I’m pretty sure no kid has ever looked that happy to be eating matzvah, so with that in mind, here is part two of my “answer as many questions as possible before Passover” endeavor. The holiday is about asking questions, after all.
Do you have any advice on how to deal with seders that start late when your kids have early bedtimes? I want to avoid a meltdown but also don’t want to have to leave after just the matzah ball soup. So, how can I be a good guest and deal with family when this is the only time we see them?
Holidays with kids are profoundly different than holidays without kids. I can’t count how many columns I’ve written that come down to that sentence. Either you have to change how you celebrate with your family, or they have to change how they celebrate to accommodate you. There may be some difficult conversations before you reach a conclusion, and there may be some years of being apart from your family or otherwise non-ideal holiday experiences.
If you can host, you can put your kids to bed when they need to be asleep and go on with the seder. If your kids are flexible enough, you can put them to bed at someone else’s house. If your family is flexible enough, you can do a kids seder with just the highlights sometime during the afternoon before the main event. Seder is the one time of year I really advocate for letting kids stay up as late as they can handle, but only you know what that time is for your kids. Make your needs known to your family, and do what you can, remembering that this phase, while difficult, is temporary.
My partner is pregnant (with our first child), and due during Pesach. Everyone keeps telling us that we should be making and freezing food before the baby comes, but that doesn’t seem helpful given the timing. We’re also not sure what to do about food in the hospital during and after labor; the hospital has kosher food available, but even if they offer kosher for Passover food, it’s likely to be meat (and my partner is vegetarian) and could be barely edible. We don’t know whether the delivery will even take place during Pesach. What can we do to prepare?
When my youngest was born almost exactly five years ago, my husband and I went to the hospital with a box of matzah, some sliced cheese and a can of macaroons, plus (I think) a suitcase of clothes. While those items sustained him for several hours, very quickly upon arrival, the midwife made clear that I would be drinking the juice they provided and, honestly, not eating anything anyway. The day after I gave birth, I ate hospital hard-boiled eggs and yogurt, which is probably more or less what I would have been eating at home anyway by the seventh day of Pesach.
You can’t plan for every eventuality for any birth and, of course, this timing makes things more difficult. People will bring you food after you come home, whether it’s Pesach or not, so cross the “make food in advance” stress off your list. Tap a few friends now to see who might be able to bring you food in the hospital during the holiday, too, if it comes to that.
As soon as you become a parent, you’ll realize the futility of trying to prepare for most things, so this is good practice.
Any suggestions for child-friendly haggadahs that are also enjoyable for adults?
Seeking the Perfect Haggadah
There is no perfect haggadah. It’s all about the people and the conversation and what you do with it. If you can go to a synagogue gift shop or Jewish book store and browse the options, you’ll get a feel for what your family may enjoy. There are countless roundups online of the options, and even some downloadable and customizable options as well. If it’s not too crazy-making, consider getting one copy each of a few different ones and letting your guests browse them during the seder to find interesting things to share.
Why are all the options hard?
Despite a lifetime of seders, I can’t actually imagine what it would be like to leave my home in the midst of wondrous miracles from heaven. I can’t imagine being a slave or a refugee or even, thank God, impoverished or in danger. When I remember all the things I can’t even imagine, it goes a teeny tiny way towards making the things in front of me seem less daunting.
Decisions are hard. Options around holiday celebrations come with a particular set of challenges. No one decision is perfect, and no one year of celebrations has to dictate what future experiences are possible. Someone had to be the first one to step into the Red Sea. I’m glad it wasn’t me, but it sure does put my set of options into perspective.