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Mama Don’t Kvetch

kvetch  (kvch) slang

To complain persistently and whiningly.

intr.v. kvetched, kvetch·ing, kvetch·es

            1. A chronic, whining complainer.

            2. A nagging complaint.

[from Yiddish kvetshn, literally: to squeeze, press]

Okay, so there are plenty of reasons to kvetch, these days – globally, and within our own households. But all that negativity can ruin your relationships and your health; then you’ll really have something to kvetch about.

 To James Baraz, the co-author of a new book called “Awakening Joy: 10 Steps That Will Put You on the Road to Real Happiness,” it’s all about attitude and gratitude.  He even managed to teach his dear old ma, an  admitted lifelong kvetch, a few new tricks. And if a single behavioral change could turn things around for 91-year-old Selma Baraz, it might do wonders for the rest of us.  He tells their story in Frame It With Gratitude

 And this is a charming video of Selma reflecting on, among other things, the Jewish mother’s “genetic” predisposition to kvetching… especially about her kids.


 For the record, I’ve got issues with this whole stereotype. Still – may God forgive me – two of my all-time favorite jokes happen to be homages to kvetchy “Jewish mothers.” (Who come, of course, in all religions, races, and ethnicities. And, yeah: men can be big-time kvetches too.)

            Mama is turning 80, and her four grown sons – all Beverly Hills moguls – are vying for which one  will give her the most over-the-top birthday surprise.

            “I’m buying a gorgeous new townhouse on the Upper East Side so she can finally move out of that crummy little Queens apartment,” boasts Morty, the oldest. “She’s gonna love it!”

            “Well, then that’s where I’ll put the state-of-the-art screening room I’ve arranged to have custom-built for her,” declares the second son, Milty, “equipped with hundreds of DVDs, for her and her friends to enjoy.”

            “Oh, I think Mama will go crazy for the white Lincoln I’ve leased her, complete with her own driver,” says #3 son, Murray. “No more schlepping on busses to the grocery store!”

            Sam, the youngest, believes he’s got them all beat; and after he tells his brothers about his one-of-a-kind gift, they concede he might be right.  “You know how Mama loves nothing more than praying? Well, through the rabbi of our congregation, I heard about an exotic parrot that was trained to recite the entire Torah, from beginning to end! It cost me a bloody fortune… but can you imagine what pleasure it will give her, to have this magnificent bird as her constant companion, repeating the holy Bible?”

            The sons all proceed excitedly with their plans. The day after her birthday, Mama leaves each of them a voicemail.

            “Morty, darling… it’s your mother. I thought maybe you wouldn’t recognize my voice, you haven’t heard it in so long. Listen, about the prospectus that real-estate lady came with. It’s very nice, but what do I need so many rooms for my old bones to rattle around in? A fortune to heat, and so far from my shul! Morty, please, sell it – it’s not for me…”

            “Hello, Milty, Mr. Hollywood? The wall-to-wall television they delivered is too big for my little place! And besides, I have problems with my vision, which you would know if you ever inquired about my health. And my friends? Most of my friends are dead – or they can’t see either. Milty dear, I don’t need such a crazy room, really. Get rid of all this equipment…”

            “Murray, love… such a car, with hardly any parking around here! And I get all my groceries delivered by Fresh Direct now, didn’t you know? No, of course you didn’t. You haven’t been back to the old neighborhood since you married… her.  And this fellow in the chauffeur’s uniform, he sits in my living room like a lump! Please – tell him he can go and take his car with him, this instant!”

            “Ahhh, Sammy, my baby! YOU know what makes your old Ma happy; you know what really matters in life!  Not fancy-shmancy things – but real things, authentic things, gifts from the heart! Sammy, sweetheart: the chicken – it was delicious.”

 And one more:

            Sadie is babysitting for her grandson on the beach in Boca Raton, when suddenly a huge wave comes crashing to the shore, sweeping the little boy into the ocean.

            “Lifeguard! Lifeguard!” Sadie screams at the young man in the nearest stand. “My grandson, he’s drowning!  Help, HELP!”

            With lightning speed, several guards race into the water. They locate the child, bring him to shore and begin performing mouth-to-mouth. After several agonizing minutes, the boy’s limp body begins to shudder, he sputters out a gush of water, and is revived!

            The guards high-five each other, and everyone on the beach begins cheering and applauding.

            “Excuse me – lifeguard?” says Grandma Sadie.

            “Yes, Ma’am!” replies the jubilant young man.

            “He had a hat.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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