|You can see how this might get complicated.|
I expected them to sing the Four Questions.
|RH displaying the four questions|
And so, every time we watched, "It's Passover, Grover!" I insisted they pay extra attention to the four questions. I sang along with them. I coached them. I even got RH her own little four question book- mostly for the benefit of her big sisters.
The four questions are based on the overall question, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" The next four questions are elaborations of that. "On all other nights, we eat bread- why do we eat matzo tonight?" "On all other nights, we eat any vegetables, why on this night do we eat bitter vegetables?" "On all other nights, we don't dip our herbs. Why do we dip them twice tonight?" "On all other nights, we eat sitting up, so why do we recline tonight?"
Remember, all of this is in Hebrew.
As they learned the four questions, they made adorable and absurd mistakes. Rather than, "Shebechol halelot anu ochleen..." she would sing, "Beautiful halelot a new oh clean..." It was adorable.
They got a little stage fright at the seder, but...
It was sweet and adorable- as is generally hoped and expected. I'm sure next year they'll be even better- RH still won't be old enough to take up the four question mantle.
There was only one hiccup in my preparations for Passover- Eater. In the kerfuffle of planning a seder, teaching my kids the four questions, helping them learn all ten plagues (Angel of Death- really, you are a giant bummer to three year olds), and preparing them for living on matzo for a week (because of course Passover lasts for a week)... I also had to make Easter arrangements.
That meant working with a dear friend of mine to put together a smallish, toddler friendly Easter egg hunt.
...except they asked me, "What's Easter?" and I said, "I think your daddy should explain it to you."
Of course I did. Why on earth would M want me to explain Easter? I would no doubt do it without any sense of happiness or excitement. Because, as we all know, I'm Jewish. My relationship with Easter is strained at best. I don't believe that Jesus was the messiah, I don't believe that he rose from the dead, and I don't believe in any sort of divinity associated with him. Those are Christian beliefs, and I simply don't share them. So I told the girls, "Daddy will tell you about Easter," and promptly moved on.
|The inside of University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel|
The day before Easter, we had a lovely Easter Egg hunt (more on that later), and the girls seemed totally appeased. The news that they would have ANOTHER opportunity to wear their fancy Passover dresses was beyond belief. I started worrying that they had no clue what was going on, and that M's parents, who were in town for the weekend, might suddenly find it weighing upon them to teach their grandchildren about Jesus. But we kept busy- first the egg hunt, then the HUGE Easter dinner... it was excitement and fun until bed.
And so, on Easter morning, we got into our "princess clothes," and walked to church.
And so, the girls bounced practically all the way to church. They colored happily on paper bags for a post-service Easter egg hunt, and they gaped open mouthed at the astounding colors streaming in through the enormous windows.
As I pointed out details of the stained glass, showed them all the pipes all around us (streaming beautiful music all the while), their eyes widened and their jaws dropped. But there was also some concern, some obvious confusion. RH sat on Grandma's lap, DD sat on Grandpa's lap, and SI sat between me and Grandpa. M was on the aisle, to give his leg the most space. I began to wish desperately that it was M sitting next to the kids. I had a feeling that something very awkward was about to happen.
|RH is in awe of the church|
"Mommy? Are we slaves?"
"Oh no, we're not slaves. This is about a different story. This is about the Easter story, not the Passover story."
A pause. A slanted look at the enormous sanctuary. More furrowed brows.
"Are we in Egypt?"
"No, honey, we're in a church. This isn't Passover, it's Easter."
"It's not Passover?"
"Well, yes, it is Passover. But we're here for church for Easter," I said in the quietest voice I could muster.
A pause, waiting for the bomb to drop.
"Mommy? What's Easter?"
Crap. "Well, um, Easter is a different holiday."
"With Easter eggs?"
"Yes, but that's not why we're here. We're here because of the Easter story."
Crap crap crap crap crap... "Um, it's a holiday about Jesus."
Suddenly, I was in panic mode. Did I really want my in-laws to experience the horror of their granddaughters asking, in church, on Easter, "Who's Jesus?"
"Do you remember baby Jesus from Christmas?" Bingo.
"Well, the Easter story is that he grew up and died and then came back, and that's Easter."
The look of abject horror on DD's face was stunning.
"But then came back, and that's the story for Easter."
"Baby Jesus DIED????"
"He grew up, and then died, and then came back."
"Yes honey, but it's okay."
"BABY JESUS DIED?"
"Yes he died but then he came back and now it's Easter!" I hissed, desperate not to draw the attention of the rest of the church-goers.
She seemed satisfied for one glorious, fleeting moment.
|This expression is the precursor to all unanswerable questions|
Got it. That's what God wanted. Everybody can be happy with that, right?
DD looked concerned, but pacified. As I began to relax again, enjoying the beautiful strains of Vivaldi echoing through the stunning room, I heard it again- that stage whisper.
"Is God like the bush on the mountain?"
"Yes, like the burning bush."
"Mommy? Where is God?"
Really? Now? "God is everywhere, honey."
"God is in Egypt?"
"Yes, and God is at home, and outside, and in the sky, and in the trees, and in you... God is everywhere all the time. God is here now."
"God is HERE?" She looked around as though she might catch a glimpse.
"Yes, but we can't see God. God's invisible."
She seemed utterly satisfied, and returned to coloring her paper bag.
The service continued beautifully. Some poetry, more Vivaldi, a spectacular soprano solo... and then the pastor took to the microphone to deliver the Easter sermon. She spoke with a clear, crisp British accent, and her voice was beautiful. It echoed gently through the room.
"Is that God?!"
Grandpa stifled a snort of laughter, and I heard the parishioners behind us giggling.
"No, honey. That's not God."
And with an angelic smile, it was back to coloring again.
Too bad they don't outfit churches with rocks to crawl under.
|Happy Easter from DD, RH, and SI|