This year, Pesach preparations, the hosting of two Seders and two of my daughters’ birthdays all occurred in the same two-week period. Since then, I have found time to reflect on how lucky I am to have the family I was given at birth, the one I married into, and the friends-like-family I’ve collected along the way.
Every year we sing Dayeinu at our Seders, 15 stanzas recalling the incredible generosity of an intervening God, and we don’t say thank you — or ask for more. We simply state that just that one thing would have been enough — even without the other stuff. And I think this kind of humble gratitude is the recipe for a happy life.
My sister-in-law, who arrived before Pesach with every imaginable kosher for Pesach delight from London, as well as my nine-year-old’s present-instead-of-a-party dream Lego set, turned birthdays during Pesach into something to hope for in the future, rather than something to be dreaded. Dayeinu!
My mother-in-law who taught me how to make her delicious gefilte fish, mixing the concoction by hand and laughing as she remembered how when she had learned the recipe, she had sworn never to mix it like that, and my seven-year-old who came into the kitchen on a whim and decided to learn how to make it too, creating such a precious memory. Dayeinu.
My long-suffering husband who was there to unpack all the Pesach stuff, help me set up and strike down each night that we hosted, do the Seders, pour me wine when I looked stressed and vodka when I looked very stressed and then help me get it all packed away again afterwards. Seriously, Dayeinu.
My mom, who took the kids away to feed them when I switched my kitchen a full five days before the start of the chag. Engaging them in activities, bathing them and entertaining them. Those moments of peace are how I managed to get it all done on time. Dayeinu.
My grandfather and step-grandmother who came to dinner during Chol HaMoed on the night of my youngest daughter’s birthday. I smiled at how lucky we were that my children’s great-grandparents could be there to celebrate a 6th birthday dinner, with a Bobba, a Zeide, a Yaya and parents in attendance. Dayeinu.
And then my friends with whom I laughed harder than I have ever laughed before, while being conducted in a dramatised version of Chad Gadya. I am so grateful that I managed to surround myself with the kinds of people who also found the whole thing hysterically funny. (Our sense of humour may be questionable, but at least we can say we are in good company). Dayeinu, Dayeinu.
And so moving into the counting of the Omer, and firmly into the second quarter of 2018, I want to take the simple idea of gratitude and ‘it would have been enough’ with me, no matter what happens. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but we can choose to be grateful for it.
Author April Halprin Wayland wrote a book titled Bringing the Power of ‘Dayenu’ into Children’s Lives. One of her hopes for the book was that it would help children to make gratitude an everyday habit “Our society has so much, yet we never have enough. We live in a perpetual state of unease,” Wayland said.
I think this is a powerful message for adults as well as for children. When we actively practice gratitude we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators.
And so, here we are. It’s May. I’m enough. You are enough.
Let’s make it a daily habit to say, Dayeinu.