| Musings |

The Suitcase

“My shtreimel box will go in the suitcase, right?” my husband innocently asked


When my husband and I were newlyweds, we bought a suitcase. We chose a teal-colored one, so we could easily identify it among a sea of black suitcases in an airport.

Before every trip — and we traveled often as newlyweds — I opened that suitcase and packed. I packed my husband’s clothing. I packed his Shabbos shoes. I packed his tallis bag and his shtreimel box and that sefer he wanted to take along, and that one also, yes, thanks.

Then I packed my own stuff. I packed clothing. And more clothing. The clothing I planned on wearing, the just-in-case clothing, and also the just-in-case-just-in-case clothing. I packed cosmetics and pharmaceuticals and slippers and Shabbos shoes and a Shabbos robe and a snood and another snood, and a snood to match the just-in-case-just-in-case sweater.

I packed pretty skirts and comfortable skirts and shoes to go with each of those skirts. I packed long-sleeved shells and sleeveless shells and just-in-case shells to go with just-in-case sweaters. I packed books and magazines, and another book in case I ran out of reading material.

I packed every pair of tights I owned, because what would I do if my tights got a hole? (I also packed a traveling sewing kit, in case anything tore.)

“My shtreimel box will go in the suitcase, right?” my husband innocently asked.

“I don’t think so. And I think we’ll have to take your tallis bag out as well.”

We only needed that one teal-colored suitcase when we traveled back then. Plus a garment bag, a sheitel box, a shtreimel box, and a tallis bag, and sometimes, depending on our destination, food.

When Baby #1 came along, packing became a whole new monster. “We’re traveling light,” I declared. I didn’t want to schlep a second suitcase for one additional, very tiny passenger. I had to figure out how to fit Baby’s stuff into that same teal suitcase.

Babies need a lot of stuff, even for a very short trip. They need onesies and stretchies and outfits and burp cloths and diapers and wipes and pacis and blankies. They need just-in-case stretchies and just-in-case blankies and Motrin and diaper rash cream and lotion and a few more diapers, just in case.

The suitcase groaned as we zipped it shut.

Time passed. Another baby joined our family and then another. Our travels became less frequent.

But once in a while, opportunities came up, and we did travel. When that happened, the teal suitcase came out, and I stuck to my rule: We’re only taking one suitcase.

The just-in-case-just-in-cases stayed behind. Then the just-in-cases. If we were going for Shabbos, we learned to travel in Shabbos clothing and arrive at our destination all ready for Shabbos. No spare shoes. No spare shells. I packed whatever I thought we would actually use, with only a few really emergency just-in-cases.

Our family continued to grow, baruch Hashem. We now have a nice number of passengers joining our trips. We don’t travel often, not at all. But sometimes, like now, in the summer, we do go away.

Once again, it’s time to pack. I’ve gotten good at this over the years. Systematic. I pack the girls. Then I pack the boys. Neat bags and piles, organized in corners of that same old teal suitcase that’s easy to identify because it’s ours, plus it carries so many memories.

I pack my husband’s stuff. No extra shoes; we’re only going for the weekend — he’ll travel in his Shabbos shoes.

I pack my own stuff. The basic things I’ll need while we’re away. I pack for the baby, easy-shmeasy. A small bag in the corner of the suitcase, some diapers, done.

No just-in-case anything. If someone’s clothes will get dirty or torn, he’ll wear dirty or torn clothing for the duration of the stay.

No sheitel box. The sheitel on my head is the sheitel I’ll wear until we return. Who even owns a second wearable sheitel anyway?

One snood.

No shells.

Definitely no books. Who has time to read?

And I have a surprise for my husband. There’s room in our suitcase for his tallis bag. And there’s even room for his shtreimel box, too.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 753)

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