Dear Shaina,

Despite the weirdness for all of us, it feels good to have you home, even if it is for only a short while. It is not really about the mess so much as it is about getting to know you all over again.

Thinking back, as a child, you rarely set foot in the kitchen except to eat. You weren’t one of those kids who wanted to help me bake or chop veggies for dinner. In your teen years you would make yourself an egg and tomato or maybe a grilled cheese sandwich, but there just wasn’t much sharing of kitchen space between us. I got used to going solo in the kitchen, and I didn’t do a very good job of training you to do any clean up chores. I feel responsible and guilty for your seeming obliviousness to kitchen mess.

In the meantime, talk about weird: you taking us to the airport for a month-long adventure as opposed to the other way around! For some reason, no matter which end I am on, the leaving or being left, I still find myself worrying about you. That’s just what mothers do, I guess.

I know that you are diligently working on your next steps. As always, you have managed to develop a menu of options that would overwhelm…well, almost anyone else.

My hope and plea is that you will stay in Birmingham through Rosh Hashanah at least. It’s so early this year, and I can’t imagine you actually confirming and moving on to the next phase of your life in the few upcoming few weeks. So, stay for Rosh Hashanah. The generations of food will be at our Rosh Hashanah table, and you can add your own generation’s tastes this year. Your scrumptious and exotic dishes are needed to spice up and supplement my comparatively bland baked salmon and Bubbe’s potato knishes.

I know it wouldn’t be Rosh Hashanah for me without heating up a tray of those knishes to be served to the hungry crowd arriving for late lunch after services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. I know it won’t fully be Rosh Hashanah for me if you’re not there to celebrate the holiday with all of us. And I know that whatever you bring to this holiday table will be the beginning of a new generation of traditions—I can’t wait!

We’ll be home before you know it, so enjoy going solo in the kitchen…and don’t leave home before the holidays, please!