April 17, 2008

What is Your Favorite Pesach Memory?

My son asked me to tell him about my favorite Pesach memory. It is the kind of question that should be a gimme. It doesn't involve body parts or questions about sex. There is no philosophical discussion such as the one about why people do bad things or why is there war.

It is just a simple question in which I get to tell him about my favorite memory of the 35 or so sederim that I remember. Yet the truth is that I found it to be more than a little frustrating. I don't have a favorite story, at least I can't seem to think of one and that bothered me a little.

It seemed to me that with so many experiences to choose from I should be able to pick one or two, but I just can't seem to pinpoint those extra-special moments. It made me wonder if perhaps I hadn't taken them for granted.

So I spent some time thinking long and hard about Pesach and realized that I have a hundred favorite memories. Perhaps it is a cop out, but it is true. So here is a brief list:

1) The way that my parent's house smelled. Brisket, Apple Matzoh Kugel.
2) The seder that I was finally old enough to stay awake the whole way through.
3) Listening to my great-grandmother tell my sister that she was shikkered (drunk) when all she had was grape juice.
4) My cousin's matzoh ball soup.
5) My first time reciting the four questions by myself
6) The first time I led the seder.

How about you. What is your favorite memory?

14 comments:

Shai said...

When I realized Uncle Milty was drinking the Cup of Elijah while my back was turned, as I opened the door for him. :-)

Shai said...

Ah the memories are flooding back - ever try to follow all the rules to the "t"? I did that once with horseradish root. I had a gas mask from the time that Israel was attacked by Iraq, and put it on as I ground the horseradish - and I ate the fresh horseradish at the appropriate times and the appropriate amounts. That's a lot of horseradish. It was fresh, and thus a bit painful - everybody got a kick out of it because it was like a character out of a cartoon as I turned red and steam probably went out of my ears. But, I was very determined - so I did it.

THen there was the time me and Howie got drunk because we decided that we would drink the whole cup each time, and we were both first borns so we did it on an empty stomach. During the meal our heads were spinning, so we just went out on the stoop for some fresh air and sat down and talked, and neither of us could stop laughing at every stupid thing we said to each other, and that made everybody else laugh at us - that was a happy, fun Pesach.

Then there are all the fun places I've hidden the afikoman, and the negotiations with my kids to give it back - I think Pesach is my favorite holiday, and it's part of what makes Spring my favorite season. It's filled with nice memories.

Leora said...

The year we opened the door for Eliyahu and the neighbor's cat came in.

The Misanthrope said...

I enjoy these stories. I may have to write one. My grandfather was just a character, albetit a well-off, smart one.

orieyenta said...

The first Pesach after we converted when Little Orieyenta sang the "Ma Nistanah" in perfect Hebrew.

miriam said...

I heard so many little children say or sing the Ma Nishtana, but my favorite was my grandson, when he was about 6. He sang it beautifully.

I have bittersweet memories of my mother and her whole family, including my bubbe, participating in the Seder. They are all gone now.

Baila said...

Every year my parents having the same fight because they used different haggadahs, and when the matzohs are covered or not....they are probably doing it again as I write....

And also my father's beautiful voice, especially for "chasal siddur Pesach". I miss that....

Doreen Orion said...

All the cousins going a bit overboard with the "reclining" thing, as if we were ancient Roman patricians, so that our parents would yell, "Sit up at the table!" And we'd yell back, "But, it's Pesach! We're SUPPOSED to recline!" It never worked.

That most of the cousins' names began with the letter, "D", so some choruses of Dayanu became, "Die Die Doreen... Die Die Douglas... Die Die Dina... " etc.

We were such little snots, but I'm sure those happy memories are part of why Pesach is still my favorite holiday.

Doreen Orion said...

Oy, one more!

My Uncle George who had been in Vaudeville, always making the same lame jokes throughout the seder. Now, I dearly wish I could remember just one.

Jack said...

Shai,

That is pretty funny.

Shai,

Using a gas mask with the horseradish? That is a hell of a story, or maybe it just sounds like hell. ;)

Leora,

Eliyahu Hachatool.

Misanthrope,

I look forward to reading it.

Orie,

That is a nice story.

Miriam,

It is a cliche, but as long as you remember they are never totally gone.

Baila,

My folks had their share of Pesach fights, not about haggadot, but I understand what you are saying.

Doreen,

Dayenu- we have a few of those too.

torontopearl said...

1. Preparing the charoset with my mother and constantly taking just a "small taste" of that sweetness!
2. Each year (to this day, so many years later) breaking out into laughter with certain Hebrew words in the Haggadah and my father's mispronunciation in his Cheder Hebrew of others
3. My brothers and I singing "Echad Mi Yodeah" at time warp speed and with a Rumba backbeat by the end of the song and breaking out into laughter as a result.
4. Continual debates about the merits of hard "knaidlech" vs. light and fluffy "knaidlech".
5. Using some of the silver -- salt holder and Kos Eliyahu -- from my mother's home, which was no doubt from my grandparents' and great-grandparents' home, and thinking about family traditions.

(aside from that, I recall all the prep work: dusting, polishing the silver, and hauling all the Pesach pots and dishes up from the basement and taking the everyday dishes and pots downstairs for the week)

Michael said...

The year the table broke, and my dad and uncles sat at the far end for 3 hours, holding it up on their knees.

That was a fun seder.

Chag sameach!

Rivster said...

My favourite Pesach memory was Pesach 1981. My sister and I had the chicken pox and because we had two pregnant aunts, we were banished to the upstairs. To be honest, we were too sick to be at the table anyway. My dad bought us brand new nightgowns (instead of the new clothes we usually got) and that gesture now, as it did then, is just so sweet. We did the four questions via speaker phone!!!

Jack said...

Pearl,

The prep work, oy, I know what you mean.

Michael,

That is pretty funny.

Rivster,

That really is sweet.