Passover has always been my favorite holiday. While it marks the beginning of Spring plus eating delicious foods, it also means that 20 relatives whom we don’t see that often, will be coming to my parents’ home on Cape Cod to celebrate.
On the first two nights of Passover we have a seder where we reread the story of the Jews exodus from enslavement in Egypt. Each year, seated around two beautifully set tables, we eat the same foods to enhance that story. Foods such as celery dipped in salt water to remind us of the tears our ancestors shed or matzo (what Jimmy Fallon calls a large Jewish Saltine) to remind us of how the Jews had to leave Egypt in a hurry and didn’t have time to let the bread rise.
The word seder means order and the ritual of the seder is that we do things in the same order every year. That order has always spoken to my organized heart. Especially the “seder” that happens after the meal.
As the older generation remains seated in the dining room, talking about family and business and home renovations, and the little kids rush off to the den to play, those of us sandwiched in the middle begin our post-seder ritual. My cousin Todd is Mr. Dishwasher. With sleeves rolled up, he erases the pile of dirty dishes on his right, while my cousin Jenny dries. Then my sister Jackie puts them away as my sister Meredith wraps leftovers. My cousins Scott and Jeffrey, and brother-in-law Jeff, fold up tables and chairs and bring them out to the garage while I slide around between everyone doing whatever else needs to be done. During our well-choreographed dance, the best conversations take place as we c
atch up on each other’s lives, while my father takes pictures.
This year we held the seder on an earlier night because of travel issues. So what made last night – the night Passover actually started – different from all other nights? It was the first time there were 20 fewer people seated around the table. Instead it was just my parents and me – the three of us – having our own intimate seder and it was still as special in its own right.