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Host and Be Hosted

When I say, “Make yourself at home,” I mean, “Feel free to unpack your lens solution”

Illustrations by Esti Friedman Saposh

Host and Be Hosted

This is a message to those people who think that packing up your family (yes, even you with your lovely brood of 12, kein ayin hara) expends the same mental, physical, and emotional energy as hosting Yom Tov, especially when that specific Yom Tov is preceded by a scrubbing marathon.

That message is: Your opinion is wrong.

Hosts and hostees submit their questions:

As soon as she pulled into my driveway Erev Yom Tov, I sweetly told my sister-in-law to make herself at home. Next thing I know she’s pounding out onion-garlic potato chips that she brought to make her kids some impromptu schnitzel. How do I make it clear that by “make yourself at home” I meant “you may place your lens solution on the guest bathroom ledge” and that’s pretty much it?

There’s the hard way of doing things and there’s the easy way. The hard way would be sitting her down and gently explaining to her that you invited her for Yom Tov to kvell about your kitchen skills, not for her to engage in any cooking of her own. The easy way would be to frantically exclaim that your kid developed an allergy to onion-garlic potato chips, and accept her apologies like the gracious hostess you are.

I’m going away for Yom Tov, and I graciously allowed my neighbor to use my empty fridge for her tinfoil pan overflow. On Erev Yom Tov alone, the security camera app on my phone was buzzing like a restaurant pager to alert me to the various goings-on in my living room, which I soon realized had become the primary chill scene of the block. I caught snippets of audio such as “Why did she even buy this house? I saw on Zillow they overpaid by at least 50k,” and “Ew, this backsplash,” and “Clean that off the couch! Oh well, who gets a white couch?” I guess my question is, is it geneivas daas to not tell them the cameras are on?

Very simple: Use the speakerphone function to say “Hi, Mrs. Fried! If you’re looking for your Esther Leah, she’s crying in the middle bathroom in the attic,” and hope they get the message. If not, there’s always the option to “accidentally” set your house alarm to get triggered as soon as the next person opens the front door.

This year we’re going to be traveling on Chol Hamoed by car for 14 hours, and our ETA to Lakewood is 2 a.m. I would never want to be matri’ach anyone, but my twins will be ravenous, so I’m planning on packing a kugel in dry ice to warm up when we get there. (We don’t do packaged food on Pesach, so the options for in-car snacks are basically bananas and hard-boiled eggs.) Do you think I should tap on my father’s door to ask if he wants a piece?

As that is a direct violation of the Shulchan Aruch, no. But if the smell of freshly heated kugel and the sweet sound of his grandchildren loudly freaking out about being transferred from car to house wafts up into his room and he happens to wander downstairs to join the party of his own accord, also no. If you’re packing dry ice, you can also pack a battery-operated generator and a Betty Crocker to make your dinner arrangements in the car.

My in-laws don’t eat any vegetables that happen to be sold in the same grocery aisle as garlic. So if they shop at Kosher Gourmet, that’s potatoes, carrots, and apples. If they shop at Kosher Kingdom, that’s onions, tomatoes, and zucchini. All I want after a long hard day of being a guest whose children never fight in public is a package of those neon sugared fruit slices that I look forward to all year, and I’m fighting over potatoes?

The solution is simple. Get to their local store at 6 a.m. every day of the pre-Yom Tov shopping season and wheel the whole garlic display over to the cleaning supplies aisle. Allow chaos to ensue. Help yourself to candy.

My sisters and brothers and I all go to my parents every Pesach, and it’s a struggle to find a way to pitch in with the prep since none of us turn over our kitchens. My sister sets up a table in her garage so she can make salads. My sister-in-law bought four crockpots and set them up in her laundry room so she could make soups and meats.  My younger sister volunteered to camp out overnight at Trader Joe’s so she gets the best hydrangeas available as soon as they open. The only job left is figuring out if we need a yaknehaz candle (we do). I know there will be complaints about me not pulling my weight. Help!

Pull your weight in the way that truly makes an impact: Stalk Metziahs.com for weeks before Yom Tov until you find an expanded Magnatile set on sale and deliver the gift of occupied kids to the entire extended family. Become universally beloved. Start a blog with similar life hacks and support your family with the instant millions.

My brand-new son-in-law is here! Little problem: He’s been standing over my shoulder all day watching me shake black pepper into the yapchik with his eyebrow raised high, and when I finally asked him if he forgot to tell me that his minhag is not to use spices, he said “No, I just think you’re under-seasoning that flanken.” How do I break it to my daughter that she married a back-seat cooker??

Chances are, she already knows. This is a teaching moment: Show her exactly how to create vitally important “errands” for the menfolk to do on Erev Yom Tov. As in, “Could you please toivel this new toothbrush cup, but only in the keilim mikveh across town that conveniently has a two-hour line and charges for sticker removal?” Oh, it’s Lucite? Whoops!

We couldn’t make Pesach without them.

The cousins are all wearing their brand-new white linen Pesach clothes (you know those were purchased in December if my sister managed to find all their sizes in the same outfit), and my kids are not exactly thrilled that I still have them in winter clothes. I do not control the weather, which is currently clocking in at a cool 37 ̊ F. Okay fine, this might be stemming from my own personal insistence on wearing black tights. We need to be consistent, right?

This is a humor column, and not the forum for very serious and legitimate life questions. Please ask your family’s mashpia.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 789)

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