taylweaver: (Default)
And thou shalt attend the sedder to which your family has obligated you to attend. Should your family place no such obligation upon you, or should they place upon you two or more conflicting obligations such that the only option is to ignore both or all of them, or should you have the gall to back out of such obligations as are placed upon you by your family, thou shalt attend a sedder of your choosing. And, upon completion of two such seddarim, or one, should you happen to be in Israel, and after darkness has fallen upon the conclusion of the first day or days of the holiday, thou shalt post such thoughts as shall occur to you in regard to this sedder which you have attended, and thus share these thoughts with your friends during the intermediate days of the holiday, that all of your friends may know whether your sedder was fun or stressful, and how much you love or cannot stand to spend holidays with your family.

And so, in fulfillment of the above obligation...

Seddarim were nice. I had the pleasure, once again, of hosting [livejournal.com profile] mbarr for the seddarim, and got to see various members of the immediate and extended family, as well as some family friends.

Going into this year, I felt like it was a year of transition in various ways. Mostly, this is because there is only one relative left in my grandfather's generation who is well enough to make the trip up from South Jersey. Many of you may recall that my grandfather passed away at the end of Pesach three years ago (check out my posts from the end of April/beginning of May three years ago for more info if you haven't heard the story). For two years after that, his surviving brother, sister, and sister-in-law made the trip up. This year, only his brother was able to travel. We weren't sure until erev Pesach whether or not even he would be able to make the trip.

In addition to that, this is my parents' first sedder as grandparents, and my nephew was with our side of the family this year for the sedder. He is almost a year old, adorable, and gets upset when someone tries to break his (egg) matzoh for him. After all, what is the fun of eating matzoh if you can't also play with it?

We also had a toddler at the sedder, along with her father, who is my second cousin.

Of course, my little cousins who live up the block are that generation also, and the oldest of them is nearly ten, so this is not an entirely new phenomenon, though they were at the other side of their family this year, so not at our sedder.

The more interesting change, though, was that my father finally replaced the old haggadot we had been using for so many years, for as long as I can remember, really. Probably longer. We began with over 30 copies of them, I think, and by last year we were down to maybe 20. Up until a few years ago, it was a gradual attrition, but by last year, haggadah after haggadah began to fall apart. Bindings split and pages were falling out all over the place. Of the 20 haggadot that were left, maybe 10 would have survived in one piece past this year. Plus, my father didn't much like them anyway.

So he finally bought new ones. He had his eye on the haggadah by Noam Tzion (or however that is spelled) but it was too big and too expensive to buy 30 of. This year, however, there was an abridged version (which is to say, full text with abridged commentary) that was much more cost-effective. So we had a new haggaddah for the first time in my life.

The Hebrew was the same, but the English was different. There are some English readings we have done every year, to the point where some of us have parts of them memorized. So it was a new experience to miss those familiar (if archaic) turns of phrase.

My father also cut down on the amount of inserts we did - i.e. special readings and songs that I get to fold and stick in to every haggaddah. We did two each night, rather than the three or four of years past. And we had to ask my father specifically to include, as is traditional, the Ballad of the Four Sons on the second night, which is the first "fun" insert we ever had - predating all of those internet parody songs that now get forwarded. So old that half of the copies we have are photocopies of a version that was typed on a typewriter!

Of course, the sedder was probably more the same than different. On the first night, we hit close to maximum capacity with 30 guests or so, and on the second night we had a more intimate sedder with about 20. As usual, the South Jersey contingent headed out early on the second night so that they could get back home, and so we were down to 10 of us, which is always refreshing, since it is 10 of us who know the songs and can read the Hebrew.

My parents were exhausted, as were many of the rest of us, and it was fun to watch them get a bit punchy by Hallel, when they began clapping along with the songs. I laughed so hard, I was crying.

Because my nephew was present, and because we sing an African American Spiritual (let my people go/go down moses) at our sedder - good thing it is also in the new haggadah - I got to thinking about what my nephew's future connection to the sedder will be. He is part African American (he is adopted, for those who are wondering how this makes sense) - as in, some of his ancestors were almost certainly slaves here in America, not too many generations ago. So slavery is in his much more immediate past, not a story from long ago. I wonder how this will affect his connection to seddarim in the future, and how he will feel, as he gets older, when he joins us in singing that song.
taylweaver: (Default)
So some of you may recall that, after last year, there was much cause for many friends to wish me an uneventful yom tov as we entered the last days of Pesach. I'd link to last year's LJ entry, but I can't recall how and I am tired. (If you need a reminder, it was posted May 1st, and it was one of my first entries)

Alas, uneventful was not to be. Thankfully, this year was not as bad as last year, but it was certainly more chaotic.

Erev Yom Tov, my cousin, Ben (Yes, [livejournal.com profile] rymenhild, that Ben) ended up in the hospital. After he went in with a severe headache, they discovered a tumor on his pituitary gland. They finally operated this afternoon (they had to wait until after the MRI that they did yesterday), and the surgery was successful (they removed the gland - and they are almost certain it is not cancer), but it made for a stressful yom tov.

His older sister (also my cousin - naturally) is the one who lives up the block from my parents with her husband and three kids. She spent all of yom tov near the hospital, and therefore away from the aforementioned husband and three kids. They were all supposed to be at my uncle's for yom tov, but he was, of course, near/at the hospital as well.

So my cousin's husband decided that he and the three kids would be better off staying in their own house if already they would be on their own - which, incidentally, meant they spent most of yom tov in my parents' house. (One of the big reasons why he made this decision - there were half a dozen free babysitters down the block...)

Anyway, take three kids who are a handful on a good day with both parents around, add in a last-minute change in yom tov plans, a parent who is away to be with an uncle who is suddenly sick, two days of yom tov, and the end of a week in which the kids have eaten almost nothing because none of them like Pesach food...

Yes, chaos is a very good word for it.

The entire first floor of our house became one big playroom, the cooking took twice as long - the kids love to cook - and we went through insane quantities of ice cream and chocolate chips - even the colorful ones that my mother thought were disgusting. Especially those.

It made me appreciate my family once again. I thought it was great that my cousin's husband was able to get to shul both days (remember, free babysitting) and that we not only had them over for lunch both days, but sent dinner up the block when the kids were asleep. And we got the kids to eat at least a little bit. And we all somehow got in naps of our own - in shifts - and today even the kids sort of napped... (the youngest, who turned two in November looked so cute curled up in the armchair with a mini pillow and airplane blanket, holding her sippy cup as she slept)

and somehow, despite the chaos, it felt so normal - because, of course, our house is as natural to them as their own. They even know how to get their own cereal - well, not this week - but the point is, we are used to having them around - though not usually for an entire day at once, two days in a row - and they are used to being around. Plus, it's harder to get stressed and worried when there are three kids in various states of 8th day of Pesach crankiness (actually, they were remarkably un-cranky) all clamoring for attention (again, this may be a slight exaggeration, partly because we had a very favorable caregiver to child ratio with myself, two siblings, a guest, plus my parents and their father).

And if we were all going to be stressed and worried, it's always better to do it together.

Plus, there was this added element of strangeness knowing that the 7th day was my grandfather's first yartzeit and the 8th day was yizkor, so life and death and all that was on our minds - or at least on mine - and to add on top of that the knowledge that my cousin is in the hospital, and that we knew he was having surgery but didn't know when or what was going on - and we knew that we weren't going to know until after yom tov unless something went drastically wrong - well, it was strange. To have those two things juxtaposed was very strange. Almost a bit surreal. The question loomed large in my mind: what if he died?

And Ben is my age. Which somehow makes it even stranger.

Anyway, so things were eventful and chaotic, and there was stuff going on - but somehow, it wasn't exactly bad. Ben is going to take a while to recover, of course, since they need to get his hormones back in balance and such, but in terms of how yom tov itself went, well, it wasn't restful, and it wasn't what we expected, but it was still good to see the kids - which we weren't supposed to - and it was good to be with family. And we had a meal out with the friends who couldn't come to lunch last year (again, see last year's entry) - who invited us precisely to make up for the meal they had to miss after my grandfather died. And somehow, when yom tov ended, it felt like it had been good - just different. I am not sure if the rest of my family would agree - especially my mom, who had to do a lot more this yom tov than she had planned on - but that was the feeling I was left with.

Oh, and for those who daven for people, Ben's Hebrew name is Yitzhak Liron ben Tzirel Leah

Happy chametz
taylweaver: (Default)
= very giggly [livejournal.com profile] taylweaver.

And that was only the first sedder. Somehow, a few more hours of sleep and one less cup of wine (we weren't done yet) on the following night was still enough to set me off - though I did have a little help from [livejournal.com profile] mbarr on that one... and my brother kicking me under the table wasn't exactly going to make things better...

Not my most reverent hallel.

The seddarim were good - and blessedly uneventful, as those of you who recall last year's Pesach happenings will understand. (Granted, that was mostly the last days of Pesach, but still...)

Funny, I think I began this LJ about a year ago now - Pesach was one of my first entries.

Anyway, I was not the only exhausted one at the first sedder. I think that must have been the most pathetic Nirtza ever - none of us had energy to sing. I think my sister captured the mood perfectly when, at 11:30, as we were nearing the very end, she asked, in a very plaintive tone, "Do we have to sing chad gadya?" The rest of us definitely shared her sentiment, but sing it we did, though not with much spirit.

Even on the second night, we were tired enough to lose track of which verse we were up to in half the songs - who knows one, chad gadya, etc.

But they were still wonderful seddarim, and the three days flew by - maybe because I spent so much time napping.

Hooray for time off - even if I feel like there is *nothing* I can eat for a week...
taylweaver: (Default)
Four hours.

That's how much sleep I got last night.

After five hours the night before. And the night before that as well.

I am totally going to fall asleep in the chicken soup this evening. Or at least on the busride home...

I know it's been a while - I have had a busy few weeks. Hugs to those who deserve them - you know who you are - and thanks to those who gave me the support I needed these past few weeks - a different kind of hug goes out to you - and again, you know who you are.

And, of course, chag kasher v'sameach to all who are celebrating.

Bissli

Apr. 26th, 2005 08:09 pm
taylweaver: (Default)
So I walked into the local kosher food store on a quest for salad dressing and snack food this morning, and what should I find? Bissli!

You'd think, the ultimate of chametz. After all, the package itself advertises its contents as "wheat snacks." (or something like that.)

But then I look closer, somewhat confused, and I find that the package says O-U P. I check the ingredients. The very first one? Matzoh meal! Who knew?

At any rate, it was a pleasant - if fattening - surprise.

On a more frustrating note, did you know it costs less to do one-hour developing in the store at CVS than it does to send the film out? The only problem: they can't do the photo CD in the store. So here I am, stuck paying the extra $$.
taylweaver: (Default)
There were many tidbits that I have been waiting to post, and so, despite the late hour, here goes:

First: Why is this Pesach different from all other Pesachs?

1) Instead of my parents selling my chametz for me, I sold theirs.
My father's comment: Well, that's a role reversal! (This is much paraphrased)

2) My great-aunt was not able to make her two signature dishes: a) tsimmes (carrot and sweet potato stew, pretty much) and b) floemen (prunes) and potatoes. For the first sedder, my dad had time to make the tsimmes, but not the floemen and potatoes. Over the phone erev Pesach, he told me that he and my mother made Matzoh Kugel instead (same recipe we use all year, only replace egg noodles with matzoh farfel).
My response: Isn't matzoh kugel the exact opposite of floemen and potatoes?
(If you didn't get that, think for a minute about the main ingredients in these dishes.)

3) We had so many people at our sedder that we had to have an auxiliary table. I'd call it a kids table, but it wasn't - the real kids were at the main table - as were some people the same age as those at the extra table. I guess you could call it the kids-of-the-immediate-family-and-their-guests table. Or the "ha,ha, we actually have some air circulation" table. At first, I was bothered that we were not seated with the other 24 people at our sedder, but in the end, it worked out just fine. We could still see the main table, and participate fully. And then, on the second night, we were honored to be able to sit at the main table by the end - because half of the guests went home early!

Second: A few impressive numbers:

When I called home before Pesach, my mother said to me, "Listen, I want to let you in on the reality [in terms of sedder numbers]" And I was expecting her to say that, after all these years, the relatives in South Jersey were too old to travel and that we'd have about ten of us at the sedder. Nope. Quite the opposite. The number she gave me: 34. I was floored. Granted, that was over two nights - we had 30 each night, but there were four who only came the first night, and four who only came the second.

And another impressive number: Of those 30 people who came each night, 8 were sleeping in our house, 1 around the corner, and 10 were at my cousin's house up the block - which means that 19 people walked to our seder (for some of us, that meant walking downstairs, but there are benefits to being the hosts). That means that less than half of our seder guests drove - which is pretty good for my family. And to have 19 people attend a sedder without driving sounds pretty impressive to me.

Third: An interesting thing I learned

Sometimes, it is actually possible to say that a little girl's mouth ran into a grown man's fist and mean that this is actually what happened. For those of you who know who my sedder guest was, you will understand how it is impossible for it to have been the other way around. This was actually a perfectly innocent accident. And after the crying, there was ice cream, and that made everything better. Even post-injury, my friend was a rather popular guest among the little kids.

I am sure there is more that I am forgetting, but even after all the sleeping I got to do, I think it is time to go do some more.

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