In which I reveal a little bit about myself
As many of you know, Saturday night was Passover. As some of you also know, I am not the slightest bit religious, myself. But my family is, at least to the degree that we have a Passover seder every year. We don't necessarily take it very seriously, but we do have it, for what that's worth.
* * *
Because I don't have a car, my aunt L gave me a ride over to my parents' house. As I met her at my front door, she greeted me with, "I'm SO glad you're dressed like a slob too!" Nice. For the record, I was NOT dressed like a slob. Casual, maybe, but not a slob. I am fully willing to admit that I am a slob, but I was not dressed like one. Whatever. My aunt is one of those people you kind of just nod your head and agree with, because...she has issues.
L: Ugh. I hope this doesn't go too long. Sometimes I just hate these family things. They're soooo stressful, you know? Don't tell your mother I said that."
Of course not. There's no need. Because everyone in the family ALREADY KNOWS.
At the end of the ride, I am thankful my other aunt is driving me back, because L drives like an old person - at least ten miles below the speed limit, hitting the brakes every time she sees the tiniest crack in the road, drifting into the other lane every once in a while. She's one of those people who you wonder how they get through life without ever getting into an accident.
* * *
Upon arriving, I see that my Dad is engrossed in the NFL draft. He's even got list of all the college players, and is marking their names off as they get drafted. Looking at the clock, we come to the distressing realization that we will miss our team's top pick because of the seder, so my Dad sets up the computer near the dining room. My mother is not told about this. As people arrive, everyone oohs and aahs over the newish, gigantic, wall-consuming television (later, after dinner, there will be fights over whether we will watch baseball or basketball, and when we put up the split-screen, which game gets the sound; I wanted baseball, but I was voted down).
* * *
Prior to this year, my uncle was the leader, but he and my aunt moved to Florida, so the job fell to my dad. He reads the Hagaddah like he is giving a speech or teaching one of his classes.
When he gets to the part where he tells the story of why we eat matzah, he makes the same joke he makes EVERY SINGLE YEAR.
My dad:We eat matzah because our ancestors did not have time to allow the dough to rise before they had to flee...but they still had time to bake all sorts of Passover rolls and cakes and stuff. Har har har.
My mom: STOP editorializing. JUST READ! God.
My uncle: Come on, I'm sure our ancestors had a sense of humor.
Fortunately, my mom does not notice when we get to the part in our Haggadah that talks about Jews in the Soviet Union (not something I've ever seen in a Haggadah, but I guess these were a little non-traditional, so okay).
My dad: What's all this about Soviet jewelry?
Somewhere in there, we get to the point where everyone reads a little bit, usually about a paragraph. This year, my cousin's kid gets the section about why we eat maror, except he reads it as "why we eat manure" (not on purpose - he's just not old enough yet to have perfect reading skills). Sadly (for those of us who have the maturity of twelve-year-olds), our Haggadahs are different from the ones my aunt used to use, which had a passage that talked about "Moses's rod," and no one could ever read it without all the cousins stifling their laughter, and all the adults acting scandalized. "What's going on? What are you all laughing at?"
Later, my dad explains the Passover symbols (I'll note that I think I'm going through everything here a little out of order, as I believe explaining the matzah was part of this. Whatever).
He picks up the lamb shank bone.
My dad: This is the lamb shank. It symbolizes--
Someone: It says you're supposed to point at it.
My dad: Okay, I'm pointing at it.
My cousin B: Wow, that's a big bone!
Someone: What about the egg? What's the egg for?
Someone else: Life? Spring?
Someone else: No, I think the parsley is for spring.
Someone else: I'm hungry. Is it time to eat yet?
My cousin A quietly excuses himself to "go to the bathroom." When he comes back, several of us mouth the words, "Who'd they pick?"
When we get to the part with "Go Down Moses" (snicker), everyone argues about whether we're supposed to sing it or not. Several people think it's the song "Dayenu," which is actually on the next page.
We do try to sing "Dayenu," but half the people don't know the words, everyone is off key, and no one is singing in unison. No one knows more than one verse, and we're mostly sick of it anyway.
My mom: Okay, enough. We're not the Von Trapp family here.
And finally, we get to what everyone is really waiting for, the meal.
* * *
There's a lot of starch, a lot of turkey. Not a whole lot of green. My cousin C's girlfriend-of-the-month has brought a jello mold, which she claims is a Jewish tradition. I would dispute that. Especially since it has dairy in it, and we are eating turkey, and eating meat and dairy together is not kosher. Not that any of us actually keeps kosher (I don't think my parents throw out any of their bread; I don't even stop eating it), but we still at least try to pretend to do it at the Passover meal. We are all polite and try a little of the jello mold, but unsurprisingly, no one wanted to keep the leftovers that night.