“Seder Insanity” by Jamie Krakover
This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Family.”
Jewish holidays were always a family affair growing up. Seder is a ritual feast that marks the beginning of Passover. Despite the absence of leavened bread, as in every good Jewish family there was no shortage of food in ours. If you went hungry by the end of the night, you weren’t trying hard enough.
For the first Seder, my family gathered at my grandparents’ house. Fifteen of us crammed around the dining-room table, all staring at the food as we opened the Haggadah prayer book and started the service.
Two pages in, my cousin whined, “I’m hungry.” Unfortunately, the meal didn’t come until page 25 or so. We took turns reading paragraphs, and it wasn’t until the next page that someone yelled, “Let’s eat!” We all squirmed in our chairs, hungry bellies growling.
At this point, my dad stood at the head of the table and read from the Haggadah as fast as humanly possible. My grandmother and aunt scurried off for the kitchen. We all closed our books despite not finishing and I smiled, ready for food.
My mom waved her finger and said, “But we didn’t do the four questions.” I huffed and rolled my eyes because as the youngest Hebrew reader, I was stuck with this job. The books flipped back open and I launched into a Hebrew reading of the four questions. It was supposed to be a privilege, but to me, it was the equivalent of being placed in a medieval torture device.
At the conclusion of my broken Hebrew reading, they attempted to make my younger sister read the same passages in English. She always got the easy part and somehow managed to get out of it by batting her eyelashes. My cousin slammed his book down and whined again, “Now can we eat?”
To this my mother replied, “But we forgot to answer the four questions. We can’t leave that hanging.” The whole room groaned. My grandfather glossed over the few paragraphs, finishing off the answer. Finally, my dad collected the books and the matzo ball soup started appearing.
“One ball or two? Do you want carrots or celery?” my grandmother called from the kitchen, the smell intoxicating us. Every member of the family liked it a different way.
“Two balls and carrots!” I yelled into the kitchen. I hoped my request went to the front of the line to avoid my stomach eating a hole through my abdomen.
The matzo balls were the best part, especially if made correctly, which my grandmother did fabulously light and fluffy. Some families failed at the fine art of crafting matzo balls, making them so hard you could throw them through a wall. Thankfully in my family, the only thing you could crack drywall with was the farfel rolls, a sad attempt at unleavened dinner rolls that I always steered clear of for fear of breaking a tooth.
After dinner came the best part of the evening—the hunt for the Afikoman, otherwise known as dessert. At some point in the service, one of the adults broke the middle matzo, stole away from the service and hid it. The kids’ job was to find it, with the prize being $20 from Grandpa.
We jumped up from the table and scrambled around the house, peeking under couch cushions, scanning in plain sight and tripping over each other. After 30 minutes of searching to no avail, I heard my cousin yell from the dining room, “Somebody help me! It’s under my dad’s ass!”
After bolting to the dining room and watching my cousins wrestle my uncle out of his chair by tickling him, one finally emerged the victor with a giant squashed matzo and the $20 prize. My heart sank because I had failed, once again, to find it. I lined up with the rest of my cousins for the $5 consolation prizes, which was far better than nothing.
As we moved back to the table, no one reached for dessert—at least not the Afikoman. Instead, I sat eating my non-ass-warmed strawberries and Passover cake and watched my crazy family, knowing I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Jamie Krakover is an aerospace engineer by day and a writer by night. She loves books, movies, dancing, Twitter and spending time with her family. Jamie lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her Cavachon, Sophie. She blogs at http://jamiekakover.blogspot.com.
Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Family.” The book is filled with 60 funny stories that confirm families aren’t always perfect! Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/1uWdwES) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/11HEQLy).
To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.