I have a few moments after a busy morning.
Julia took a long bath and then settled into working on our virus-designated puzzle. No real work has been done on it since our house guest of a few weeks ago left. I’ve fiddled some nights but I am pretty dismal at putting pieces together. After bathing, I ask Julia what she was doing and she said the puzzle. I let her be. About an hour later, the outside pieces of the puzzle finally all fit together and a significant swath of the dragon fire was done.
I spent the morning getting ready for tonight’s Seder. We are zooming with Cheshire and Justin at their home and a few young friends, each in their respective homes. Cheshire sent directions and this year’s Haggadah. We have a tradition of writing or putting together our own Haggadah each year following what David did for years. This year version is more serious, perhaps a three Kleenex affair, and reflective of our circumstances. I approve. It is sad to have moved so far to be together on celebrations like this and still be apart. It is sad to have hoped for a big gathering and to have to make do with two of us sitting in front of my laptop. Still, we gather to be together and nurture joy.
I made pot roast—I could not find any sort of brisket last week—and strignbeans for dinner, Charoset for the reading. Cheshire made the matzoh ball soup. Midday we have drop off and exchange while maintaining safe distances.
I set our small kitchen table with linen, good wind glasses and the Seder plate that Cheshire made at JCC when she was little. I intended to show it off to what would have been our big gathering.
Mixing the apples and nuts with grape Manischewitz, I opened the twist top and the cloyingly sweet aroma of that purple elixir reaches my nose. I debated buying the bottle and rationalized the purchase—nothing else tastes like the Charoset that David and I usually made. I got rid of a dusty half bottle of it before I moved not sure how old it was. It is extravagant to buy even a cheap bottle of wine to be used a half cup at at time once a year, but with one twist how many olfactory memories were released?
Our seders, many in Indianapolis, some in the East Village and one in Park Slope—so many friends singing tipsy Dayenu’s and reading David’s Haggahdas. There was a year of “Who wants to be a matzoh millionaire?” and wearing old slouch hats—a newish answer to the ‘why is this night different from all other nights?’ The years before our seders, we drove to Jersey and once to Long Island for family gatherings. For a few I was the newcomer who didn’t understand what was going on and one year when Cheshire was not quite 2, I spent the evening out of the dining room with a toddler who did not yet value ritual.
Two years ago, I hosted my first seder in Madison after a long time making do with the community UU gatherings. A big table, lots of friends, everyone bringing a dish and kids to enjoy the Passover story in play form and a robust afikoman hunt. The light in the living room at sunset and twilight mixed with candlelight making magic.
And tonight will be another so very different night from all other nights
The final toast, next year in . . . . , doesn’t need to be an exotic Jerusalem. Next year, together, in person, in a dining room sitting shoulder to should around an overcrowded table would be more than sufficient. Dayenu!