You’re standing at the stove and preparing a holiday dinner, suddenly all you can see in front of you is an image of your mom in front of her kitchen stove preparing the dinner for the same holiday many years earlier. Memories of a childhood long ago spring to the forefront unexpectedly, welcomed by your heart and met with a tear on your cheek.
It’s Passover in our home and I prepare the Seder for a family gathering each year. Our table is filled with our children and their spouses, close friends and assorted siblings (varying each year depending on individual schedules). Good and plentiful food, so many traditional recipes… we take turns retelling the story of the Exodus when the Hebrews fled Egypt. Four questions asked and answered, the bitter herbs remind us of tears, the sweet charoses to remind us of the mortar used to build the pyramids, and Shmura Matzoh to remind us of the haste that our ancestors left Pharoah’s land.
The plates on my Passover table were my mother-in-law’s, the Seder plate was my mom’s, the Haggada story belong to all the generations. L’dor v’dor, from generation to generation, we are commanded to retell the story as if we were living it ourselves. There’s laughter as we “personalize” the tale.
Inevitably we each bring our memories to the table, some different and some shared. The older generation laughs about the Seders we shared with our parents. The younger generation remembers a few years before when they dressed up to re-enact the Passover story. And every delicious bite of our festive meal is spiced with the sweetness of happy times.
One day our children will share their memories with their families, a few tears will stain their cheeks, laughter will surround their table, and the sweet memories will once again be welcomed as new ones are made for future generations.