Thursday, March 28, 2013
Reinventing happiness, once again
I knew what was going to happen before it did, and I had settled things in my mind. Monday and Tuesday were the Passover seders—big, elaborate, ritual-filled dinners. You and your family sit around the table, recount the story of the exodus from Egypt, make blessings, sing songs and stuff your face.
Max has yet to sit through a seder. And sure enough, a few minutes into the first one, he wanted to leave the table. Convincing him to stay would have resulted in a meltdown, disrupting the night. So I let him sit in the room next door with his iPad. I would have been fine if he wanted to sit with us with earphones on, but no go. I belatedly realized that I might have enticed him to stay longer if I'd made up some sort of Cars 2 Haggadah, but by that point I didn't have time between work and cooking.
I'd expected Max to leave. I'd replayed the scene in my head, so it wouldn't upset me. Sure enough that night was no different than the others, and as I sat around the table watching everyone singing songs, I felt sad. I wanted Max with us, too.
Of course, Max was perfectly content. This wasn't about him, really. It was about me and my holiday fantasies, which I have yet to let go of. I knew that. It didn't help.
Tuesday night, different bunch of family, same scene. We each picked up our haggadah, the book that guides the order of the meal and tells the Passover story. As Dave was giving Max some dinner, Max started pointing to the cover of the haggadah. I looked at mine. "Family Haggadah," it read.
Max was pointing to the word "family." Then he pointed to me, Dave, Sabrina, the others. And suddenly, I knew that he understood one of the most important things of all about the holiday, the one that especially matters to me: It's about celebrating as a family.
Max wandered off into the other room, and we started. As we sang the familiar songs and the sound of the Cars 2 soundtrack drifted in, I felt OK. Content, even.