Our family hasn’t had a decent meal together since Justin Trudeau was elected prime minister over Stephen Harper. Then when Donald Trump was elected president of the U.S., there were times when I thought my family would come to blows.
This year, the seder is at my home (we take turns) and I don’t want this to end in a feud like all our other family gatherings.
What happened to discussing the NHL playoffs over dinner? At least the commentary was respectful and uplifting.
To be honest, I’m scared. Politics has caused a serious rift in our family. We are a well-educated, opinionated, diverse group who clearly have little respect for each other’s opinions, not to mention poor listening skills. How am I going to get through this seder?
No Passover Politics
Dear No Passover Politics
Passion and politics go hand-in-hand and often people are so convinced that their views are the only logical ones that they tend to defend their opinions to the death, rather than open their minds and listen to another viewpoint. The seder is not the place to further one’s political agenda. According to an article in Psychology Today, one reason why political discord can be so damaging is because we are not simply engaging in an intellectual disagreement, but rather bumping up against differences at the level of brain chemistry.
Regardless of whether there is a physiological reason that people with opposing views can’t have a meal together, this is your home, your rules.
Before the start of the seder, stand up, speak firmly, make eye contact and deliver your statement. You can preface your message any way you like, perhaps by thanking everyone for coming and wishing all a hag sameach. Then, lower the gavel and, in a slightly louder tone, announce that, “No politics may be spoken in this house tonight. This seder is about a celebration of freedom and we are lucky enough to be celebrating together tonight. I appreciate you respecting our family and the rules of our home.” Then look each guest in the eye and ask if he or she agrees to your rules.
Now sit down and enjoy Pesach with your family. Hag kasher v’sameach!
This year, the first seder falls on the same night as Good Friday and this poses a big problem for me, as all of my usual go-to helpers that I hire to assist with our 24 guests are unavailable.
I am panicking and have no idea what I’m going to do. I can’t manage serving and clearing every course and entrée on my own. I’ll never make it through the night.
I’m sure that some of the guests will offer to help, but I don’t want them to come to our seder and work.
Any thoughts or tips on how I can manage this would be appreciated.
Need More Hands
Dear Need More Hands,
Organizing and pulling off a seder for a large number of guests without any help requires a ton of advance preparation
and a willingness to part from usual routines.
Consider serving the meal buffet style, rather than bringing in each item and passing it from person to person. Set up a spare table, which you can rent if necessary, put a nice tablecloth on it and place it somewhere, even in the hall or living room, where you can place all the entrées and sides and let everyone help themselves. The gefilte fish and soup can be served to each guest individually, but when it comes to the main meal, it may be too difficult to have it plated at the table.
Consider using strong disposable dishes. Cleanup and clearing are huge when you are talking about so many courses and so many people.
Do the best you can. Everyone will pitch in. As long as your seder is filled with family and friends, you’ll be surprised how haimish and meaningful it will be without the extra paid help.