Saturday, April 15, 2017

Wandering through the Living Room Desert

Signs to provoke thought during our festive meal
When Passover was just a pimply-faced adolescent holiday, its yearbook tag line was “Most Likely to Cause Crumbs.”  This year, yet again, it is living up to its high school reputation.  Passover has always struck me as a holiday that is nearly impossible without loads of modern conveniences – a mixer to whip thousands of egg whites, a freezer, a refrigerator, and, for those crumbs, a vacuum cleaner.

Passover is the remembrance of that time when the Israelites left slavery in Egypt to make their 40-year trek through the desert to the Promised Land.  This year, on our seder night, we used modern conveniences to pretend that our very suburban American living room was an Israelite tent in the desert.  I drew the line at bringing actual sand in the house, so we used numerous sheets and blankets to lay a floor of “sand.”  Husband went out and splurged on some thick Bedouiny cushions.

The one thing a tent would have is a swoopy roof.  The best I could do is put gobs of red streamers up.  They are still up. Passover is still acting like a sullen teen, and refuses to help take them down.
Desert animals, sort of
One of us, I’m not sure who, decided that we should invite some desert animals into our tent. I thought a camel and a snake would be appropriate. YD insisted on a desert cat, desert rabbits, and a dragon.  The Husband insisted on dogs, tortoises and dolphins.  FYI, dolphins in the desert are biblical:

Exodus 25:5 International Standard Version (ISV)

ram skins dyed[a] red, dolphin[b] skins, and acacia wood;
Desert animals? A sea tortoise?
We borrowed some Biblical costumes from church, and offered our guests the option of wearing them.  Our teenaged guests were not sullen at all, but were up for wearing costumes.

Hooray for participatory teens
Two of our guests were young children.  They did not want to wear a costume, but they were quite appreciative of all the desert animals.  The whole thing was loads more fun with young kids there.  But I think they would have been bored if we had done the seder the usual way, locked into our seats at the formal dining room table.
Moses (army man) in the desert with the burning bush
YD told the Passover story. The Jurassic Park game board represented Egypt, dinosaurs were Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and, paradoxically, army men for the Israelites.  The plagues were represented by various candies.  A chocolate sheep played the role of the Passover lamb, which YD crushed mercilessly.  Red Twizzlers for the lamb’s blood on the lintels and doorposts.  My mother-in-law is rolling over in her grave at this kind of retelling, but the little kids loved it.
Israelites (army men) about to cross the sea
Matzo, horseradish, and haroset were shared by all in our tent.  That Hillel sandwich makes a LOT of crumbs.

It may have been a crumby holiday, but it was not a crummy holiday at all. 

We ate our actual dinner in the dining room.

Signs in the dining room, including a quote
from Frederick Douglass, of recent fame.

More signs to provoke thought.

1 comment:

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

That's a great mash-up of festive desert. That's a perfect way to celebrate freedom from bondage and a lot of suffering but also recognizing the darkness of it at the same time.