Tonight we celebrated Passover for the first time in our new home. Last year we weren’t able to celebrate it at all because we were living apart–EJ was living in in a motel while he started a new job and looked for a house for us. JJ was with him. I remained at our old house taking care of the pets and packing in preparation for our move. The year before that we had a very simple Passover at JJ’s bedside as he fought cancer. It was nice to finally have a real celebration again.
I felt kind of scatterbrained this year because, as I said, it’s been awhile since we’ve been able to celebrate Passover. I kept forgetting items I needed. For example, on Wednesday I realized that I had no horseradish, so EJ and I went to the store to buy some. Thursday I realized, “Oh, no! I need walnuts for the charoset,” so I went back to the store again. Today I discovered, “Yikes! I have no parsley!” so when JJ got home from college, I drove to the store and bought some. I also bought a colorful bouquet of flowers to beautify our table. I really don’t ever buy flowers, but they were so beautiful and I decided that I really wanted our table to be beautiful. With all my running to the store, it’s a good thing the store is very close.
And then as I was setting the table tonight, I couldn’t find our shank bone, which is used to symbolize the sacrificial lamb. I thought creatively, “Well, I can just get a bone from the chicken, which was cooking in the roasting oven. However, just before I called the guys to the table, I saw that the chicken wasn’t done enough to pull out a bone. By the time we got to the actual dinner, the chicken was roasted perfectly but we had to pretend we had a bone for the seder. EJ ad-libbed, “And our imaginary bone symbolizes….” and we laughed. Earlier in the day Danny had found a deer bone in the forest, and we joked that he had been trying to provide us with the bone for our seder.
Probably none of this makes sense if you’ve never celebrated Passover. Passover is the retelling of the Exodus story, but in a way that involves your senses. Every item on the special seder plate has a deep meaning that is enhanced by seeing, telling/hearing, and tasting that helps participants experience the truths of the Exodus. (There is an interactive site where you can learn about the items on the seder plate and their symbolism here.) For example, parsley dipped into a bowl of salt water is a reminder of the tears caused by slavery and the green of the parsley represents freedom and new life. Horseradish brings tears to the eyes and recalls the bitterness of slavery. Our horseradish this year was so potent that it really did bring tears to our eyes when we ate it–as well as caused us to gasp and choke.
I’m not Jewish, but as a follower of the Jewish Messiah, Passover has deep meaning for me. In fact, I confess that I find it much more meaningful than the traditions of Easter.
JJ wasn’t feeling well–he has come down with some sort of respiratory infection. He said, “I’m feeling sick. I hope you don’t mind if I don’t dress up…” but we were just glad that he was able to join us.
We had a lot of fun and laughter celebrating tonight. Our “screwups” just made it more memorable.