Monday, March 29, 2010
Welcome to the Matzoh Ball
Tonight is the first seder. I’ve been cooking and cleaning for weeks. Even the recent Noreaster that tore through my town and left me without power for five days couldn’t put a dent in my holiday spirit. I confess I was momentarily panicked when the lights first went out. I had gallons of chicken soup in the freezer. I could put up with reading by candlelight, freezing showers, and indoor temps of 40 degrees. But lose my soup? Heck no. Thankfully a friend had an extra refrigerator in her basement, an empty freezer, and best of all, power. Passover was saved.
This year we are having 25 family and friends join us for the first seder, 14 for the second one. It’s a bit daunting, but the part that keeps me going is the joy and love I feel when I look around the room. I delight in all the singing, praying, laughing, and eating! I kvell, Yiddish for swoon, at the wide-eyed enchantment on the faces of the children.
The search for the Afikomen (a piece of matzoh that is hidden during the seder) is one of the highlights of the night. The matzoh is put in a little pouch, made by one of my sons when he was in nursery school, and then hidden by the adults. Once the kids find it, they hold it “ransom” because according to tradition, we cannot complete the seder without it. “Heavy duty negotiating” ensues, until a “fair price” is set – usually either a few dollars or a small gift. As the kids get older, you’ll see the teenagers “help” the younger ones hold out for a good prize. My husband and I often joke that we knew two of our sons would be good lawyers given their Afikomen negotiating skills!
And the food – Oy, the food. Five courses and my kids would seriously object if I attempted to eliminate any of them – even if they personally don’t eat some of the delicacies. Two of my four wouldn’t touch a piece of gefilte fish with a six-foot pole, yet they’d be the first to express horror at the very concept of omitting that course from the seder menu. Listening to my kids, I can almost hear the chorus from Fiddler on the Roof singing “Tradition!” I ask you, Stiletto Faithful, regardless of which holidays you observe, do your children cling more to tradition than you do?
And it’s not just the age-old traditions. I mean the ones that I added a couple of times over the years and have now been informed are set in concrete. Luckily, I looked back at my blog from two years ago and found a recipe for Persian Charoset – something I had entirely forgotten, but which son number two told me was always a family tradition (um, what family was he in?). Anyway, I’m making it, as always!
All best wishes for a Zissen Pesach (a sweet Passover) – and a wondrous spring.
Marian (the matzoh ball-making Northern Half of Evelyn David)
Murder Off the Books by Evelyn David
Murder Takes the Cake by Evelyn David