It is really the day before the eve of the holiday (because we celebrate holidays from sunset to sunset) but every creature was stirring. Heck, 15 people are coming over.
POB (partner of blogger) made a vat of chicken soup. She rendered chicken fat which, if you’ve done it, you know that is a disgusting necessity for light, floating matzo balls. The whole house smells like a barn. And while we are talking about matzo balls, I need to note for the record that the Blogger family tradition is that matzo balls sink, not float. Their intended purpose — so say those in my tribe — is to line your stomach for the coming week of no bread and also give you a reason to complain about intestinal issues, e.g., (in a Yiddish accent) “I ate such a heavy matzo ball that it is cement in my stomach, and boy-oh-boy, have I got troubles getting anything out!!”. However unpleasant, it is my inheritance.
But MOPOB (mother of POB), may she rest in peace, made floating matzo balls. And since Passover is all about MOPOB (my mother’s memory is invoked on Thanksgiving), we “sinkers” just sigh and “boing” the matzo balls with our figures, wondering if, with a little push, they might sink. No such luck these past few years. So part of our Passover narrative (“and you shall tell your children on that day . . . “) also includes the sinker-floater dichotomy, because as surely as there were Israelites on the shore of the Red Sea, they were also arguing about whose matzo was better. So, it is just in keeping with the tradition. So I shall tell my child that “on that day” there were no floaters in the land of Egypt. Ok, that isn’t fair because there weren’t sinkers either. There wasn’t matzo ball soup. But history is written by the conquerors and vanquished loud-mouths. I can live with being in the latter category on the matzo ball issue.
Those of you who aren’t Jewish may not appreciate that importance of this. This is a divide that can splinter families. We are talking about our grandmothers’ and great grandmothers’ recipes. We are talking about the overbearing, tyrannical beings that, upon death, miraculously turned into angels in everyone’s memories. We are talking about tradition. [Start singing from Fiddler on the Roof.] This is big.
But MOPOB’s traditions must prevail. She was terminally ill at our first Seder in our home in 2006. She pronounced herself satisfied with the celebration — a high compliment and tantamount to a blessing on our home and us — and then, within 36 hours was hospitalized and soon died. You can’t mess with that heavy trip.
I needed chairs and an extra table from my Dad. We had lunch and then went down to the storage bins in his apartment building. Dad is looking great these days, although slower since his fall two weeks ago. Still he grabbed the hand truck at the entrance to this scary storage room in the bowels of his apartment building. Only one light worked. He and I were feeling around in the dark for his folding table and chairs. We found them and managed not to fall or otherwise hurt either of us. Every year we go through this ritual and I make a note to self to remind the doorman about the lighting. Every year, Dad and I forget. Every year, we grope in the dark until we find what we need. So far, it has worked for us. Tradition.