Halfway through Monday night’s Passover Seder, one of my sons turned to me and whispered, “I like our traditions better.” It was not an appropriate time to ask for further elaboration. The comment merely sat dormant as we enjoyed our time in my in-law’s home. It was the first time that we had returned to Chicago during Passover since we moved to Colorado almost 14 years ago.
Today, as I scurry about making our favorite Passover foods, I am pondering the importance of the traditions that my husband and I implemented decades ago. We made a conscious decision to follow a host of family rituals each year. Some were secular in nature while others adhered to Jewish principles and beliefs.
The continuity of our actions enabled our sons to look forward to certain events. For example, they knew what to expect each year for their birthdays and also anticipated our frequent ski trips to Colorado. Likewise, they looked forward to erecting a Sukkah each fall and taking the glass dishes out for Passover each spring. Year after year, we followed a familiar pattern of activities that always included special foods. Occasionally, we would introduce something new. However, most of the time our family’s actions were quite predictable.
While some may consider set routines to be boring, I am energized when I can plan and act accordingly. I know what needs to be done and don’t have to fret about being uncertain. Occasionally something will be added that I learned about in a book, article or talk. But most of the customs remain the same. Our children look forward to what they have grown accustomed to since their earliest years.
Even though we had shared the celebration of the Seder with my husband’s family for decades before we moved, it was no longer the same. Their traditions had grown in one direction while ours had taken a slightly different course. Although both shared many common elements, the essence was dissimilar. Most likely, my son missed the familiarity of our family’s rituals and the spirit that our Seders generate.
It was a delight to be part of the extended family’s Seder. Nephews who were small were now grown. Children who were not yet born when we relocated occupied additional chairs. With so many voices, the Hebrew songs took on a new character. It is too soon to say where we will celebrate Passover next year. However, I can safely say that family traditions will remain sacred in our Colorado home.
We will continue to follow what we feel is important for our family. These customary practices enrich our lives and help connect us to one another. It is our hope that one day we will be able to pass on these rituals as a starting point for our sons’ families. It will be their choice to decide whether they implement our practices, decide on a hybrid approach, or create their own.
I encourage everyone-Jew and Gentile- to take time to appreciate their family’s traditions. Families should cherish the customs that are handed down from generation to generation.
Best wishes for a joyous Passover and an enjoyable Easter.
Sandra Bornstein is the author of MAY THIS BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. It is available on Amazon. Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Sandra is married and has four adult sons. The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards, the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and received an Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.