As I sit here typing the house is silent. But the walls echo with the hustle and bustle and noise that four rambunctious and healthy boys generate. They left not too long ago to stay the second half of Pesach with their other parent, and while part of me relishes the silence, a bigger part of me misses them so much already.
Erev Chag was a maelstrom of preparation – laundry needed to get done, cooking needed to be done, and all the extra stuff for the Seder had to be prepared. I knew what needed to be done, but kept the list in my head as it would just have been way too overwhelming to see it written down in print! It is so incredible that no matter how much time you have to prepare for Shabbat or a holiday you are always busy until the last minute.
But the eggs got boiled (2 dozen), the potatoes peeled and mashed, two types of baked chicken, the chicken soup with matzah balls was cooking by 7 am. (well the soup was, the matzah balls didn’t get boiled till much later). Vegetables were chopped, horseradish was grated (OMG it was a killer on the eyes but boy did it clear out those stuffy sinuses!!), charoset prepared…. And the pyromaniac in me totally enjoyed burning the shank bone and the egg for the Seder plate.
Slowly but surely the whirling dervish in the kitchen got it all together, and even managed to take a nap like everyone else in the household before the holiday. (well, until the phone rang – but it was time to get up anyway I guess.) I would like to say that I wasn’t cranky or tetchy or anything at all remotely resembling those states of mind, but I am sure I was just a teeny bit stressed….(KoD you can weigh in here….or perhaps not lol)
I was convinced that I had gained myself some time by setting the Seder table the night before, but I don’t think it made the slightest bit of difference logistically. It did however make me feel good Tuesday night that something was accomplished.
SO finally, everyone was showered and dressed in their Yom Tov suits, and all the boys happily trooped off to shul with the KoD. [Yes, even Hopalong Squigs went with. He is now walking unassisted, no cane nor crutches, and has been doing amazingly well.]
I actually had 60 minutes of time to myself to just sit and decompress before the crazy evening ahead. It was to be just the 6 of us for Seder, so there was less pressure.
They arrived home from shul pumped up and ready to start. Prince HockeyFan had been practicing his Mah Nishtanah all day long – he said it in Pig Latin. (for more languages go here), so he was chomping at the bit to get started.
The KoD took his place at the head of our table, and it just seemed so right and natural for him to be there, as if he had been there every year since the beginning of time. He sat there in his kittel that he wore for our wedding – that added to the joy I felt at that moment. We hadn’t had a Seder in our house in a few years, and it was just so awesome to have my KoD lead two Sedarim chez nous this year.
We were not interested in rushing the Seder, but we didn’t want to drag it out too long – the kids still find it tough to stay up past 11 o’clock. But they had all made Haggadot in school, and learned hundreds of Divrei Torah that they had wanted to share with us. The KoD had plenty that he wanted to share too, as he had spent hours in the days before the holiday with his head in the sefarim (books) that deal with Pesach and the Seder and the laws and traditions etc. Luckily for me I didn’t have to change my way of doing things, I just learned more through him. And luckily for the both of us our Pesach traditions are more or less the same. (oh and my matzah brei passed the test too, phew!!)
KoD instituted a point system that he had the kids prepare Erev Chag. For every question they answered correctly they got either 5, 10 or 15 points depending on difficulty of question. (and yes apparently I got bonus points for my soup). This really helped in keeping them motivated and involved. Prince Chatterbox was so excited with every point he earned.
Every child said the Mah Nishtanah in the language of their choice. I said it in Ladino, Prince HockeyFan in Pig Latin (how kosher is that at the seder table??), Prince ChatterBox said in Hebrew, Prince Lenny said it in Vietnamese (did an admirable job) and Prince Squiggy sang a different tune in Hebrew that was just beautiful. The second night more languages were attempted – and much hilarity ensued!
(I still have to write my own version of the Four Sons, obviously personalized to my bunch. Somehow, “Wise, Evil, Simple, Unable to Ask”, don’t apply to them – they are all WISE (and don’t tell me I am a biased Jewish Mama!!!))
It seems as I get older the Maggid section of the Haggadah indeed gets shorter, no matter how much explanation goes on. I remember being a kid and counting the pages until the maror, because that meant it was a few short minutes until FOOD!! By that point I was starving because there was never anything decent to eat Erev Yom Tov. Before I knew it we were at the Maror part, and my biggest boy wanted to have a lot of grated horseradish – I guess because he is now “a man” he wanted a man-size portion. He did well. But I think even though grating the horseradish caused tremendous distress to yours truly, it was a weak one. Nobody’s face turned puce during the eating of it. One thing I hadn’t known that KoD brought to my attention is that it is actually forbidden to eat actual chunks of Horseradish as it can be very dangerous to a person. It cannot be a mitzvah if it is dangerous. That’s why we grate it. I hadn’t known that. (From the Mishnah Brurah)
Soon enough it was meal time and by the end of the meal there were only 2 boys left at the table. The others stayed up for soup and matzah balls – filled their bellies, and trotted off to bed.
We finished both Sedarim by 12:30 – with one kid making it through. First night it was Prince ChatterBox (amazing) and second night was Prince Lenny.
First day Yom Tov when I got to shul the KoD approached me and told me that Prince HockeyFan appeared to have a fever. On closer inspection I ascertained that he indeed was burning up. Poor thing, to be sick on Pesach. I took him over to where we would be eating lunch, just down the street, and we dosed him up with Advil. Within half an hour he had been reborn – he was chatting and being his normal self. Incredible what that medicine can do. He had fever for most of the rest of Yom Tov, unfortunately, but so long as we kept him on the Advil he was ok. He got to have extra cuddles from his Ima while the rest of the male people were at shul – that can’t be all bad can it?
The rest of Yom Tov passed in a blur of food, delicious yummy food – we ate out the rest of the meals. We spent a lot of time visiting with friends and family, and plenty of going to shul.
In the past, a three day Yom Tov / Shabbat was cause for me gnashing my teeth and wringing my hands. This year it was just totally awesome, to spend it with five of my favourite men. The KoD made the Sedarim just totally amazing and meaningful, and my boys reminded me again of just how well behaved they are, and how loving and caring and just sweet they can be.
Because of their good behaviour and the points they scored during the Seder we rewarded them with a trip to the War Museum in Ottawa – something that they had been begging for for days and days. They had been there before – but had wanted to go again. KoD loves that kind of stuff too – so it was a great idea for all the boyz to have the fun that they wanted.
It was a two hour drive from our home, but the kids had fun watching their new favourite series on the DVD players in the car. Hogan’s Heroes. I have never watched it in my life, but apparently I missed out. We spent a great amount of time in the war museum, the kids were just so fascinated with everything they saw. Boys, war, tanks, guns, soldiers…….they were in heaven. Our last stop in the war museum was the tank room. This vast room housed dozens of military vehicles – tanks, self-propelled howitzers, motorcycles, etc. I think the kids would have been happy to move in there for week. By this point I was beyond bored – it is so not my thing, but I was thrilled that 5 of my favourite males were having such a great time. Each one of the boys thanked both the KoD and me profusely for taking them there. They had a great time!
That is our Pesach so far – another 3 and a half days left, days which for the KoD and I will be a lot quieter, but still very special, for we will be together.