| The Next Chapter |

Leaving the Competition    

I have no guests this year. I’ve been invited to share the Sedorim with my children at their home


Purim 5784 is long gone. There is still one mini challah from Mrs. Levine, who lives around the corner and always sends her homemade sweet challah. I hid the pareve bittersweet chocolate bar for Shabbos, and the five mini Snapples (clearly the drink of choice or on sale this year) should be finished soon.

It’s time to look forward to the next gift from the One Above, the Yom Tov of Pesach. I will dispense with the possible negative rhetoric that sometimes accompanies that statement, and enumerate only positive and excited thoughts. I love my Pesach china, with its dark red-and-gold trim. It comes with every possible size dish, mini dessert dishes, stunning teapot, creamer, and sugar, and every size and shape of serving bowls and platters. My flatware is my grandmother’s from Europe, with oversized soup spoons that seem more appropriate as serving spoons, and, of course, it carries the memories of all the Sedorim growing up in my parents’ house. Then there are the lists — every year I’m certain I’d written it all down, recording just how much matzah I used, and how many gallons of vegetable oil I needed for the never-ending frying. I’m sure I made the list, but where did I put it? Time to take out a new shiny notebook and start my what-to-clean, when-to-clean, what-to-buy, when-to-buy, what-to-cook, and when-to-cook lists!

But wait! I’m not making the Sedorim; I have no guests this year. I’ve been invited to share the Sedorim with my children at their home. The calendar does not give my Israeli family enough time to travel back for their commitments in Israel. So why is it that I’m not relieved that no lists are required? What of the competition regarding how many pounds of potatoes, how many dozens of eggs, how many gallons of oil, how many cases of onions? I can’t even enter. I’m not sure if four kosher l’Pesach yogurts and maybe a dozen eggs for Erev Yom Tov even qualify for an entry form!

It will be very special to hear grandchildren say the Mah Nishtanah. The older ones have prepared divrei Torah and of course, I can’t wait for the seemingly never-determined discussion of how many k’zeisim are correct for real horseradish versus romaine lettuce. All will bring me much joy and nachas. But I picture the beautiful tablecloth my husband bought the year the table had to be expanded and nothing we had would fit. Then there are the milchig Corelle dishes with the blue trim and, okay, little kittens in the design. (It was on sale and is so perfect for Pesach!) No point emptying the Pesach cabinets of all the zippered plastic cases with the dishes for Erev Yom Tov and perhaps Chol Hamoed at home. Paper will be so much more practical. And the three-tier Seder plate — do I unwrap it and take it with me?

Cease and desist! Yom Tov is about simchah and light… so why am I feeling that I’m not quite there? Is it just that change marks the end of an era? Or am I suffering from a Jewish homemaker identity crisis? There will be no battle scars from splattered oil or nicked fingers from a chopping session gone awry. Is it mostly my ego that needs the yearly challenge (and opportunity to kvetch) about the number of chocolate lebens that were consumed? Do I need that dopamine high during the brief post-chometz removal, when the counters are pristine, the sinks sparkling, before the Pesach covering and lining begins. (A moment not to be repeated until eight days later, about three hours after Havdalah, when the opposite transition begins.)

I will take down a few of the special Haggados that have wine stains and precious memories on so many pages and pack them up to take with me. Of course, I will try to bring sweet Pesach treats, and I’ll add some new games or books to my very significantly shortened shopping list.

But far more important, I will relish the joy of watching new memories being created: their beautiful table, their approach to the Haggadah, and even different tunes for the reading of the Haggadah.

I will have a different kind of wonderful Yom Tov… attitude, attitude, attitude that is mine to determine. “Ivdu es Hashem b’simchah” is the commandment, and all the mitzvos that we do must be accompanied by happiness and gratitude for the brachos we do have, even if in a new setting, in a different role… in the Next Chapter.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 889)

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