Now that we’ve turned the corner to 2009, Passover is once again on the horizon.
By horizon I mean close enough to plan for in a vague sense; not close enough to start hyperventilating & crying, stocking up on cleaning products, and forbidding the consumption of Cheerios and bread except for out on the terrace.
For every year of our marriage, with the exception of 2002 (when my in-laws were in Israel), we’ve spent the seder nights with Taxman’s parents. Oh, and then there was the complicated Give-Birth-to-AM project of 2006, wherein we spent half of the first seder in our seats, half of the first seder walking the streets of Neighborhood of Taxman’s Youth, and the second seder in the hospital–where my seder consisted of getting an epidural and Taxman quickly ran through things with some matzah, grape juice, and matzah & jelly sandwiches as his grand meal.
We don’t have a lot of experience in the Pesach department. Turning our house over instead of running from it as if it were on fire. Never hosted a seder. We have very little of the myriad things required to have a reasonable Pesach experience: a seder plate (FWIW, I am partial to anything made by Renee Vichinsky), kos shel Eliyahu, dishes, cutlery, pots and other cooking accoutrements, full time cleaning and cooking help, time that two adults need to clean and verify the unCheerioness of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, eight closets, living area, terrace, and the contents therein. Did I mention the two children? Who eat approximately six times a day? And would be home for the days leading up to the holiday because of the (seemingly boneheaded) decision (from this single vantage point) to send Miss M to a Jewish school, where all of the teachers will also need to be home preparing.
I am definitely a wimp. I admit that. People make Pesach all the time, and I’ve never really had to. (There were two years, before kids, when we turned over our house to spend the final six days of Pesach at home.) But they are most assuredly more organized than I, have more obedient children, and/or a husband who does not spend the days leading up to Pesach working 85-hour weeks. Let me give an example that reveals how scattered and idiotic I can be: My glasses frame has been bent for months. We have insurance that covers that sort of thing. I haven’t gotten an eye exam or new frames/lenses in years. Have I gotten my shit together enough to go take care of this? No.
We had tossed around, a few months ago, the idea of spending Pesach in Israel again, because Taxman’s parents now live there. It seemed like a really, really good idea. Kids get to see their grandparents, cousins, and a score of other relatives. We get to keep one day of Yom Tov.* Instead of being solely responsible for getting my house in order, I could be of assistance of my mother-in-law or sister-in-law–by making brownies or taking the kids to the park or running to get eggs or whatever. Taxman could take his computer and phone and be in touch with work.
It became clear by December that Taxman will not be able to spend so much time away from his desk in April–not going in on April 9, 10, 11, 15, and 16 will be bad enough. Naturally, I accepted this with equanimity the assistance of Trader Joe’s milk chocolate covered cranberries grace and dignity pouting. Grasping at straws a few days later, I asked how he would feel about my taking the kids and going to Israel for Pesach. “You can come for the end of Pesach. Or whenever is good for you.” Which turns out to be Not At All in the month of April, so really, I’d be on my own for the whole shebang.
“I mean, I don’t love the idea of not spending Pesach with you, but it would be nice for the kids to see my parents, and I know making Yom Tov is a huge project that I can’t help with much,” was pretty much Taxman’s take. “Of course, I have no idea if you can get flights.”
I proposed the idea to my sister-in-law. She was in complete disbelief that I would be willing to spend Pesach apart from Taxman and implied that that was Beyond the Pale of acceptable practice. But my brother-in-law (Taxman’s brother) was here all week for work and explained that was her Israeli lens talking, in that Seder Night = Thanksgiving in terms of familial importance and weight. Ah ha! “Yeah, I told her to stop making you feel bad about suggesting it. She doesn’t get that Americans don’t view leil ha-Seder the same way.”
So with that cleared up, I researched flights. Miraculously, there are seats available for travel during what is normally a very popular time to go to Israel. (Taxman’s guess is that the economy is causing people to scale back; luckily, we have my brother-in-law’s abundant frequent flyer mileage to help.)
It boils down to a) do I want to spend two weeks apart from Taxman, during a time when he will be tired, stressed, and cranky? and b) can I handle it? And by “it” I mean there are two choices: making Pesach here with the kids (turn over the house, clean, cook, deal with 3-day Yom Tov) or traveling alone to Israel with one almost-5 year-old, one 3-year-old, and one Britax carseat.** (I mention the carseat because it’s 17 pounds, hard to wrangle, and has caused me bodily injury in the past.) The last international flights did not go so well with AM, but he would be a whole year older; he has the power of speech; and he doesn’t have a paradoxical reaction to Benadryl.
It’s a stumper. Really.
* Do not use this post as a psak, AYLOR, blah blah, this message will self destruct.
** Edited to add: Clearly there are ways to manage the carseat–more than I imagined. It wasn’t going to be a dealbreaker either way.
Further: I may be putting the cart before the horse because it turns out the seats available cannot be purchased with frequent flier mileage. So either it would mean having to pony up $4,500 for 3 seats or staying for THREE weeks/keeping Miss M out of school for an entire week.