As we were setting up for tonight's seder at Sister/Cousin's home yesterday, The Little Bro and I found ourselves discussing seders past.
The sederim of my youth were anything but conventional. They were big, loud, brash, musical, and creative. (Actually...things haven't changed all that much.) We often used off-print haggadot (we still do), had several musical instruments at the table (we still do), and it wasn't unusual for a new experience or visitor to make an appearance.
My brother and I spent part of yesterday reminiscing about the time that our uncle decided to introduce kinetic energy to the seder table and how we kids couldn't help but foil his best-laid plans with our own brand of chicanery. Or about the time that he read everybody's aura with a crystal. There was the year that he invited an odd "homeless-looking" (we never really did discovered his name or story) gentleman to join us. The chap ate like he hadn't in a month, but was so grateful and so polite that we all felt as though we had fulfilled the mitzvah of welcoming the stranger.
Then there was the time that I insisted that we place an orange on the seder plate and nearly set off WWIII. The political discussions that followed were forever banned from the seder table by my mother. There was the year after Other Father's dad passed away that we taught all of the kids how to sing Chad Gadya in Yiddish the way he always did as a surprise. We gathered them all around him and they just let it go. Other Father was so moved he could barely get through the first verse.
Our seders have grown so large that with next generations and significant others added in, we have had to find suitable locales to host us all. We have used condo party rooms and synagogue multi-purpose areas. We have developed seating charts and menu lists. We have measured space down to the last centimetre and we have detailed the event as carefully as any party planner. (A special shout-out for this stuff has to go out to my Little Bro's Yin to his Yang. She is unbelievable.) It isn't always easy and we don't all agree, (OY!!) but every year we seem to make it work.
I think that the reason that the two of us got a bit nostalgic yesterday and certainly a bit misty, was in part because of those who will not be with us this year. Some because it is the yearly trade off with other sides of family; some because of university exams; some unfortunately because of illness; and some because......
There is a great deal of complaining that goes with Pesach. It is so much work. It is so much cooking. It is so much cleaning. It is so much constipation. All of it true. But as my conversation with my brother reminded me yesterday, it is really all about the people. Those that are here and those that will always be here. They are all in my heart and soul this year and every year.
May your Pesach sederim be lovely, meaningful, fun, and filled with the stuff that makes memories.