Passover, Easter, Ramadan… we are NOT cancelling our holidays, but we are celebrating/observing with a little less family at our tables and without the time we normally spend in our house of worship.
If you observe one of these holidays, like me, I am sure you are thinking, it doesn’t even feel like… Passover has always been one of my favorite holidays. As a young child I would go to sleep the night before and when I woke in the morning, like magic, everything in the kitchen had changed. I truly thought it was magical and never realized the hours my mom spent to “kasher” (clean) the kitchen, change dishes and restock the pantry with the type of food we would be permitted to eat over the next eight days. Even more fun were the Seders where we told the story of the Exodus and my parents hosted dinner for so many relatives. And oh the fun of taking that first bite of horseradish and watching to see who ran first for a tall glass of water!
When I got married, by then I knew the work involved, but it was so worth it. After my parents passed I started hosting large Seders and sometimes there were as many as 24 at our table. It was a lot of work, not magic, but as I watched my own children’s faces it was so very worth it. As they grew they would always ask their friends to come over, it was always a special time whether our guests observed or not. I admit as I gotten older and our children are now adults with their own spouses and homes, I’ve begun to cater the size of the crowd a bit because, yes, it is a lot of work.
And this year (sigh), it is all different. Our son and daughter-in-love are EMTs and in the frontlines of this COVID crisis; our son-in-love is with the FD and also on the frontlines and our daughter waits for him each day at home. This year our Seder table will seat just the two of us, my husband and me. Between the important work they are all doing, the Stay-at-Home orders, and the scary risk of infections, we will be just the two of us. Our daughter is planning to “host” a short ZOOM Seder on the 2nd night so at least through the gift of electronics we can share a bit of the holiday with them. If our son and his wife have the time in te very busy schedules, maybe we’ll see them too.
I shouldn’t be complaining, I know. Everything just feels so surreal. Shopping was an adventure as we certainly couldn’t go hopping from store to store, so many of the shelves were bare anyway. We certainly have more than enough, especially since it is JUST THE TWO OF US. I am thankful it is the two of us, we have each other at a time when families are being destroyed. And I am thankful that we can use a computer and pretend, at least for a short while, that we are actually together with our offspring. I know I will get choked up when, at the end of the Seder service, we say the line “Next year in Israel”, what I will really be wishing for is “Next year with our family.”
I wish all of you a warm and loving holiday season and the promise of your family’s safety and health and that next year you can all be together to celebrate.