Updated — just a bit — in mid-March 2021, as we begin to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic that has held us all in its grip for the past year!
One beautiful early spring day many years ago, while living in Santa Fe, I received an unexpected call from friends we had previously known in Dallas.
It was Friday, just as this year, and Easter was on Sunday. Preparations for the first Passover seder were already underway at our house. But old friends don’t arrive every day. We immediately invited them to join us, and we set two more places at the table.
I remember that celebration with fondness.
We had been busy chopping apples, preparing Haroset and bitter herbs, roasting a shank bone and setting the table. But most of the work was finished and we looked forward to an opportunity to share a meal and good times with dear friends.
They brought marshmallow and peanut butter-filled chocolate bunnies. They also brought beautiful white eggs and a dye kit and gleefully set up shop in our kitchen, amid the Matzoh, the chicken, the vegetables, and the half-done dessert.
We were like children that afternoon, mindful of our separate traditions and eager to share news of our separate lives over the past months and years.
That evening we had colored eggs on our ceremonial Seder plate, along with the parsley, the horseradish and the other essentials. We shared the Passover story, and we repeated ecumenical prayers. We all had a wonderful time and somehow it seemed more than appropriate that we meld the symbols, the prayers and the traditions of our individual families and faiths.
We also celebrated other newfound rituals — our roast chicken was served with green chile on the side. The rest of the menu was just as eclectic, made more savory because of the guests who trusted they would be welcomed with open arms, even at the last minute.
This year, as the world is immersed in “separateness” and strife, and when the news seems less than joyous all around, I recall that other holiday — the joint celebration of holy days that seemed effortless and totally right — and I have hope that similar scenes continue to be played out in other households, even now.
One of my favorite authors, Robert Fulghum, speaks of rituals, saying “Rituals do not always involve words, occasions, officials, or an audience.” But when they do — as in the ritual of the Seder, or the rituals of Easter services, they are poignant. They deserve to be honored, held dear and celebrated with gusto.
That is more true today, in 2021, than when I first wrote this.
No matter where you are, or who you are with this special weekend, I wish you well. It matters little whether you mark the occasion with a large family, or spend it in solitude. I hope you greet it with good memories from the past and the expectation of a pleasant future. If you are able, share the joy with good food and good tales, with good friends, and with a sense of celebration.
And, by the way, perhaps colored eggs on the Seder plate should become a tradition.
Life is, after all, a continuing celebration.
Life itself, after all is said and done, is the celebration!