Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Seder!

This year Passover falls in April, way after Easter.  We have celebrated Holy Week by having a seder dinner for the last fifteen years.  So we decided that the main idea was remembering, not keeping actual dates, and had our Seder last Tuesday.  Passover seder is our family's biggest feast of the year.  We try to invite new friends every year, and let them have a taste of Jesus' last supper.  

Tradition...Girls were in charge of flower arrangements.  The daffodils have just started to bloom, so Maggie, Rose and Nora picked as many daffodils as they could find, and cut some wispy willow branches with pretty green buds.  The green St. patrick's Day tablecloth went to the laundry, and out came the white tablecloths and lots of candles.  Thomas helped me take leaves from the breakfast table and improvise to make the dining room table big enough to seat 13.  Patrick made a whole wheat pound cake in our lamb mold.  Maggie made cherry and wineberry cobbler out of our home grown frozen fruit.  Rose and our friend, Laura,  made matzo balls for the soup I made with our chicken bones.  We roasted a leg of lamb with home-grown dried herbs and Trader Joe dijon mustard.  A leg of lamb we raised here on the farm last year.  As Maggie mixed up nuts and apples and cinnamon, I put the herbs on the lamb, the soup bubbled away and Patrick's very own eggs went into his cake with butter and vanilla and all the goodies, so many aromas filled the air.  Only seder has such a combination of smells, cinnamon and red wine, rosemary and garlic, chicken soup and celery, horseradish and lamb shank.  Wow.  What a sense memory.  We had to stop for a moment to smell and remember the many other times of chopping apples, making matzo ball soup, pouring the salt and water into special dipping bowls, in Texas, Japan, New Jersey and now our third year in Virginia. 

I think we must use every piece of china we own.  At least it seems like it when we set the table.  And then wash the dishes later on!  The children grab every pillow they can find from couch and chair and bed.  This night is different from all other nights.  We get to recline and dip parsley into salt water, and eat matzo bread and horseradish and charoseth, and drink lots of grape juice and red wine and have children wash hands and Philip leads as we all take turns reading, stumbling over baruch ata adonai eloheynu, and eat and drink in a festive manner, and remember.  Slavery is bitter.  God gives us sweetness even in the most bitter of times.  Freedom from bondage is good.  Teaching children tradition that spans thousands of years is good.  Remembering that Jesus redeemed us with an outstretched arm is GOOD.  

I love seder.  You can't imagine the volume of matzo crumbs that several children can produce over the course of one meal!  But the glow of the candles, the crackle of the fireplace, the crowded table and communion of friends is worth it.   As we read the Psalms and invite Elijah to join us, I feel ready for Easter.  Grateful for tradition, smells, family and dishwashers.

PS, the chicks and ducks moved out to the barn in honor of seder.  Thank goodness!


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