See? I left my incorrect-time-Israel-clock alone for a few weeks until they went on daylight saving time just before Pesach, and now it's correct. Aren't I smart? (Just lazy, actually).
Did I tell you I was in somewhat of a depression weeks before Pesach? Probably not. Well, I was. I knew the kids were not coming in, and we were not going there. So why prepare for Pesach? I didn't have the cheshek to do it. A week and a half before Pesach, some friends called (until then, I hadn't cleaned much of anything nor invited anyone for the sedarim) and actually asked to be invited to our seder. We had already been invited out for the second seder to a friend, and although I really only enjoy our sedarim (our minhagim and nigunim-traditions and melodies) and don't eat just anywhere on Pesach, I accepted my friend's invitation (no kashrut questions here), because without the kids at home I just couldn't think of two seders, let alone one. But I was so honored by my first friend's request to come to our seder-they had been to our seders the last two years, at least (I forget how many others), that I said, well, ok-I guess we have to have a seder, so come! It escalated to a few more people, but by our past standards of twenty people at a seder, was very, very modest. And also, I was thinking to myself, how are we going to sing all the nigunim without the kids? My kids sing together with me, and have (baruch Hashem) beautiful voices which sound like harmony heaven (as you have probably figured out, my husband can't carry a tune from the dining room to the kitchen.)
I expressed this worry to my friend who had invited herself, and she suggested that I tape all our nigunim and give it to her, and she will learn them and sing along-a great idea, which I did late at night Sunday, after bedikat hametz. Of course, she had to work erev Pesach and didn't have time to listen to the tape. What can you do? But it all worked out fine. The seder was our usual length (approximately 6 hours) and (almost) everyone really enjoyed themselves despite the exhaustion. And everyone (almost) tried to sing along, even if they didn't know the nigunim.
And despite my own worries about the second seder, it was very enjoyable, partially because it was led by our friend, a learned Israeli (my cup of tea!) and he encouraged the guests to interject and offer their insights, drashot, divrei Torah, and also sing their own nigunim adding to his family's own--all throughout the seder. We went around the table, each guest reading a paragraph or so in the Haggadah. Those who couldn't read the Hebrew read the English translation, and although their seder was much shorter than ours, around four hours, it was really enjoyable.
What "made my day" was when I spoke to my kids on Skype this morning, and my youngest told me that the seder she had attended (in a hotel on the Kinneret with a friend's whole extended family) made her day--she said it was so similar to ours--loaded with meaning, laughter and singing, some of which nigunim we sing at our own seders...and to top that off, at night after they made havdalah, they whipped out instruments, and started playing and singing the zmirot (they even sang sefirat ha-omer. I gotta learn that one.).
But isn't Pesach somewhat anticlimactic? You start off with a BANG-the seder on the first night--and end with a whimper; unless you do something interesting to commemorate kriyat yam-suf on the seventh night--which we used to do years ago when we davened at a different shul, but now, partially I think because we're older (and fatter)--we don't do so much. Maybe we should nap after lunch and try to get to shul to go to our local yam-suf. Problem is, the shul isn't so close: it's a mile-and-a-quarter away!
Hey, I've got an idea: there's a small, man-made 'lake' with a fountain in the complex where we live; maybe we should just fall out the door, and take the long trek of 25 feet to the puddle--er, lake--and recite Shirat Ha-Yam there? Or is that cheating...(?!)
It's always good to end a (ahem) serious discourse with a song. So here it is: enjoy!