Now I will say this, I haven't spent Passover in well over three years if only because my time was spent in the dark depths of the labs back at my college. Now that I'm in Israel, it only stood to reason I would finally celebrate it: Israel Style.
It was established in the beginning that I would be spending the break with my Aunt, after learning that my Grandma doesn't like the holidays and suddenly gets "sick" (an actual problem that exists, apparently). But from what I've heard, the people in Israel treat the Jewish new year and PO as if it's Christmas, ergo work places giving presents to their employees (some places at least, don't hold me word to it), and honestly I wasn't expecting anything big. Maybe a card, but nothing more. To my surprise, I got a gift card of 250 shekels from my boss (and in my stupidity, I mistook the expiration date as April 13 and not April 2013. Winner is me). With that sweet present, I finished my work and made my way to spend the weekend with the Aunt and Uncle. Again, like Christmas, you give presents to people... only not under a tree or anything botanic. With the help of my mom, I bought my uncle a CD and for the girls I bought them identical headbands (there was no way I was going to put up with the two arguing who's is better), with my aunt however, I went on the day of to the mall with a family friend's daughter to the mall so that I can pick up a bouquet of flowers for her as well as my aunt's mom (who was hosting me). While there we also picked up the headbands.
Totally like Christmas, it was jammed packed! Elbow to elbow, prices SKYROCKETING (honestly, 80 shekels for one bouquet?) and people pushing and shoving for the last item. People are crazy... so after helping my friend find some clothes and buying what I needed, I stopped by her place so I can FINALLY say hello to my second mom. We sat, chatted it up a bit, and caught up on several things, one of which was my friend's older brother who gave me what I consider the tightest hug ever since I came here. Like, spine bent in a weird way... might have something to do with him being incredibly tall now. He then made a dinosaur noise (it's... it's a long story) and left to play soccer with friends, at the same time I did meet his girlfriend, albeit very VERY briefly. Afterwards, I went back home so that I can change clothes and give the presents.
When I made it back to the apartment, I quietly opened the door and made it for my room (keep in mind, all of this taking place at my aunt and uncle's place). I quickly changed my clothes took out all the necessary presents. The girls finally found me when they heard the first floor bathroom in use and asked me their usual twenty one questions (with, of course, the predictable head butt that is the oldest one's version of a hug). I gave them their presents to which they both fell madly in love with and ran to my aunt, begging her to fix their hair according to the headband. With that done, I gave my aunt her flowers (the girls asked me if I had presents for my aunt and uncle earlier to which I said yes, but it was a surprise) and she loved them, and waited for my uncle to come downstairs so I can give him his present. We ended up driving while listening to the music on full blast. While driving, we Skyped call my mom to show her the crazy traffic that would only appear in Israel for Passover as well as wishing her a Happy Passover. I was already informed about the people we were going to, but I wasn't expecting what I got; the view was phenomenal and the apartment had a clean, modern, but home-y feel to it.
My aunt's parents were the sweetest hosts I've had the pleasure of meeting and apparently have already heard of me, to their surprise, I was speaking to them most of the time in Hebrew (the running theme of people from Israel is that only people from Israel can speak fluent Hebrew, the rest of the world is retarded when it comes to speaking Hebrew). I offered my help as much as I could to my aunt's mom before my uncle and my aunt's dad decided to show me the balcony. To which, again, view was phenomenal.
(...I seem to have lost the picture...)
After looking at the sight, we then went back inside when my aunt's brother and his wife and son (who was one) came. I was told that one of my aunt's sisters won't be able to show up because she is celebrating with her husband's in-laws, but I was alright with it because that saved the issue of which of the two they were calling (our name is the same). My aunt eventually showed up with her other sister (who's car was missing) and we all chatted a bit before heading to the dinner table.
My uncle stated it perfectly "It wasn't the Tower of Babel that got us mixed up with languages, it was the fifty Hagadahs".
What transpired was easily one of the more amusing PO I ever had in my life. I mean, sure I had my friend with me to make the night bearable and always managed to entertain myself, but this time there was something amusing about it. The running joke about PO which I'm pretty sure is in everyone else's household, is that there are more than ten different versions of the haggadah in possession... this house literally had ten different versions so between my aunt's dad reading from a sixty (that's right, 60) year old, Arabic haggadah, my two cousins shouting for the afikoman, my uncle sitting there talking about the death of Mac, me completely zoning out due to the amount of Hebrew I've never heard in my life (or if I did, had NO idea what it meant), my aunt's youngest sister yelling that her dad is using an ancient book, and my aunt's mom trying to be as calm as possible, we spent easily four hours trying to get passed Ma Nistana.
Once we passed one of the parts in the haggadah, as we were jumping back and forth with none of us having a single clue where we're suppose to be on, the girls got impatient and decided now was the perfect time to be as obnoxious as possible for the afikoman. The way they do it, or at least this is their train of thought of how things work to get things, is to take both index fingers, pushed them as hard as possible on both sides of their cheeks (the harder, the more insistent) while smiling, head tilting to the side, and in their squeakiness (not even cute squeaky, I should add) repeat "Bevakasha" which is "Please" in Hebrew. If you should say no, they will only repeat this with pushing in the cheeks harder, tilt the head more, move in closer, and raise the squeakiness of their voice. My aunt's dad (whom I'll just call Sir because that's easier to type over and over again) sighed and kept his cool the whole time, clearly he's use to this kind of shit, in which case, I applaud him. When he finally made it to the matza segment (and matza = afikoman) the girls went apeshit and were telling him-- more like demanding really, where he was planning on hiding the afikoman (by the way, the afikoman is a broken half of the matza during the dinner, one part stays on the dinner table, and the other gets hidden for the youngest children to go search. First one to find it gets a present, but in full honesty, all the kids get presents, so it's more for the pride of it, if anything), deciding to be helpful I asked the oldest if I could have a hug (she headbutts my stomach so her eyes are usually smashed into my stomach) seeing as my Aunt called the middle one over. It worked perfectly, so one headbutt later, the two girls went running off to find the golden cracker.
Several seconds later we hear yelling, shouting, and crying. Emerging from one of the rooms, the oldest one leaves crying her eyes out because the middle one was "cheating" by following her everywhere. So once we were able to calm them down (seriously, all of this over a freaking cracker that tastes like moldy cardboard box) they went back into the fray (it was honestly just those two) with the victor being the oldest, middle one coming in chiming that she helped. So those two, the one year old, and even the baby got presents (dollar store material if you asked me) that consisted of balloon making equipment, clay, and markers. I'll get into that in a minute because those three gifts truly were the highlight of the night.
The weird thing about the PO sedar here was that their train of though was that we should eat and enjoy the meal first, THEN read the haggadah (and those four hours of trying to figure out where the hell we were didn't count in the slightest... apparently) because your mind won't be on the food, but rather on the haggadah itself. While that makes complete sense (believe me, I loved that idea), it also ruins the whole point of why to even do a sedar. It's to relive what the Jews in Egypt had to go through so we can appreciate the meal. Once we finished eating (the meal was exquisite), the kids went off to play while my aunt fed the baby cousin. Which now brings me to their three gifts.
The oldest loves to draw. I found this out when she came running to me one day begging me to teach her how to draw (she heard her big cousin draws, why not get a proper lesson?) so when she she got markers, she started to draw a lot. The third youngest (the one year old), is still learning how to walk and grab at the same time, so as he walked over to her, he picked up her marker and began to make a run for it. Confusing her chasing for a game, he started giggling while clinging crazy hard to her marker, this resulted with the oldest one getting aggravated, which ended with her yelling and crying that he was stealing from her, not getting that he was simply learning how to run and grab. This was the less severe of the two stories that transpired.
I love play-doe, I think it's the best thing that the world has created. And if I like it, then it's only obvious that the girls love it as well. Oldest one was making a turtle and was proud of it, middle one was trying to imitate the oldest one, and out of boredom, I made for the both of them a rose (it's the only thing I remember how to make). Eventually I made my way to the dinner table to join the rest of the adults, cause the oldest one clearly wanted to use all the clay for whatever her artistic mind had in store. Sitting there while we were talking about who knows what (I couldn't keep up with what was going on between Sir reading and talking to himself and my uncle proclaiming that Mac is dead), the oldest runs to my aunt to show her her newest creation, she was really proud of it so my aunt smile and said it was fantastic. With the middle one though... she suddenly felt her creation wasn't as good as the oldest one (she copied to a T what the oldest one made) so she instead asked my aunt to fix it to match perfectly to the oldest one. And every single iteration my aunt did, the middle one threw a tantrum how it was nothing like the oldest one, she got too extreme regarding this that she just ended up taking it and smashing it into a multi-color blob, screaming the whole way about how she (my aunt) ruined the clay, how it's horrible, and so on. Her tantrum got so severe that she flew herself to the floor screaming profanity at the young age of five. My uncle went to her and tried to calm her down by she just screamed louder and shrieked that my uncle should go away and how she hated him (all this, mind you, for a freaking play-doe) we all were mortified by the behavior that my uncle and aunt decided to go with the ignore approach to show the middle one that that kind of action won't do her any good. Eventually my aunt's younger sister took care of the middle one that the middle kid calmed down for a bit.
This was the climax of the night, with the oldest one sitting on the reclining chair with my uncle on the balcony (did I mention how amazing the view was?) the middle one began to play with the balloon equipment, attempting to make simple balloon animals that she saw the oldest one do earlier. It screwed up and she started to throw fits of rage about it but we all thought it would blow over. My aunt's youngest sister, a make up artist, started to paint all the girls' finger nails as a tradition that it's to give good luck. So while the kids were doing whatever it was kids do, the guys just sitting around and chilling, us girls had our finger nails done by my aunt's sister. During my aunt's turn, the middle one stormed over to my aunt demanding her to fix the balloon animal, an attempt my aunt failed almost a half hour ago. She started off with "in a few minutes" but the middle one would have none of that and demanded it right then and there, so instead of dealing with her constant screams, she told her to go to my uncle. He knows how to.
So when the middle one went to the balcony, where my uncle and oldest was cuddling under a blanket in a comfy chair staring at the view, my back was to the window waiting for my nails to dry. Shortly what happened later, not going to lie, I'm laughing right now as I type this; my aunt breaks out laughing incredibly hard. We all thought she finally lost her mind, but she pointed towards the balcony, tears streaming down her face, and I turned around out of curiosity. Lo an behold, my uncle, still in the chair with the oldest one cuddling up next to him, attempting to do an animal balloon and to his side, the middle one shrieking, face turning red, and veins nearly popping out of her neck. Everyone in the house couldn't help but break out laughing. She eventually stomped in holding a little piece of a balloon and yelling that her dad is ruining her life as well as the balloon and stormed out. Aunt's sister chased after her shortly when my uncle came in, slightly daze, and a smirk on his face. He holds the small remaining part of the balloon.
And then we all couldn't stop laughing.