For the last eighteen years, we have spent various Jewish holidays with a group of five other families from our temple. We all got together when our oldest kids were in the three-year-old and four-year-old preschool classes there, and it was great to have plans with friends nearly every Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover. Everyone didn’t go to every get-together, but back in those days it was nearly always a full house.
I have pictures—somewhere—of the times when the kids were around but I’m too lazy to look for them so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Those preschoolers and their siblings, thirteen kids in all, are grown up now. (The oldest just got married, in fact…yikes! I am old!) These days, we don’t get together for Hanukkah anymore, but a few of us do the High Holidays together.
And then there’s Passover.
One of the families has hosted the Passover Seder every single year (I think). Jim and I have only missed it (I think) once or twice. The quantity of table settings (and length of the table!) has grown and shrunk each year, and it’s always fun to see who is able to make it.
Way back in the day, my friend used a white paper table cloth and left crayons or markers out for the kids so they could quietly draw while we adults read through the Haggadah (prayer book) aloud, round-robin style. We also used store-bought Haggadot back then, which is how most people do it, I guess. At some point along the way, our hostess started adding new books and she’d tell us which book to grab and what page to read. Then she ended up photocopying her favorite elements of each book and created her own Haggadah.
These homemade books are such a huge part of our Seder every year. We all laugh every time we are directed to read from page four—“no, not that one! the page four that comes AFTER page seventeen!”—and we all groan when it’s our turn but we notice that we’ve landed on the part of the book that is the actual story of Passover because that’s SO MUCH READING and we all go “Nope!” when our hostess asks us if we want to sing anything other than “Dayenu”. Oh, and we all sigh a little bit when we get a book that has coloring in it from years ago.
I look forward to this evening every year. Sitting around the table with our hosts and whoever else happens to be attending is such a highlight of springtime, and just like in the Seder itself, things happen in a certain order:
1. I am complimented on my charoset, which I make every year. (Okay, it really IS delicious.)
2. Someone makes a comment about how Jim and I are “so young” (we’re the youngest couple, but not by much!)
3. I get to talk about social media both with someone who totally gets it (our hosts) and usually people who absolutely don’t.
4. We all laugh at the sump pump, which runs on a regular basis just beneath the dining room and sounds like it’s actually a Mack truck getting ready to come right through the house.
5. We talk about how weird it is that our kids are grown, when it was just yesterday that they were at the other end of the table.
6. When we get to the part of the Seder where we have to say “Next year in Jerusalem!” we all think, “Next year, right here!”
There are lots of Jewish traditions that my family has under our own roof, but this one, under my friend’s roof, means just as much to me.
If you celebrate Passover or Easter, I hope you enjoy making some wonderful memories with family and friends! Have a great weekend!