Passover blindsided me this year. One minute I’m in New Orleans, whooping it up over praline bacon, the next I’m home thinking oh shoot…Seder.
Not that I feel it’s necessary to have a Seder. I’m of a member of the Not Particularly God-y sect of Jewishness, which is definitely a giant step below Reform on the pious ladder. But I have always loved the culture and the traditions and the wonderful celebrations. Of any religion, really. Greek Easter? Christmas Caroling? Buddhist wedding? Sign me up. If there’s some Zoroastrian holiday that requires good food and wine and off-key singing, let me know so I can pencil it in. Especially if there are costumes involved.
Despite my own ill-preparedness, the the kids have been begging to “do the thing where you put your finger in the grape juice” for weeks; I felt obliged to somehow cobble together a Passover dinner. So I assembled the most last-minute, improptu, pathetically abridged, nutritionally deficient, Seder in history. My more devout ancestors would be horrified.
And let me tell you, it was awesome.
Guided by the wonderful new My Haggadah Made it Myself which is like a Taro Gomi coloring book-Haggadah mashup, the three of sat down to matzoh, deli-made matzoh ball soup, and sticky sweet grape juice. I figure they won’t eat the lamb or the egg or the parlsey anyway so…eh. I’m not making any.
We skipped the boring parts of the story, and we glazed over any God stuff. (It’s easier than you think to simply describe a “magic burning bush” or a “magic power that made frogs fall from the sky.”) We lit the candles and we sang Dayenu. We colored pictures of wine and eggs. We hid the matzoh and ate it with lots of butter. And the kids guzzled the juice out of wine glasses, a privilege that requires sitting up very very straight and drinking very very carefully. Like a princess, Thalia said. She thought that was more interesting than reclining.
At the end, I asked the girls what they felt lucky for in their lives. Thalia said for friends and family. Sage said for the cats. And farts. Then I asked them what they want to do better in the coming year. Thalia said coloring in the lines. Sage said fart.
It’s strange when we start to break away from family and create our own traditions. It’s this blank slate I almost didn’t realize I had available to me. But it’s this kind of awesome, grown-up moment to recognize that we are–I am–responsible for the next generation. For their memories, their values, their silly holiday dinners. And that we can keep what works, toss what doesn’t, improvise the rest, and in the end, create something that’s all new and all ours.
I’d imagine we’ll do it again next year. But tomorrow? Peaster. Where, in another example of weird family tradition, Nate will turn Easter Eggs into bloody eyeballs.