Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Celebrations

There are a lot of things to celebrate in Spring.  The snow has finally melted and we are hopeful it won't come back; the spring bulbs are all in bloom; the trees are all sprouting leaves and flowers; and baseball season has finally started.  And of course Spring brings special celebrations each year with family and friends.  This year we first enjoyed one of our favorite celebrations, a Passover Seder, with our dear friends, Fouad and Mary.  Fouad and Mary never fail to make this evening one that we always remember.  The food is wonderful, the tradition has meaning, and Fouad always incorporates a new adventure into the evening. How could you not know that it is going to be a special evening when you are met at the door by Moses?

Those of you who know Fouad understand that he is a Pied Piper for children.  Regardless of the occasion, Fouad has the children around him.

Now Moses doesn't just look good.  Moses provides us with some traditional events like a ceremonial lighting of candles by all of the attending families.

Fouad and Mary!
The Kappels, Marianne, Hayes and Reeder!
Linda, Fouad's Sister from New Jersey!

Sarah and Anthony!

But next Fouad shows us he really isn't kidding about this Moses things.  We all know exactly what Moses looks like, Charleston Helton with long hair and a big beard, plus carrying a big stick.

OK,  so he can look a lot like Moses, but can he really make the Red Sea part so we can all walk across on dry land into the promise land?  Sure he can.

OK,  so the Red Sea does look like a green carpet, but Moses wacked it with the stick and we all crossed into the promise land (well some of us danced and skipped over the parted sea).

Another of the Ezra's traditions is protecting us from the plagues that were cast upon the "Egyptians" before "we" were released by Pharaoh.  At the Ezra's house we protect ourselves by holding a "tent" over the Seder table while we repeat each of the plagues.  You might also note fingers in the wine glasses.  We dip into the wine and flick it onto the plate with the wine representing the plagues that we cast away as we say them, and flicking the wine onto the plate is a way to get rid of it. 

Hand washing is also one of the traditions of the Seder, and Fouad loves to get the children involved in the celebrations.  Here Reeder and Alexa (granddaughter of one of our P&G friends, retired) pass the water bowl and help us with the towel.

And for the second wash it was Anthony (the little guy is behind Fouad's arm) and his mom, Sarah.

And of course, at Fouad and Mary's house, the children never leave without something special for them.  This year it was a bag with some goodies.  Reeder and Alexa became friends quite quickly and enjoyed the chocolate together on the big overstuffed chair.

And finally, it would be terrible not to mention the Passover meal itself.  Mary prepares this meal every year by herself and the table is open to as many as can come.  Mary makes the best roasted lamb that forces me to overeat every year.  And of course Mary also makes the very best Matzo Ball Soup- And my favorite the pistachio cookies!
Now Don has done a perfect job explaining the special joy that is Passover with Mary and Fouad.  It is always an evening filled with new friends and old, good food and much laughter- and of course hope- hope for that promised land as we repeat the many blessings for the richness of our life in this our Cincinnati home.

Passover week also always falls about the same time as Easter (amazing coincidence) every Spring and Easter is another opportunity to get together with family. I might mention as an aside that there is not a single religion- or culture- that does not celebrate the arrival of spring- and the eggs (fertility of course) predates much of the religious significance that has been layered on this spring rite. We feel especially fortunate to celebrate in both the Jewish and the Christian traditions each year. This year we celebrated Easter with Marianne, Reeder, Hayes and Weiler, Marianne's parents Jerry and Marcia and special guests from Florida, Shannon and Wyatt (Marianne's good friend from Florida and her son), as well as Anthony and Deseree accompanied by two of Deseree's friends Selena and Sierra.  And what better way to celebrate Easter than with a BRUNCH! It was Max's turn to cook and it was a breakfast that even an eggnostic could enjoy.
But first there was a tradition that Max started last year.  Since Easter baskets are pretty common and not very useful once the goodies are gone, Max decided that the holiday needed Easter bags, cloth bags with drawstrings filled with appropriate goodies.  Below Reeder and Anthony are showing off their bags of loot.

Weiler had a special request since he was already pretty full of Easter candy that had already been processed by Marianne.  Weiler likes to hold things in his hands when he goes to sleep and blankets are just a little to mature for this little guy.  So Max knitted him some mini-blankets to satisfy his need for security.

While Weiler was being cuddled by Shannon, the other kids had an Easter egg hunt in the house. It has been raining for about 3 weeks now and who wants to hunt eggs in the mud?  OK, so of course Hayes would love to hunt eggs in the mud, but that just wasn't going to happen.

The plants in our sun room provided lots of hiding places...

And as Anthony shows below, eggs were found.

But the purpose of this brunch was brunching.  Max made two wonderful egg caseroles and this spectacular fruit salad.

But the real hit (at least in my opinion) was the home made cinnamon rolls.

They were absolutely as good as this close up shows.  All of that wonderful stuff in the center is just heavenly - sugar, butter and cinnamon.

But if you are a three year old boy that has spent a good bit of the morning taking advantage of the goodies from baskets and bags, you might not be very hungry for egg casseroles. I do believe these are my favorite pictures of both celebrations as Hayes desperately pleaded- "more candy please". 

You might just rather have one more of those chocolate eggs, or just a few more peeps.  Who wants to each brunch stuff when that bag holds such better things?


Brandy said...

Wow! Who needs Charleston Heston when you have Fouad? Great pics of Weiler, he's really getting big! The food looks delish, especially the fruit salad (this coming from the person who's been denied fruit for the past week!). Hayes' pleading face is the best, we had a lot of that down here! More candy please!

Fouad said...

It is the company and our wonderful "extended family" that make Passover Seder evening an event to enjoy and remember. Thanks for coming and helping us to celebrate year after year.

Lucas said...

It is one of my goals in life to get to Fouad's celebration one year. Totally looks like my cup of tea, er wine. I'm totally serious!

And all the pictures bring home one theme, family is everything and my oh my aren't we surrounded by the biggest bounty of love and riches any family was ever blessed with? Miss you guys!!!