Okay, it’s 19 years later and it’s time to fess up: I’m the one who put the porcelain butter dish in the grab bag. I was invited to a Chanukah party but only decided to go at the last minute. There was going to be a grab bag and each person had to put one inexpensive gift inside. How could I go if I had nothing to give?
That’s when inspiration struck – I could give the new butter dish, or more precisely, the extra butter dish. Somehow I had justified buying two of them when we set up house, only to hear my husband say
“Does anyone use these things?”
“Some people do,” I had assured him, and hoped I was still enough in the know to be right about that.
And so, I timidly began to use one of the off-white dish and cover sets, while the other sat collecting dust. Until Chanukah,when it became my ticket in to that big, crowded party. I went with a friend. We didn’t speak about the grab bag on the way there. But there was plenty to talk about on the way home…
“Whaddya get?” I innocently inquired.
“I actually don’t know,” she said as she reached into her bag and began the show and tell. “What do you think it’s for?”
“Hmmn,” I said v-e-r-y slowly. “Looks like a butter dish.”
“Who gives a butter dish as a Chanukah present? Does anyone still use these things?” She asked, with an expression most often seen on the face of someone sitting in the back seat – who is car sick.
“Some people do,” I managed to mumble. After that, I changed the topic. I spoke about how hard it was to maneuver my new stroller. I spoke about how what it took to get out of the house that night. And I spoke about anything else that came to mind, just to fill the air time. I didn’t have it in me to tell her I was the person responsible for her disappointing gift. I also knew that she would be embarrassed to know she had just badmouthed my humble Chanukah offering, to my face.
That night I learned it’s better to show up empty handed sometimes (Yup. A few ladies did that, smiled sweetly, and somebody still let them come in and nosh on latkes! They just couldn’t pick a prize from the grab bag, that’s all.) and I also learned that it’s better to keep secrets sometimes. In fact, even though I speak to that friend on an almost weekly basis, I still haven’t told her. Hopefully by now she would just laugh it off, but who knows? Why stir up unnecessary friction?
If that’s how awkward it can be to keep a minor secret, what’s it like to be sitting on top of a massive secret that’s as volatile as a volcano? When the Clouds Part can answer that question. It’s a novel with real life flavor.
At the center is Motty Kleinman, a small baby with big secrets; secrets that his family tries desperately to guard. Some of the story eventually leaks out and it’s clear who the culprit is – Osnat, the friendly but too-talkative teenage girl their family has taken in for the year. Accusations fly and Osnat flees without a trace. How could she? Why would she?
A generation later we also meet Motty’s niece, seventeen-year-old Dassi. Dassi has a secret too: She’s not everything she’s cracked up to be. When she quickly resigns from her position as a Bnos group madrichah, everybody “knows” the reason why. In fact, they all think so well of her because of it – but they’re all totally wrong!
Between the lines of this story that spans decades, are many silent but pointed questions:
When do you keep secrets, and at what price?
What is it like to gain a false reputation? Is it worth fighting it?
Can severed relationships ever really be mended?
If you do the right thing for the wrong reason is it still a good thing?
You’re invited to read this emotionally charged, illuminating book and see what conclusions you reach. And, if you also happen to be invited to a Chanukah party and are asked to bring a gift for a grab bag,take it from me and just give something safe, like a box of Kleenex and this book!
-Guest Blogger: Sara Miriam Gross
Click here to purchase online.