We used to be wrapped up in the warmth of four sisters

whose loving arms gathered ALL the children

as we laughed, told stories, sang songs

and followed the customs of our Jewish heritage.

     We used to sit at a long table laden with fine china

and sterling cutlery, savoring the delicious tastes of

chicken soup, tszimmes, stuffed cabbage and brisket.

     We used to feel like we were part of one large family,

the children playing together; the wives in the kitchen;

the fathers in the living room sleeping after the meal;

the easiness of the day settling into a peaceful smile.

     We used to gather for Chanukah at Auntie Dottie’s

in one small living room filled to the brim with presents.

We ate cold cuts without mayonnaise, pickles, cole slaw;

the nontraditional traditional Shuman meal.

     We used to be young but then we grew up.

Auntie Dottie passed away, then Auntie Wilma and

Auntie Natalie; all the husbands gone too, leaving one sister

whose arms aren’t quite big enough to hold us all together.

     We used to be children but now we have children

who see each other only at special Jewish holidays and

and it feels as if the traditions of the past are just barely holding on.

     Then there are times when I look into the eyes of my cousins and

I am filled with the memories of smells, tastes and laughter;

the memory of four unforgettable sisters whose strong bond

runs through the core of our ever-growing family.