Ah, the weeks before Passover. A time for parents of picky eaters (and no-so-picky eaters) to begin pulling their hair out thinking about how to survive this year’s celebration of freedom. I will admit, I experienced heart palpitations myself when a chalkboard at my local Stop N Shop proudly proclaimed, “Passover items are here! Aisle 8!”
Add to the food drama endless cleaning, emotional prep for that large family gathering, and inevitable arguments over whether or not your family is eating kitniyot, and you have the perfect recipe for a fantastic, meaningful holiday.
Wait a minute!
By the time the actual seder rolls around, I am already fried. And what a shame, because gathering around a table with friends and family is the thing I love most in this world. Before I had kids, my husband and I enjoyed relaxing during the long seder—drinking wine and chatting with cousins. As the years have passed, however, the high chairs and booster seats have multiplied, including two for my own children. We have not only outgrown our table, we have outgrown our seder.
We have suddenly hit the point I imagine many of you are also at—revisiting our family’s seder and coming up with new ways to make it meaningful, interactive, and fun for the four generations that participate. This is no easy task, and I can just hear all the grandmothers out there saying, “I told you so!” to our collective recognition of just how difficult it is to raise Jewish children.
Before you throw in the towel and suffer through another [insert your own adjective here] seder, let me suggest you get together with your friends, your neighbors, your siblings, your cousins—whomever—and have a meaningful, focused conversation about changing things up. My neighbors and I just did this the other night.
We used the questions below as a guide to help us reflect on our intentions, choose a direction, and begin to create a plan for change. Instead of sharing seder war stories, we shared hopes and ideas for our children. The conversation was fun and, most importantly, productive. After just an hour and a half we each walked away knowing we could change at least one thing this year.
Here are the questions we used:
1. The three words I would use to describe this past year’s seder are…
2. The three words I wish I could use to describe my seder are…
3. I would like to make these changes to my seder/haggadah
4. Specific first steps I can take to change the experience are…
5. People or things that can help me achieve these goals…
6. Obstacles that could get in the way of me achieving these goals…
7. I would know I have been successful if…
So now you have a place to start. Grab a buddy and a bottle of wine and talk through it. Then come back and let me know what you come up with!
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