In time for Pesach, here's an older article about Passover preparations & festivities. This year, 2014, has been wonderful, although our first seder was just three of us (hubby, son & me, future dil was working & daughter & sil were with his side of the family). The 2nd seder was lovely, a table of 13, unfortunately not everyone invited was able to make it. It was a fun time with lots of laughter and good food. ...still my favorite holiday.
As a child I loved waking up the morning before the first Passover Seder to see our kitchen so sparkling with aluminum foil lining the stove and refrigerator shelves. The special dishes were set on the table and the good silverware was polished and sparkly. All of the “chometz” (any mixture that contains flour and water that has been allowed to ferment) was GONE, often hidden away in a cardboard box in a bedroom closet or such. The food pantry was chock full of delicious chocolate covered jell rings, jars of gefilte fish (mom didn’t make her own), matzo farfel for turkey stuffing, sweet grape wine, apples, walnuts and other delicious treats.
When the extended family came to the Seder on either (or both) of the first nights, my folks had folding tables set up that stretched across the living room effectively dissecting the bathroom and kitchen side of the room. Depending on how much horseradish you took on your gefilte fish, you were happy, or not, that you sat on one side of the table or the other – the dash for water rivaled the great Exodus by itself! My dad did not read Hebrew, neither did many of the other relatives, and trust me, English was not my dad’s first language. So the reading of the Haggadah (the story of the Exodus) was always a lot of fun as daddy substituted words.
As far as I was concerned, Passover was pure magic. Passover has always been my very favorite holiday.
Now I am the mom and the wife. It is my kitchen that I line with aluminum foil. It’s my pantry that gets scoured and restocked. It is my table that hosts family Seders for up to 20 people (the largest was 24!). And oy, it is my back that feels the strain year after year.
This year as I folded myself pretzel-like to line my pantry shelves and realized that I am not nearly as flexible as I once was, I began to wonder if perhaps I fell in love with the holiday and its “magic” because I was not the one originally doing all of the work.
But as we sat around the Seder table on the first two nights (the first was just the 6 of us, the 2nd night we had 16) and we took turns reading from the Haggadah – in English with the prayers being done in Hebrew by those who knew it – there was so much laughter and so many jokes. There are jokes that are repeated year after year and still are laughed at, like the parsley dipped in salt water that we call the salad course of the meal, red faces after the horseradish is passed on matzo (home ground from fresh root!), and many, MANY impromptu comments thrown in during the evening.
The service and meal takes approximately 4 to 5 hours. That is 4 hours or more of captivated audience even though I have more table room than mom did and my home is not dissected by the elongated table. (But it was still a riot when my son, seated at the far end, handed his father, seated at the head of the table, a walkie-talkie so they could “communicate”!) And as I sat there, hopping up between courses to serve, I noticed something significant – the magic is the family. It is the laughter, it’s the joy, it’s the good food, it’s the love and it’s time together.
There is such a magic – I love the Passover holiday.