At the Seder, Rituals Familiar to All Except Me

On Monday night I celebrated passover with my partner and 11 other jews and gentiles. I wasn’t sure that I was up for it, never being a big fan of religion in any form, yet after it was concluded and the fancy china was all put away, I was happy to have been there.  I liked hearing young men read sentences in Hebrew, and liked how the many different foods were worked into the ceremony, and especially, I liked how to anyone who had ever been to a seder everything was a familiar ritual.  I liked the way each person at the table read just a bit of the book, and how even after so many passovers, jews still enjoy talking about Pharoah, and being enslaved, and leaving the chains of bondage to breathe free. It was moving.

Rituals, I enjoy, perhaps because when I grew up my life was full of daily, weekly and yearly traditions that we observed faithfully.  That sameness, that consistency, is satisfying, knowing just what will happen and what’s coming up makes it fun.  Our lives are marked by these things we do every year–a place we go each August, a party we attend every July, and of course the holidays that we share with everyone like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

My father once told me that the secret to happiness is to have something to look forward to, every day, whether it’s a big trip, or a small gathering, or just the familiar ritual of a regular lunch date.  I take his words to heart, and plan ahead, making dates, setting activities in motion, and anticipating them as I would a beautiful meal set before me. It’s a small secret but it makes a lot of sense.