Have a Good One

Speech bubbles. One says :Have a good one. The other says, You too!

Have a Good One

To my surprise, the phrase “have a good day” may go back to Britain in the year 1205. The “have a nice day” variant was first recorded in the 1948 movie “A Letter to Three Wives.” From my personal experience and research, “have a nice day” seems to have become a part of popular American conversation in the 1970’s. However, I was only exposed to the expression “have a good one” during one of my visits back to the U.S. in the 1980s. To be honest, maybe because I live in Israel and it seemed fake to me, I never adapted to “have a nice day,” and I don’t think I have ever ended a conversation or meeting with “have a good one.” I’ve noted that my closing remark between a friend or colleague has long been “take it easy,” which expresses part of my Southside of Chicago roots and my sincere wishes that nothing should happen to upset you for the rest of the day. 

Nonetheless, I pondered the other day what it means to “have a good one,” particularly as we recently marked the 6-month anniversary of October 7th. As a nation, we have been experiencing many, many bad days over the last six months. I am specifically referring to those days when I would turn on my car radio on the way to synagogue in the morning, and the morning news began with the words, “״הותר לפרסום, “permission has been granted,” which listed the names of our dear soldiers who had fallen in battle the day before. This cast a pall over the entire day.  

Another bad day was when the last group of hostages was released, and the “redheads,” the Bibas children, were not part of those freed. Then, there was the day that three hostages escaped and were killed by “friendly fire.” We waited for that Entebbe moment that never came, with no major rescue of hostages or capture or death of Hamas leaders. The days became weeks, the weeks became months, with no end in sight. In short, for people living in Israel, there have not been too many nice or good days while the war continues and our brothers and sisters are held in captivity. We feel we can’t breathe normally and wake up daily with dread in our hearts while physically performing the tasks of ordinary life, including joyful events. 

Over the last few years, Israelis often part with (in Hebrew) “״שיהיה יום טוב, or “יום נעים”,  and those expressions do not carry much more weight than just saying “bye” or l’hitraot” (the equivalent of “au revoir” or “until we meet again,”) which is part of our jargon.

All of this led me to think that if we receive wishes from people to have a “good day,” do we ever stop and think about what makes up a good day? Do we ever take stock as we get ready for bed and say to ourselves, “Now, today, that was a good day!” Is a good day one when we stay home from work, a day where we sleep late, a day that we go out for a great meal, or a day that we go on vacation? In other words, does having a good day need to possess something that we don’t do every day?  

A recent good day begins with having a good night’s sleep, getting up with enough time to do my morning Qi Gong (a form of Chinese exercise and breathing) routine; I then get in the car for a brief drive to a synagogue which I recently started to attend in Jerusalem. It’s a no-nonsense minyan, made of a diverse group of people who never complain if things get too crowded. I have acquaintances who pray there, and we exchange pleasantries after the morning services end. I then drive home and prepare one of my favorite breakfasts, a combination of rice, beans, and green curry. I look at the morning news, check the results of the Chicago sports teams, and WhatsApp my son-in-law, who lives in the apartment next door, to see if my 2-year-old granddaughter is ready for gan. I slip a handful of pretzels into a small sandwich bag and greet my cute granddaughter on the stairway, where she is awaiting me in her stroller. As soon as her father leaves us alone, I slip her the bag of pretzels, much to her delight. While my granddaughter understands two languages, her verbal skills are still a mishmash of sounds. As we walk to gan she has something to say about every store we pass, unintelligible to me, except when we pass the ice cream store – that comment, I understand! After a short walk in beloved Jerusalem,I drop her off at gan, where I exchange a few words with the man who runs it , say good morning, and jest with a few of my granddaughter’s friends whose names I know. 

I then continue on my way to the local health club in order to get in a quick swim. Last week, I bumped into a cousin whose great-grandfather and my grandfather were business partners – I worked for them as a young teen. We have a short conversation, and I jump into the water, enjoying my waterproof headphones, and listening to one of my favorite podcasts called “Call Me Back” by Dan Senor. As I return to the locker room, I bump into a client from the neighborhood, who compliments me on the small deep dish pizza  I prepare every year as part of the “mishloah manot” that I give on Purim. I get dressed, look at my watch; only 9 o’clock in the morning!  The idea for this blog has already been hatched when I conclude that this has been a really, really good day!

Even during these very trying times, we need to see the proverbial trees in the forest;  we need to realize that little things we perhaps take for granted are an integral part of what makes up a good day. Sure, we would all like to win the lottery, but for me, it’s the little things, if we pay attention to them, that are valuable daily gifts we receive. 

So please allow me at this special time of the year to wish all of you not only a happy holiday, but a good one as well. A holiday where you take time to take note of the little things in life that we should all be so grateful for.

Chag Sameach,


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