Just Call Me Ms. Forgiveness
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Just Call Me Ms. Forgiveness

Chana Shapiro is an appropriately forgiving mood this week as she gears up for Yom Kippur.

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

It’s the Jewish season to be forgiving, and I am jumping on the bandwagon. This is a heavy-duty endeavor because — and I know I’m not alone here — the year 5779 produced a bumper crop of challenges to my customary live-and-let-live serenity.

I am a list-maker by nature. Considering the litany of incidents and persons who have disrupted my inner peace, I am using the “cross it off” method that works so well for groceries, library books and housework. I’ll feel much better getting everything off my chest by sharing a partial list of people I’ve decided to forgive.

I forgive the salesperson who advised me to purchase a khaki-colored dress because it was a good color for me. Let’s be honest: Khaki is not even close to a good color for me, except when I need to dress in desert camouflage, which is rare.

I forgive the stylish footwear temp who encouraged me to buy an expensive pair of shoes that were my size and should have fit, but didn’t, and which were not available in the next size. I well remember his solemn declaration, “After you wear them a couple of times, they’ll fit like a glove.” He was right. They do fit like gloves, but not like shoes.

I forgive the overweight woman in the pharmacy waiting area who chummily turned toward me to declare, “The best thing about being fat is that we don’t have lots of face wrinkles, right?”

I forgive the neighbor who declared, “A dog is no trouble at all, and we’ll just be gone two days.” Looking on the bright side, I consider this an educational experience. I now understand that “frisky,” “friendly” and “playful” are canine euphemisms.

I forgive the renovating neighbors, who explained that the only nearby area with enough space on the street for their construction vehicles was in front of our house. Actually, there’s an upside to this. The weeks of large vehicle accommodation caused me to become an expert at circumventing the mailbox when backing down our driveway. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the guy who came to repair our gutters.

I forgive the friend who borrowed my black beret and lost it somewhere in Colorado. She ordered a near-replacement from Amazon, and now I have a second navy blue beret.

I forgive the friend who sent me to her highly acclaimed “she’s a genius with curls” hairdresser. I wasn’t immediately sure about the shorter cut, but I soon formed a definite opinion. Good thing I have those two berets.

I forgive the friend who convinced me that reupholstering furniture in pale gray linen is a good idea. It’s not, and when you come over, I’ll show you why.

I forgive the Atlanta salesman who promised furniture delivery by Pesach. The customer service rep in Ohio explained the situation with refreshing aplomb, “Sometimes these things take a bit more time.” Five weeks?

I forgive the woman in our neighborhood who feeds feral cats that end up lounging and sleeping on our patio furniture. Looking on the bright side, ever since those felines took over, bird droppings have markedly decreased.

I forgive the family that always comes early and stays late. At least they’re consistent, and really, there are so few things we can count on nowadays.

I forgive the worker who left extra molding, drywall and used gloves in our carport. To be fair, he did make room for one of our cars by piling everything on one side and doing his best to clean up the broken glass.

I forgive the anonymous neighbor who donated six hefty volumes from an old encyclopedia set to my Little Free Library, none of which was “M”, “S” or “T,” my personal favorites.

One request: If you or someone you know has said or done something untoward to me, and I don’t know about it, please don’t tell me. I’ll be starting a fresh list in a week or so, and I intend to begin the new year with a clean slate.

My family and I wish you a very healthful, joyful and fulfilling new year. May all our slates be clean. 

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