It’s a bit strange and kind of scary to admit that I – at the ripe old age of fifty-two – have never had to make Passover. For all these years, I’ve been able to get away with just showing up (somewhere) and participating with exuberance. I’ve really enjoyed that role…a lot.
The locations where our Seders have been held over the years have varied. From my earliest memories, they were at my grandparents’ home in Boston. Later they were in New York at my parents’ or my aunt’s and uncle’s. As time went on, they alternated between Florida and New York. A few times, we even celebrated in Israel. But, wherever they were held, they always included some combination of grandparents, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, generations of cousins, in-laws, and friends. And who leads our Seders? My grandfather, father, or brother – depending upon where we are or who is present in any given year.
Despite the many places and people who comprise my Passover experiences, I never questioned the fact that my grandmother, mother, aunt, sister or sister-in-law was in charge of the menu and took the lead on food preparation. Now, don’t get me wrong. I contribute. I hang out in the kitchen with the girls, do anything asked of me, and willingly play the part of The Taster. My big job? I usually am in charge of setting the table.
But not this year.
It started about a month ago with a phone call. “Mom, I don’t think we can travel to Florida or New York for Seder this year. We all have new jobs and simply can’t take off three days to go somewhere.” Oh, wow, I thought, Passover is going to suck without my kids being there. “So, Mom,” my child continued, “we think you and Dad should come make Passover with us in Chicago.” Huh?!?!?! Stunned, I didn’t know how to respond at first. I couldn’t quite process what I thought I heard…make…Passover…in Chicago….?
I felt trapped. Did I even have a choice of going to be with my parents and grandparents – or to my brother and his family – over being with my own children? Of course not. I took a deep breath, let the idea gradually wash over me, and agreed. We would make our own Seder this year. And though it makes no sense, I’m a nervous wreck. (Hey, the only holiday I can make entirely on my own is Thanksgiving!)
For the first time ever, I’ve been perusing cookbooks and sites online for Passover recipes; saving favorites in my Dropbox. I have a draft of Seder menus sketched out on my iPad. My husband has been doing search on “Kosher for Passover” red wines. We have seven different Haggadahs spread out on our kitchen table (and one downloaded to our Kindle app) to create a meaningful version for our debut at the head of the table. And, my never-used Lenox Seder plate and Elijah’s Cup are packed and ready to go.
And so it starts. My daughter, son, daughter-in-law-to-be, a few of their friends, and we are going to have Passover together. I didn’t envision this happening until they were all married with children of their own, but here we are about to embark on a new family tradition. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to this. Starting Monday night, around the Seder table, we will begin making new memories of our own.