This Old House (at Pesach Time)
The pictures in this blog post are of my old house in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We lived there for the better part of 20 years, from 1966 to about 1985. This past fall, as I was visiting my folks, my older brother Rick and I drove through the old neighborhood just to take a look at it. After all, so many memories were made in this old house:
What we were not prepared for was a “For Sale-Open House” sign on the front lawn. We saw people going in and out, obviously interested in the property. Rick said, “Let’s go in!” And I said, “No way!” And Rick won, as he has so many times in our 58 year relationship. “Get over it,” he said. “It will be fun!”
And it was. We walked in to see a level of interior decorating a cut or two above how the house looked when we lived there. Of course, with five kids (and an occasional foreign exchange student) running around tearing up the place, there was not a lot of incentive to have exquisite furnishings sitting around!
To the left you see our dining room, the place of all of our Pesach seders and formal dinners. There were dozens and dozens of them, and it is strange and wonderful to remember just how many people we fit around that table, how loud we all were, how wonderful and tempestuous and raucous were all those precious family times. As my assistant in the office, Janet Schwartz always says (quoting her mother), “You’re not making meals, you’re making memories.”
The picture on the right is of our living room/library/television room. Again, it looks a bit more elegant than it did 45 years ago, but the wood paneling and book shelves still remind me of the richness of that room. It was where people would go after dinner for more engaging conversation or just to watch the Vikings on television (yes, Pittsburgh, I grew up a Vikings fan – we are 0 for 4 in Super Bowls, so cut me some slack, okay?).
And I wonder, what memories will my children have of our house? Will they remember it as a house of love? A house of contention and strife? A house of boys, with the debris of daily life on every step going up two flights of stairs to the third floor?
I hope and pray that my children remember Pesach seders, often numbering 30 or more, crowded in our front room, all of our furniture shoved into the garage. I hope they remember the wonderful different personalities they met and engaged with over the years at our dining room table, from Debbie Friedman and Danny Maseng to Bishops and Priests, Ministers and Imams, to students from Chatham University to the oldest and dearest of friends.
This corner nook held my parents’ baby grand piano, which they still own. It was the home of thousands of hours of bad (and occasionally wonderful) piano practice, violin and cello practice, even baritone horn, saxophone and bassoon practice!
But in this picture there is no piano – it is another elegant sitting/dining room. And I wonder, the family that is selling this old house, what memories have they created there? Have they experienced joy, anger, frustration, elation – all of it the raw clay of family dynamics – in this gorgeous setting?
My parents are coming in to town today for the Seder. They have not seen these pictures, but I will show them to my mother and father later today. And I wonder, what memories will they evoke in them?
Pesach is a time for lingering memories, for making memories, for moving past regret for what we have not done to realizing what there is still left for us to do.
Make a memory this Pesach. I hope it is one filled with joy, wonder and love.