I've been mulling over holidays a lot since last fall. I was raised and have been raising my kids as American traditionalists. We celebrate all the mainstream American holidays, to varying degrees: New Year's, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter (in the secular sense), Mother's Day, Father's Day, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas (also secularily). I never really thought much about it - it was just our comfortable default. But, especially after Halloween, I started thinking about the arbitrariness of some of our holidays. Don't get me wrong, you are not going to hear from me a list of reasons why Christians shouldn't enjoy Halloween or secular Christmas traditions - I've read those lists many times over, and mostly I see historical inaccuracies, misinformation, and a spirit of fear pervading the author. I refuse to live my life in the bondage of legalism. That is never what motivates my decisions to be countercultural! But, I feel less and less of a pull towards many things that are accepted as normal and as-it-should-be in our culture. Holidays are no exception. And, if many of the holidays we celebrate are arbitrary and reflective of ancient pagan cultures, I've been thinking - why not look towards perhaps alternatively celebrating some of the Jewish holidays? Now, don't get me wrong - there's nothing redemptive or "holy" about celebrating Rosh Hashanah instead of Halloween. Perhaps you merely feel called to celebrate fall in a God-honoring way of your own. But, for my family, I think that there is value in understanding the history of our faith, which is, in part, the history of Judaism. It is important to me to find ways to incorporate my ethnic ancestry into my family's culture, and I think that my "faith history" is at least as important, if not more so. So, in light of this, we decided to celebrate our first Fife family Passover seder. I've been exposed to the seder meal before, when I was a child, but never the service. Our pastor was so kind as to loan us the necessary materials (a Haggadah, which is the liturgy of the seder, and then a bunch of the physical objects you need), and we tried to do our very best. It was a wonderful experience (and tiring too - with a day full of preparations/cooking). The older kids were quiet and respectful, and the younger kids, well not so much, but hopefully as it becomes a tradition (and they get older), they'll start to see the beauty in it. The seder, from start to finish, took about three and a half hours (with potty and discipline breaks LOL) and after washing a few of the dishes, mopping up a last-minute wine spill, and sweeping the floor, we fell into bed at 11 that night, thoroughly exhausted and spiritually nourished.
Note the orderliness pre-meal :-)
Hard-boiled eggs (an appetizer for our feast) were the first to go (and Colin's kippah had a mind of it's own - or possibly Colin has a funny-shaped head LOL)
Ian had the most fun of the children
Allegra and Ian
Our esteemed leader (and the only one, besides Cecily, who truly enjoyed the lamb, although everything liked the Chicken and Matzo Ball soup, and the Noodle Kugel)
Elle konked out on the table about 30 minutes before we finished (and after she spent a good 20 minutes amusing herself by crushing matzot into fine pieces and sprinkling it on the floor)
This was how Colin ended the night. He was sound asleep right there, underneath the table.
By the end of the night, it was 2.5 men down (Ian didn't fall all the way asleep, but he was happy to keep Elle company using the table as a pillow).