Having the answers to questions doesn’t always make things easier. Especially in our religion. You can ask one question, and get several different answers, which can pretty much make you more confused than you were when you first asked the question. For example, how do you kasher a countertop? What kind of countertop? Do you need to use a steamer? Tin foil? Heavy-duty tin foil? Can it be generic? What about if it is a countertop that has never had anything hot spill on it? Do you have to cover it at all?
Passover is the holiday of questions. And just like Siri can’t answer all of the questions we ask her (I would love to know what Siri did before Apple hired her), life is full of questions that have no answers (like why my 20-year-old son eats boiled flanken or why I have no mysterious reasons for unexplained weight gain). We just take it as it comes, try to laugh more, cry less, and cherish the ones we love. Holidays bring out the best and the worst in people (especially if you are spending too much quality time with some of those people). And when you sit in the lobby of a hotel that is hosting a Passover program, you really hear some interesting conversations — good, bad, and downright scary.
But that is for another time.
We are now in the homestretch of yet another Passover season. The kosher-for-Passover products have been reduced and reduced again. (Stock up, kids, some of this stuff stays good for years and years. Except for bottles of soda. And I did research on this. A bottle of Coke that was not opened and was stored in a dark and cool place, when it is opened a year later, has no fizz. And tastes like lead. However, a can of diet Dr. Brown remains fresh and delicious a year later.) There was a big crisis this year — no kosher-for-Passover mint flavored gum. For some reason, the candy companies didn’t make it. And if you did manage to find it, it actually was from last year’s supply. Folks on Facebook were going nuts trying to locate this precious commodity. I am guessing a lot of people just have had some really nasty breath for the past week.
As I write this, I am in a happy place. I am sitting at a table, surrounded by my beautiful boys, playing bingo. The bingo isn’t making me happy (because I haven’t won) but being with my three sons is making me happy. No one is fighting or causing trouble and they are all listening to me. I think back to when they were little, and I never thought I would make it to this stage. I thought I was always going to be walking around with a bag of fishy crackers and sippy cups filled with apple juice. But then, you blink and here we are. Husband #1 is still at work, but he is soon going to be making his way up to the Catskill mountains, and then we all will be together.
This holiday has special significance to me. Twenty-one years ago, while standing in the kiddish room of the Concord Hotel, I felt Son #1 move for the first time. For those of you who have never been pregnant, let me tell you, it is the coolest feeling ever. It is the moment you realize that you are not alone, that there is a miracle a-brewin inside of you. Of course, that is also the month that I gained 15 pounds and got the following lecture from my doctor, “Just remember, whatever weight you put on, you will have to take off.” Yup, such a shame that I have yet to take off those last 15 pounds. Yes, it has been 21 years.
Passover is the time of year when we can eat only certain foods, and those foods evoke irreplaceable memories. When I was little, my papa, my maternal grandfather, used to make me matzah cereal, with milk, butter, salt, and lots of sugar (apparently I was destined to carry around extra baby weight) and when I make it for myself, if I close my eyes, I can almost feel him watching me and smiling.
So we can ask the question, why do we lose people that we love? How do we go on? Why are they taken from us — some way too soon? Those are the questions that have no answers. Those are the questions that we have to stop asking because it won’t make a difference. All we can do is think about those people, reflect on those memories, and hope the lessons they taught us will make us better people for those in our lives who we are blessed to still have.
Banji Ganchrow will keep next week’s column light, airy, and full of laughs. But only if she survives her talks at the hotel. Otherwise, Husband #1 will be writing the column.