I'm a big believer in showing love through food. Nothing gives me quite the same pleasure as having a large table filled with people I love eating what I've cooked for them.
The last few days I've been offline preparing for our two 20-person Passover seders. We always come back from Hawaii about 10 days before the first seder, which theoretically gives us time enough to reconnect with family and friends, do the shopping, supervise the cleaning and changing over of dishes (in a kosher home, two separate sets of dairy and meat dishes are required, one for the eight days of Passover, and one for the rest of the year), and doing all the cooking. This schedule works in concept, but there is always jet lag and often a cold and/or orthopedic issues to deal with, and now that we have so many grandchildren (eight and counting), there doesn't seem to be quite as much time to prepare as there used to be.
My response this year has been to cut back a few items from what has been pretty much a set menu for at least the past 12 years, and while the part of me that is trying very hard to take care of myself thinks this is a fine idea, the part of me that loves presiding at that table is struggling.
Of course, the point of the holiday is not really about the food, but about the sense of tradition and closeness that the food helps to engender. On the other hand, the whole point of ritual and tradition is to provide a sense of security through the repetition of what is known and familiar. Which is why once I had discovered a bunch of dishes that my family (and my seder "family") liked, I stopped experimenting. I'm telling myself that the people at my table would probably prefer to have me sitting with them with a couple fewer dishes to choose from than to have the full complement and a sick, miserable host. I even believe that. And yet, part of me is feeling bad for not living up to my expectation of myself, not to mention what those others have come to expect.
So, I hereby declare that whatever may or may not appear on the table tomorrow and Tuesday nights, I love you all just as much as ever, if not more, and am doing my best to get healthier so that next year or the year after all those dishes may reappear at our seders and be enjoyed for many years to come.
A zisn, koshern pesakh (a sweet, kosher Passover) to all who celebrate the holiday.
A hui hou.