The Obligatory Tradition

I want to begin this article by telling all of you – I. Love. My. Parents. However, we bond better when there is separation between our visits. Even when I lived under their roof, I preferred a long-distance relationship with them. When they were downstairs, I was upstairs, when they were home I was out. I went to college out of state and worked and married while living in NYC. After giving birth to my first baby, I did a complete 180. I moved back to Monmouth County, NJ. The same state, I was born in and the same county I was raised in and you guessed it…where my parents still live. The same policy holds true now that I am a mom. I enjoy spending time with them, but in social increments. Since there is a basic come and go understanding, when spring break was approaching I naturally assumed I could schedule a mini-vacation for my husband, myself and kids – even if it overlapped with the beginning of Passover. About five years ago, my father claimed Passover as an “all-you-can-eat” and “all-you-can-invite” tradition. Of course, it is a very generous gesture of him and my mom to extend the holiday to my in-laws, my brother’s in-laws, neighbors and friends. He likes to celebrate the holiday for family bonding purposes and not religious ones, which is fine with me. As opposed to the traditional Four Questions to kick off the Seder, his four questions are 1. Did I cut my hair? 2. Who do I still talk to from high school? 3. Can he get a high-five from the grandkids? 4. Can I get him a toothpick?
That’s why I assumed when I didn’t get the phone call that Passover dinner 2018 was happening, making alternative plans was fair game. And again, let me remind you, we don’t keep tabs on how often we see each other including during holidays, birthdays, weddings…etc. I’m not going to say I completely forgot about their once a year hostessing extravaganza, but since they didn’t bring it up to me I wasn’t going to bring it up to them. Then I got the call from my father, “Hey Hopester, I’m going to see you guys for the holiday, right?”I replied with hesitation, “I don’t think so, dad. We made plans to go away since I didn’t hear from you.” I was prepared to get a little sigh of disappointment and then we would move on and he would ask me, “What else is going on?”
Instead, the unexpected happen. There was silence. And that’s all the “Gefilte guilt” I needed before I crumbled and said, “Um forget it, I’ll cancel our plans”. Although, I felt like a child at that moment, I also felt more mature than I have ever felt as an adult. I knew these moments won’t last forever with my parents. And once they stop hostessing their version of a Seder I would probably take over the tradition…

My kids better show up!