The fowl adventure and other seder stories


I’ve learned a number of lessons since my last column. None of them are particularly deep or life changing, but I think each time you learn something, you advance a little. So I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned here.

Lesson one: The task you expect to be easiest sometimes turns out to be hardest. 

When it comes to planning our family seder, there’s never a question about the soup. I’ve been making chicken soup for years. No problems. Buy a fowl, and go from there. Not this year. Finding a fowl (also known as a stewing hen) became a major obsession in our house. And at one point, there was concern about whether my soup would make it to the seder table.

Because I was unable to drive due to a knee injury, the shopping duties fell to my husband. He tried at least a half-dozen stores to find our fowl. No one had a fowl, but everyone had advice on how to make chicken soup and what type of chicken to use.

He talked to butchers who assured him that fowls were unnecessary and to others who claimed they would have the coveted bird the next morning. Nope. Perhaps I’ll tell about his quest in a future column. But for now, suffice it to say that if my husband didn’t like my soup as much as he does, we probably wouldn’t have had homemade soup for this holiday.

I wasn’t willing to be flexible when it came to the chicken soup – and a fowl was found in the nick of time.

But I learned this year that flexibility is the name of the game when it comes to almost everything else. That’s lesson two.

Ours is the house where the family gathers for the holidays. Despite my broken kneecap, we decided to follow our tradition and open our home again. After all, nobody is getting any younger, and every family gathering is precious.

To make things easier, we made a list of all that needed to get done, and the whole family pitched in with the cooking and everything else that goes into preparing for and hosting a seder.

As preparations were being completed, we were all looking forward to the arrival of my parents. Until we weren’t. A health issue forced my folks to cancel at the last minute. Nothing major, but traveling by plane just wasn’t in the cards.

We were devastated. All preparations stopped. Briefly. Then we turned around and carried on.

With photos, phone calls, text messages and videos, we kept the parents connected to our planning and seder as best we could. We even included my mother in a rousing rendition of “Chad Gadya,” one of her favorite Passover songs.

And we made plans to celebrate my mother’s birthday, which this year fell just before Passover, another time . With families, you have to celebrate what you can any time you gather. That’s lesson three.

Preparing a seder for 13 while hobbling on an injured knee might not have been the wisest choice. But it all worked out. Our adaptations meant this seder was a lot easier on the hosts. We had a nice, fulfilling family weekend, even without my cherished parents. We have a new plan for Mom’s birthday. And we are looking forward to all being together for next year’s seder.

We might even make that shared task list a new family tradition. And next year, I’ll start looking for my fowl in February, before Purim!