Restarting holidays


Image courtesy of Ewan Munro. Licensed under CC BY SA.

It’s been a weird year for holidays. My mom dying hastened a process that, I think, happens in a lot of families—once the current crop of kids in the family grow to adulthood, there’s a lull in holiday celebrations until the now-adult children begin to have kids of their own.

A quiet July Fourth bled into a quiet Christmas, which turned into a quiet New Year’s and Valentine’s Day and birthday (Thanksgiving, since it involves food, remained more or less untouched). It’s been fine, but not ideal—I like holidays, I like tradition, I like a socially-sanctioned occasion to have parties and wear fancy shoes and eat tiny foods.

As has been mentioned before, my youthful religious upbringing was spotty at best: I’m nominally Jewish, but grew up celebrating non-religious Christmas and Easter with one half of the family, with religious (but confusing) Hanukkah at Thanksgiving with the other half. I didn’t do seders as a child, but attended a college where religious life is a Thing. It didn’t matter that I’m an atheist—I spent college attending Passover seders and Holi color fights on the quad and Lessons and Carols performances at Christmas. I enjoyed it all.

In keeping with this year’s general tenor, I had assumed that my family wouldn’t have planned anything for Easter. (Which was true.) So, I was particularly happy to be invited to a coworker’s belated seder, just to have an excuse to be out in the world that weekend that wasn’t “moving all of my things out of my old apartment” or “buying food.” At the very least, I figured it would give me an excuse to cook something out of the vegetarian Jewish cookbook that was given to me by a friend of the family. (I am both vegetarian and nominally a Jew, so I think she figured it was a safe bet.)

 The Haggadah we were using had an insane translation, no one knew any of the same melodies to the prayers, and the answers to the four questions took some scrambling to pull out of the group. Our shank bone was a dog treat that had been sharpened into a shiv. Halfway through the first half of the shindig, I was tanked on Manischewitz. (Manischewitz, for those who have not had the pleasure of drinking it, tastes like concord grape juice spiked with simple syrup and vodka. The manufacturers sweeten it with corn syrup or cane sugar. It is insane.) My friends and I spent much of the party stealing as many cheese cubes as possible.

Y’all, it was delightful in a way that I have missed since graduation. More than parties in general, holidays have a general air of goodwill about them that’s just lovely. Even if no one there really believes in the ritual, it’s still important to do the ritual, whether it’s mumbling through the blessing of the matzo, or lighting the same Santa effigy candle you always light, or going to the same across fireworks store that you’ve always gone to. I had an immensely lovely time and drank too much and ate a ton.

Easter Sunday had weather that was bright and cloudless and lovely, and I managed a farmer’s market visit and an apartment cleaning and lunch with my dad. I texted back and forth with a friend who just moved into the neighborhood. I finally hung up my room art. Spring is continuing to be a Thing, and I am excited.

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