why is this night the same as all other nights?

i’m just venting to myself today, while everyone else is off having their big passover gatherings with family and friends. this must be how non-jews feel when it’s christmas and nobody’s there. there’s no point having a seder with 1 1/2 persons. (not sure who the 1/2 is.) even elijah has livelier places to drink!

it’s not like i’m surprised, or even let down that much, since it’s much like the rest of the year. for days i prepared, and cleaned, and created a whole holiday menu, including the ceremonial seder plate items, etc., and of course my brother went out a short time before dinner (he said he had to ‘work’–? on foot?). so as usual it was just my mother compliantly eating her bird-portions. i was so prepared that we were done when most people would have just been starting the long seder. then i cleaned up for hours. my brother didn’t even eat the leftovers later.

and this was me ‘keeping it simple’, not even the whole ‘changing over’ ordeal, although i went out of my way to make things festive. i cleaned out some dark corners of the kitchen that hadn’t seen the light of day for years. there were old food items from the ancient pyramids (still preserved by toxic ingredients). even the birds and squirrels weren’t buying it. i bought some new kitchen linens. i polished the silver. i shopped for weeks, swapped out the chametz with pesach foods, and started preparing the meal the day before. simple. if i had changed over everything, i’d still be doing it a year from now. the absurdity is obvious.

i guess on the positive side, i feel like something was accomplished, and the house isn’t quite as unclean as before. and tonight’s ‘unseder’ is easy: just add a couple of other holiday dishes to the assortment of leftovers. i cleverly left out several courses that nobody could digest even back when we had actual eaters in attendance. and the rest of the week is just thinking up ingenious ways to reconfigure matzoh products into recipes NOT involving yet another chicken. and of course, i made my unchallenged world-famous charoset, which is what pesach is really all about! it’s our own unique family tradition.

a year ago, my father died just before passover. so i guess that was technically worse, although ironically the result was that all of us, gathered in panic mode, were here to make a seder together. weirdly, i have fond memories of that, all of us in the kitchen chopping things, even calling a charoset truce in a spirit of solidarity! now, a year later, it feels a bit anticlimactic. not to mention that it’s been a while since i’ve seen my son and family, let alone enjoyed a seder with them. my d-i-l reminded me that at least i have it simple! very true. while they were frantically scrambling to get ready for a big gathering of family and friends, i was already winding down from a non-event. i’m not sure which is preferable. maybe she’s right.

after all, i’m the one famous for saying ‘keep it simple’. and for questioning how pesach evolved from a rabble of poor slaves escaping with essentially the clothes on their backs (ok, and maybe a bunch of egyptian valuables that they made off with) and some hastily-made flatbreads, to a lavish extravaganza of rules and regulations that only affluent people can possibly afford. there’s that place in the seder where we invite all who are needy to come in and join us, like THAT would ever happen in a typical jewish fortress! what we buy and eat for one week out of the year could feed the whole middle east!

well. anyway, i got that out of my system. i suppose the real point here is that there’s never a way to be prepared for this season in one’s life, when all the old familiar guidelines go out the window, and you find yourself alone, picking up the pieces and trying to come up with a new ‘normal’. in that sense, you could say, this night IS different.

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