As the freezer fills up and the “to cook” list gets shorter, there is time put up a quick post. I’ve been trying to think of something original to say about Pesach, and last night I got my inspiration. Our six year old son went with his older brother and my husband to bake some hand baked matzos to use at the seder. Last year was the first time he went, and he seemed to enjoy it, but this year he really enjoyed it! He was very excited about going and last night he asked me what was my favourite thing about Pesach. He told me that his favourite things are the makkos/plagues at the seder, which we act out with all sorts of props, masks and finger puppets, and baking matza. He gave me a detailed explanation, with actions, of how it works, including a tour of the building and what the man in charge was wearing: a black bekitshe, black trousers, black shoes, black kappel and a grey beard and peyos. (Eminently suitable for coming into contact with lots of flour!) His enthusiasm was so infectious that it lit up my preparations.
We have been preparing our almost three-year-old son for a week without his favourite food (toast and peanut butter) by getting him excited about eating matza and drinking wine on Pesach. He’s been checking – what do we eat on Pesach? Matza. What do we drink on Pesach? Wine. What do we not eat? Chametz. I’m not sure if he knows what chametz is, but this morning he checked out a few foods to see. Is bread chametz? Yes. Until we got to a very important one asked with a big grin – are sweeties chametz? Reassured that there would be Pesach sweeties, he asked “is supper chametz?” “No,” I replied, “supper won’t be chametz.” “Yes,” he said, “Noodles with soy sauce!”
We’ve been making Pesach in our own home now for 14 years, and helping our parents make Pesach since we were children, but every year it’s still exciting in its own way. Watching the children approach it differently each year as they grow up and remembering them experiencing as small, then big children, and now as almost adults, is a tremendous pleasure. Who could forget the year when one of the kids threw up at both sedarim? Or last year, when the lights went out as we were about to serve dessert on the second night? We abandoned the dessert, lit some more tealights and sang through the rest of the seder by candlelight –so atmospheric that it’s almost worth trying to do it again.
The beginning of Pesach always comes with slightly mixed feelings for me – my father died on the first day of Pesach, so my mother and I have yahrzeit, which doesn’t really go with the festive atmosphere. We try to say something about my father at the lunchtime meal, as it’s not really appropriate at the seder. He would have been so proud of his grandchildren and I always miss him more at yomtov.
Wishing everyone a chag kasher v’sameach.