Passover was a really big deal when I was a kid

We had the second seder at our house, with upwards of 20 aunts, uncles and cousins swarming over the place. Our cousins Janet and Barry even brought their dog; Mom couldn’t stand dogs but she made an exception for Dusty.

Dusty is still one of my alltime favorite dogs, although I believe Janet and Barry prefer Custer, their next dog. And now that I think of it, Custer is a weird name for a dog.

Jimmy Fallon said in an interview once that when he was growing up, his parents didn’t have friends. They had brothers and sisters and cousins. Says I to myself on hearing that: Holy crap. I thought that was just us. My parents socialized frequently, but it was almost always with people genetically related. Though my Dad did have one or two old friends he grew up with, whom he saw once or twice a year.

Mom was usually not a great cook, but she did a great job with the seder, working for days and putting on the full spread. Mom and Dad seldom drank, but they had a little wine with dinner – Manischewitz and Mogen David, of course! – and laughed a lot. My uncle Nat and Aunt Harriet were the only real drinkers in the family; my parents kept a bottle of vodka in the house for when they came to visit. We told the same jokes every year and never got tired of them.

To this day I am only a social drinker. I like beer and wine and Jameson’s and I went on a martini kick for a few years. But I don’t drink when I’m at home and I can go for weeks and months without having alcohol, and I do not miss it. 🌕

We kept kosher for Passover for the full eight days. The rest of the year we were lax. I like to say that we were pizza-and-chinese-food-on-paper-plates kosher – the foods we kept in the house were kosher, and we kept the proper two sets of plates, one for meat and one for dairy. But we brought in pizza and Chinese food regularly, and when we did, we ate it on paper plates. When I was an adult, it took me some time to get used to eating pizza on regular dishes.

I loved matzoh during Passover, and gobbled it up plain, or with margarine, rendered chicken fat or cream cheese. I never got tired of matzoh during Passover, but I stopped eating it and switched back to bread the moment I could, and never had matzoh, or wanted it, the rest of the year.

Mitch W @MitchW