1) Tell her a holiday is coming up. Tell her it's called Rosh Hashanah. Teach her to say shanah tovah!! very sweetly. (This becomes extra sweet, offered to adults at shul, when matched with a shy smile and pigtails.)
2) Explain that it's a time to think about how to be a good person, how to have a good year with good behavior and being nice to others, and that it's time to think about all the things that happened in the past year.
3) In answer to the inevitable why?, explain that this is when God made the world, so we remember that and think about that, and use it to say thank you to God and to say thank you for all the things that matter to us.
4) In answer to the inevitable follow-up why? (because no why ever stands alone), explain that this holiday is like the whole world's birthday.
5) Mentally smack self (HARD) on forehead for not anticipating the next set of questions:
It's the whole world's birthday?? Does that mean we have to make a cake??
When we spend several days wandering around greeting everyone in sight with wishes for a sweet new year, it would just by hypocritical to discourage cake, right? So in what is likely to become a Noteverstill tradition, we baked our first Rosh Hashanah happy-birthday-to-the-whole-world cake. E's favorite book right now, incidentally, is Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen so as she helped me mix the ingredients she kept quoting from its text:
Milk! Milk! Milk for the morning cake!
I'm in the milk and the milk's in me! God bless milk and God bless me!
so she was very excited when we needed to pour milk in the bowl to make the frosting. The cake itself became not so interesting, but she was Very Eager to apply the frosting All By Herself.
So E used blue and green frosting to decorate her interpretation of the world. And then we ate the world: to a sweet and happy new year.
October 1, 2008
Still life with post-holiday Earth's birthday cake remnants
And while three of us enjoyed cake, the fourth among us, the one not old enough for such confections, crawled through a drip from her sister's exuberant decorating techniques. When we were finished eating we found green and blue knee-prints all over the kitchen and hallway floors. That's a clear sign that the holiday's over, and back to work: finding yourself hunched over the floor using baby wipes to get green frosting out of the grain of your hardwood.
It was a great holiday.