How is this birthday different from all other birthdays?
Passover is one of my favorite holidays. I have fond memories growing up of being with my cousins and scouring our grandparents’ condo for the afikomen. I remember sitting at the kids table giggling through the very long seder. And daring each other to eat the gefilte fish. As I got older I would head home to be with my parents, siblings, and aunts and uncles to sing ‘Dayenu’ (Hebrew for “it would have been enough for us”) at the country club in a room full of snow birds.
Family togetherness, food, and laughter have always been the cornerstones of my Jewish experience. We’re not that religious and I don’t always know what I’m saying when I recite prayers in Hebrew. But I love being Jewish.
Several years ago my very cute non-Jewish boyfriend (now husband) agreed to abstain from bread during Passover. I thought it was a lovely gesture and was excited to bring him in the fold of some of the best matzoh recipes I knew: matzoh pb&j, matzoh pizzas, and matzoh s’mores. After two days he asked for clarification on how long we’d be without bread. He hadn’t read the fine print before he agreed.
Today we have a beautiful family and cherish opportunities to celebrate together. Our daughter arrived three years ago just before Passover & Easter. I knew the day would come that her birthday would line up during Passover. What would we do? I couldn’t stop obsessing that one day she wouldn’t be able to have cake on her birthday.
So here we are three years later and the time has come. Violet has requested to take donuts to her class to celebrate her birthday. Every day on the way to school she points right and says, “Donuts that way.” And then points left and says, “School that way.” I’ve gone back and forth on what to do. Should I send ice cream instead? Will toddlers like macaroons? Does this matter? My answer is, I don’t know.
I have to parcel out what’s important to me as a Jew, for us as parents, and for our daughter who is a small person with limited understanding of the world around her. At the end of the day, I have to go with what I do know. I know my daughter will be happy to share donut holes with her friends at school and then come home to make matzoh pizzas for a special birthday dinner. It will be enough for us. Dayenu. Dayenu.