Last Chanukah, my sister tried to arrange a video conference between herself (in Miami), Mom (in Charlottesville, VA) and me (in NYC, of course). She was throwing a big Chanukah party and wanted her family to be a part of it. A noble cause, but in the end it made me feel kind of sad and isolated rather than a part of anything. It was then that I realized that, while I’m not particularly religious, I am traditional.

It is only after I dismissed these gatherings as unnecessary that I realized how achingly necessary they are. I miss my family and our holiday traditions. I miss getting together for big celebrations.

So this year I promised myself that I’d do some kind of celebration and establish traditions for my new family. It was a promise that Paula agreed to enthusiastically. I just didn’t anticipate quite how enthusiastic she’d be…

So today we come to Passover, the first major Jewish holiday (that this barely religious reformed Jew celebrates) after Chanukah. Paula, who has long since surpassed all qualifications to be called an honorary tribe-member, went all out. She made home made chicken soup with matzoh balls. She made fresh charoset. We had gefilte fish and horseradish. She made a brisket to die for. She even roasted a shank bone. I mean, it was a real shank bone! I’d never actually seen one in my life!

Seriously, my shiksa wife puts on a better seder than some people who go by the name of “Bubbe.”

Mom, who was still in Charlottesville (and told an amusing story about trying to find maztoh there), joined us by video conference. Her fiancĂ©e isn’t Jewish and was out of town for work, leaving her all alone. Since as I just mentioned, I am acutely aware of how hollow a video conference of a traditional celebration is, I wish she was there with us. But just having her present added a link to my family’s seders past. Next year, in Astoria!

The phrase, “The nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me” kind of gets thrown around a bit. But after dinner and after I finished doing the dishes, I looked at Paula lovingly and choked back a tear. This really was the nicest, most thoughtful thing anyone has ever done for me.