It has just been brought to my attention that Chol HaMoed is a whole week long. This means that after making Pesach, we still need to make Chol HaMoed. Not because I think so. I would be more than happy to lounge around in my pajamas and drink countless cups of coffee while making sure nobody eats anything anywhere, because there is nothing messier than matzah.
Sad to say, however, that pajama lounging will only work for the first few hours, and then the inevitable “What are we doing today?” becomes a chorus. This Chol HaMoed, we can’t fall back on the old favorite, “We need to make Yom Tov,” as the second days of Yom Tov will be a whole week away.
Instead, we can explore different fun things to do as a family, while keeping in mind that making Pesach is not cheap, despite the fact the food is made with poor man’s bread. Before we begin, let’s all agree that nobody is leaving the house before all the Seder stuff is put away and the post-Yom Tov mess is all cleaned up. Because if you don’t clean up the mess before you leave, what incentive will there be to get the little people to help?
Secondly, I want to apologize to those women who need to work during Chol HaMoed. For years, I was one of you, dragging my children to work (and I was lucky to even have that option!), bribing them to be quiet with DVDs and countless treats. It is a challenge to deal with the expectation that every family will have quality time together during Chol HaMoed when for many people that is not reality. I’m sure you will do the best you can to perhaps take off a half-day or come home a little earlier to serve a nice dinner and make some good memories. But if you cannot, I encourage you to make your reality matter-of-fact. Avoid the temptation of comparing yourselves to other families and count your blessings. You have children; you have a job, etc. Hard working mamas, I salute you. It is not easy doing what you do.
To those of us who are lucky enough not to be working outside the home this Chol HaMoed, we have our own set of problems. What to do with all this time?
Here are a few ideas that hopefully everyone can enjoy without breaking the bank.
Start your garden. Take a family trip to the local home improvement store and buy seedlings, pots, dirt, etc. Let everyone pick his or her own and, after you come home and plant, you can have a race to see whose plant grows the fastest.
Home renovation. While you are at the home improvement store, pick up supplies to finish that long-overdue home renovation project. Between the actual doing of the project and the festive feeling of finally completing it, it will be a great day for all.
The park. As I mentioned before, there is nothing messier than Pesach food. That’s why this is such a great opportunity to get into a car or hop on a train with a full picnic basket and check out a park or two in a different neighborhood. Take some bubbles and water guns with you and everyone will be guaranteed a great time.
Check out your metropolitan zoos and botanical gardens. They usually have one weekday free. The trick is to get there early, as soon as they open, so that you can beat the crowds. Spend a few hours walking around, checking out the exhibits, and then come home, where everyone will be glad for the chance to rest up after such an early morning.