As I prepare for tonight’s seder I find myself thinking about the seders of my childhood. They were small, as we never had a large family. My mother was an only child and my father’s family was from Oklahoma, and only his sister and her son lived nearby.
Mostly we spent holidays with my mother’s family, which consisted of her alcoholic mother (my beloved grandmother Nana, pronounced “Nanner”), and her sister Loretta, who we called Riri (pronounced “Ree Ree”), and their husbands, Ikey and Mealy. I think Riri was an alcoholic too, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to ask my father, as he’s probably the only one left to ask now. I’ll send him an email and find out when I’m done with this post.
Anyway, the women drank a lot of Manischewitz wine. That was the primary activity. The men would try to conduct the seder, and the women would drink. The more the women drank, the harder it was for the men to get participation for the rituals that they were trying to walk us through.
We searched for matzo, my brothers and I. Finding the matzo was an incredible thrill as they really gave us large cash prizes, like twenty dollars. That would be like getting a hundred dollars today, maybe more. We searched frantically, because there were three of us and only one prize. Sometimes there were four of us if my cousin Adam was there. The competition was fierce.
We ate chocolate covered macaroons. What could be better than toasted coconut with dark chocolate on top? I have a plate of them in my kitchen right now, waiting to be consumed.
I never realized why my mother and her mom and aunt were laughing so hard throughout the seders, but now I understand. Alcohol is alcohol, even if it is disguised as sweet, thick, sticky syrupy Manischewitz wine, which even we as children were allowed to sample. Truly, I was oblivious to the addiction that surrounded me as a child, but I’m not unhappy about that at all.
Ignorance is bliss.