Well friends, I pulled it off. Our family of 6 just survived the Feast of Unleavened Bread (that’s seven days of no bread in a house that lives 50% off PB&Js, mind you) and had a killer Pesach celebration to boot. The kids had fun, we had fun, and we had *hardly any complaints about the lack of yeasted doughy goodness in the house. I amazed even myself.
I’m an outside-the-box person by nature, and holidays and celebrations are always tricky for me. I just can’t ever fully subscribe to one particular plan or another, and even when I create my own pseudo-traditions, truthfully, I tend to wing it once things get started. I can’t help it. When I worked in corporate HR, the single greatest thing for me was working in the field- getting out of my office and visiting my team unscripted, just seeing what was what and troubleshooting from there. The best boss I ever had used to give me hell for winging it- he would say “you can wing it, but you have to know what you’re talking about, and girl…you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
That was me with our Seder last year. Holy smokes. I tried to follow someone else’s plan, and I totally blew it. Then I tried to fix it by winging it, and I blew it even more. See last year I ordered everything- a perfect, all-organic Seder meal from Whole Foods (we all hated it), and a Haggadah that came highly recommended on Amazon (except for Jewish people, so not exactly right for us). When I realized that there was no mention of Messiah in our Passover readings, I tried to find the notes from our Bible study and make it about that for the kids, but it wound up being a long, drawn out, boring affair for them, and after four cups of really good wine, a complete snooze-fest for me and the hubs too. Memorable, yes. Ideal for family celebration? …meh.
So this year was different. To frame it for you: I’ve finally come into my own as an unschooler. Apparently it takes four years of homeschooling to determine that 1) you don’t hate it, and 2) you can really do it however it is that you want. Who knew??? So the same Lauren that loved getting out in the field and hearing from my team and getting people to thrive exactly where they were has finally come to the same place as a homeschool mom. I don’t use curriculum, I stick with what my goals are for my kids and use their interests to achieve them. And that is what I did with our Seder this year. Have I spent too long building up to this? Can you tell I am super excited and thrilled with how it all went???
So here goes. A breakdown of a simple, kid-friendly Passover celebration that was easy to put together and will serve as my focal point for years to come:
First, the essentials:
- The perfect Haggadah: every Seder needs a Haggadah- an order for the meal. Think of it as the program for a play or the bulletin for a church service. It keeps everything on track. Mine is Lex Meyer’s Pesach for Believers in Yeshua. It’s short, simple, and sola scriptura, which for us is a must.
- An Exodus story companion: obvs the Bible is the first choice, but my squad actually really enjoys these two books: Let My People Go! and The Longest Night, both of which have sing-song rhyme and do an excellent job telling the story for kids (without a bunch of extra-biblical fluff)
- A Seder plate: filled with two types of bitter herbs (the bitterness of slavery- which on our plate was brussels sprouts and horseradish), salt water (the tears and sweat shed during slavery), an egg (Yahweh’s constant provision of life), charoset (mortar for bricks), a lamb shank bone (for the passover lamb). My friend Faith helped me spot the best option EVER for a plate, and ultimately I realized you could make any kind of seder plate you want. Go wild. *Instead of actual charoset, which none of my children would eat, I opted for applesauce, which was gone in an instant, and it still did the job of representing mortar for bricks.
- Wine: or grape juice. Because 1) four cups of wine are about the last thing I need right now, and 2) I actually wanted our kids to sip from the cup of affliction and the cup of praise (and the other cups too). It’s more fun when they can participate. So we did juice in a cup and passed it around.
- Matzo: it’s a no-brainer. But especially as a Messianic passover, it’s super important to highlight the breaking of the bread (this is my body) and the partaking of the cup (this is my blood). 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 lays out the Last Supper, and it fits so perfectly into the Passover meal, that it’s not quite the same if you leave this part out.
Then the fun:
- Games and toys: It’s a celebration! So we had noisemakers, jumping frogs, and little silver pom-poms used as hail that we used to generate a wild rumpus as we read about the 10 plagues. We put red stickers on each other for the plague of boils and covered our eyes and wandered around for the darkness.
- Music: We LOVE Mama Doni in this house. I know she’s not Messianic. But we love her anyway. And her Passover music is the best kids Pesach celebration EVER. The hubs and I danced and cried with joy to her Come My Beloved and Let My People Go while our minions went totally bananas. It was a party to end all parties.
- Food: Seven days of unleavened bread can be a bit of a downer in a house of toddlers. But if you make seven days of nachos, orange chicken and sticky rice, naked hot dogs and BBQ chips, and all the matzo pizza you can eat, it’s totally survivable. (Although by Saturday we were all jonesing for any bread we could get our hands on.)
Lastly, the tie-in:
We hung a red scarf over our doorpost to remember the Passover lamb before we drank the cup of praise. And at the part of the meal where the Jewish people open the door for Elijah and leave the cup for him, we thank God for His plan and His provision; that He keeps His promises and He seeks to reconcile us back to Him. I could cry and cry just thinking about it. Then while the hubs and I were all emotional, we sent the kids out to find the Afikomen- the hidden broken matzo that we resurrect and celebrate over. The celebration was so big at our house, with so much dancing and noise-making that our kids didn’t want to go to bed. And the next morning, they woke up and played “send the plagues to Pharaoh’s house” for hours. Heart. Full.
My mantra this year has come from 1 John 5:3- This is love for God, to obey His commands, and His commands are not burdensome. Such a simple passage, but it can be so tricky. The commands are not burdensome part gets me. I always feel like somehow I should be saddling myself with some sort of affliction in order to be doing a good job. But it so doesn’t have to be that way. Have mercy…life is for living! So if you’re celebrating the feasts, (or if you’re doing…literally whatever) don’t let the impossibility of doing it 100% right get you down. And if you do it and you fail miserably, don’t give up on the idea. It shouldn’t be burdensome to live our lives the way we feel called to lead them. You have your things, I have mine, but friends, it’s just life. Celebrate. Live it up. Mess it up and do it again. It’s so much more fun that way. (And if you’re counting the omer right now, know we’re in it with you for the next 48 days!)