandmother means being a bubbe, which certainly sounds like someone who’s old enough to have figured all this out. (But I think it’s supposed to take an entire lifetime.)

For me, the best part of being a bubbe is that it’s a gift: I get to be part of the life cycle for the third time around.  (But please don’t ask how many grandchildren we have; a wise rabbi told me not to count them and I take this very seriously.)

So, at this lovely mid-point, it’s easier for me to be happy being close to G-d at home, especially if I’m writing about Him. But I have to remember Him in places like CVS; after all, shopping is a fact of life, even if it isn’t such a pleasant one anymore.

I pray this is my biggest challenge. And everyone’s.

Spoken like a true bubbe.








  1. Reply


    cvs?? new baby,you , G-d—everything connects!!! Baruch Hashem!!!

  2. Reply


    haha, i almost had a physical reaction to your CVS story!
    i can so relate! i absolutely can’t hold myself back, when i shop there, their coupon system is awful!I really try to behave, but i just can’t help it! my kids won’t shop with me there : )
    oh well, note to myself— shop at the rite aid.

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