Family holidays are a big deal for me, especially the food. Eating ham on Easter, plum pudding on Christmas and Eskimo pies on the Fourth of July is the stuff of my childhood memories. When I got married I began to celebrate Jewish holidays too, and now my enthusiasm for the Passover Seder is unsurpassed. My first Passover memory is of diving head first into a plate of chopped liver after driving for hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic from our apartment in Manhattan to my husband's aunt's house in Long Island. Tonight, three thousand miles away and twenty years later, we'll eat the same food, read the same story and sing the same songs that we ate, sang and read in New York at Aunt Yvette's. These traditions, practiced at Jewish tables around the world on Passover night, are what make this night different from all other nights.
Family holidays are times when we put aside absolutely everything to be together. They are rarely convenient but we celebrate them without question. I don't know about your household, but in ours it's not always easy to find the time. Yet, in lives often ruled by professional commitments, school schedules, homework, sporting events, and myriad other obligations that seem very important right now, carving out time for family holidays has never been more crucial. Each year around the Passover holiday we pause, set aside all the to-ing and fro-ing for a moment, and rest. It is an opportunity to bring our priorities into focus and remind us of something that's easy to forget: How we spend our time speaks volumes about who we are, and about the paths down which our choices are taking us.
Every minute of every day we choose how to spend our time and where to focus our attention. Those choices telegraph our priorities more forcefully than anything we say. Leading up to Passover, I turn off my computer and spend time shopping, cooking, baking and setting the table, largely because I enjoy it, but also to send my kids a message about what's important to me. I have no way of knowing if they'll get the message, but I do it anyway. While Passover night is unique in many, wonderful ways, this is the one way in which Passover night is exactly the same as every other.