It’s Passover once again. The holiday celebrates the Jews’ passage out of exile in Egypt. As a kid, I actually enjoyed this holiday very much. My mom would stay up into the wee hours of the night and change EVERYTHING in the kitchen. She would get rid of food that wasn’t Kosher for Passover, clean the appliances and cabinets, and change the dishes and silverware so that everything was Kosher for the holiday. And while she did all that work, we would talk about life. The next day we would have Seder with my huge family and retell the story of Exodus. Although it meant going to shul for a few hours in the morning, I would even be allowed to stay home from school. Yeah, I really have fond memories of Passover as a kid!
Fast forward thirty or so years. I’m now a mom in my own rite. While I don’t go to the great lengths to prepare for Passover the way my mom did, we do observe it. I do my big Spring clean and give the kitchen a good once-over. I buy Kosher for Passover food and we celebrate with two Seders just as we did when I was little. After my mom passed away in 2003, Passover became very difficult. Passover and Mom were synonymous and celebrating the first one without her just about killed me. I remember the one right before she passed away. She had just had her mastectomy and while she and my dad were home, Vince, Joey, Baby Debbie and I went to my aunt’s house. I spent Seder in the family room trying to console Debbie. She was a few weeks old at best and very colicy. Like I said before, my family was very large and when we gathered in one space it could get noisy…fast. Looking back, I am positive that Debbie’s itty-bitty senses were overloaded and that’s why she was so miserable. This was also the first of many Passovers that I began to dread.
From that point on Passover became my least favorite holiday for many years to come. Something was always up with Debbie. When she was an infant she would cry uncontrollably. When she was a toddler she had to be chased everywhere and supervised more than the other children. When she was a small child, not only was she still in need of close supervision, but she would also most certainly have GI issues and accidents during Seder. Passover became code for accidents. She was miserable. I was miserable. Passover definitely wasn’t the holiday that I fondly recalled. Then something changed within the past years or so.
Debbie matured a little. All of a sudden she started sitting for the Seder for longer periods of time. Last year she started reading out of the Haggadah a little bit and this year, she read even more, sat for the whole Seder, and tried some of the traditional foods! She still makes noises and talks sometimes but nothing that can’t be met with a soft, “Shh.” Debbie is interested in what is going on around her and even understands that she has to sacrifice her normal foods (Oreo Cookies!) until the holiday ends. Watching Debbie participate and share in our Jewish traditions fills me with naches – pride and joy. And while Mom has been gone for awhile, I know that she is smiling upon us and is as proud of Debbie as I am! Yeah, Passover has once again become a great holiday!