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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passed Over

I was on my way home from work yesterday when the phone rang. As soon as I saw that it was my parents, indicated by the little pic that appeared on my phone depicting my mother holding my nephew on our living room floor, I knew that seder had been cancelled.

Why else would she be calling me at 4:12pm on Passover?

She reported, in depth, about the frequency of my eldest sister's diarrhea (at least she left out details concerning viscocity and peak flow) and stated that she had been caring for my other delinquent sister's child for over 24 hours straight, and that she and my father weren't feeling well and, well, seder just wasn't going to happen.

This is not the first time that a holiday has been spoiled-- not for us, and not for you-- but, nevertheless, it stung. It's funny, because I can't imagine that anybody was especially sexed up about the idea of spending three hours sitting around my parents' dinner table pretending we were all having a great time in the midst of a thousand things unsaid.

Well, I wasn't especially sexed up about it, at any rate. Nevertheless, the disappointment of the cancellation of the affair was felt keenly. Mostly, if I'm honest, I was dreading coming home and having to tell my wife. I like being the bearer of bad news about as much as I like being the reason for it.

A retired policeman once said that "The New York City Police Departments is the king of disappointing people." My family must be lower lordlings or something in the disappointing people department. I'm not so sure why I'm still continually surprised or even bothered by these cockups and blunders and coincidences that seem so continually and regularly to spoil things around our house, but I am. I suppose it's some infantile, naive hope that "things'll be different this year." And they're always different the next year, and yet it's more of the same.

I certainly don't doubt that my sister is shitting like a faucet, that's not the point. The point is that it's all the missed opportunities and, sorry-how-bout-next-times that have come before this holiday that make this latest insult just one on the heap. On top of everything else. On top of Old Smokey.

All covered with matzah.

Holidays are beginning to give me a bad taste in my mouth, by and large, and I suppose that's part of what getting older is all about. I have this romanticized picture in my mind about what seder used to be like when I was a boy, and I clutch onto that with all the fervor of a night-terrorized child gripping onto his binkie or his bunny. My father commanding the house, making faces at my sister across the table. Reading from the Maxwell House Haggaddah in different accents at the egging on of my family. It was a great time.

At least, I think it was.

Truthfully, I don't know what the fuck my family seder was like in 1987. Or 1989. Or 1992. I don't really remember remember-- I just think I do. And it's that hazy non-recollection that taints whatever comes in its wake-- or, in this case, doesn't.

It's easy to have the present pale in comparison to the past when you're probably making up most of your memories of the past anyway.

This year, it's different. My wife and I, blindsided at the last possible moment, did Passover on our own. We made our own haroset out of apples, chopped up nuts, and pom-whatever juice because we had no sickly-sweet Manichewitz wine in the house. There was matzah-ball soup that we'd made the week before, a hastily-prepared kugel, and dry chicken that I picked up from my parents' house as a consolation prize.

"Just put it in a pan and fry it, Mummy, it'll be great," my father said, handing it to me.

"No, it won't," I said, taking it from him.

See, the thing is, though-- it will. In the end, it will. Because, while I'm not having some big to-do seder with my family like I might have done when I was a boy, I'm having a Jewish-looking/tasting dinner at home with my beautiful, sad wife and, in the end, we're family enough for each other, and forever, too.

Happy Passover.

1 comment:

  1. I can totally relate to this post. I didn't realize my family was so dysfunctional until I got married and half of them didn't show up because they were mad at one another. I always thought my family was happy. I was obviously making up those memories.


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