Monday, April 10, 2017

The Definition of Awkward

"Five, not six, Ma! Five for Passover. Don't ask me why 
she isn't coming. She hates us, that's why." 

Today is National Siblings Day and the first day of Passover. Coincidence? The SJG thinks not so much. Some of us, maybe even many of us, are estranged from a sibling and/or a whole klump of relatives. Which means that on National Siblings Day, those in self-imposed exile won't be breaking matzoh with us on Passover, and to that, we must say, "Tough Torah. It's their loss." At some point in the past, those in self-imposed exile made a big tzimmes over something, or they thought we were the tzimmes makers. In any event: Cue The Estrangement!
Isn't it ironic? Don't you think?

Maybe I've told you this, maybe I haven't, but when the SJG thinks of Passover, I get a little uneasy. Passovers at my grandparents' house were always a strained affair. For reasons that were never explained, my father's sister decided to sever ties with everyone, including her own parents. So every Passover, we'd sit on "our" side of my grandma's gigantic dining room table, and my aunt in absentia's husband and three daughters would sit on "their" side. It was the only time we saw them all year. Getting through those seders without mentioning "you know who" was the definition of Awkward. Luckily, the tendency to pretend everything's okay when it isn't has only stayed with me for my entire life.
"Elijah! Is that you?"

On those Passovers long ago, my family wasn't just waiting for Elijah, we were waiting to leave as soon as possible. Eventually, my grandma got too old to do Passover and we were all spared the annual awkwardness. The last time I saw my cousins was at my grandfather's funeral. By the time my grandma passed away, they were estranged from her, too. What was up with those people? I can't tell you because no one ever explained it.
Passover is about freedom. And yet, for some people, the shackles remain. They're enslaved by past hurts and never-ending resentment. After my father died, my eldest brother decided to follow in the footsteps of my ex-aunt and cut off ties, also without explanation. History repeats itself.
So on National Siblings Day, I salute my wonderful brother John, "the middle son," as my father called him, the one who sticks by me and keeps me going, who makes me laugh and shares my love of musicals and so much more.
What I'm trying to say is this: Happy Passover. Happy Siblings Day. May you learn to live with your estrangements as well as I have (more or less). And remember: If today isn't a great day to eat an extra chocolate dipped macaroon, what is?

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