April 4 18

I saw my doctor today.

(I saw my doctor today and then I put something up on my instagram stories and exactly eleven people saw it before I took it down one point five minutes later because three of the sweetest of the eleven people texted me to make sure I was okay and yes, you guys, I’m okay and now I realize that putting a vague-ish post about trusting your gut and seeing your doctor might make people worry unnecessarily even though I talked about trusting my gut but also that most of the time my gut is all mmmmmmmmdonuts. But anyway, I went to see my doctor because my gut is telling me that the symptoms I’ve been experiencing googling for the past few months are something other than normal fumbling towards forty symptoms. (forty-eight days until forty) and something other than Passover Gut Rot (copyright pending). The fatigue, the constant shivers, the weight gain, the weightgaindepression, the anxiety, the panic attacks. Something doesn’t feel right. “I’m so glad you came to see me today, Ali.” You guys, I’m in love with my doctor. She is the kind of person who listens and hears and promises to become Dr. House without the Dr. House temperament to get to the bottom of what my gut is telling me. So. While it was hard to hear from a medical professional that my job is actually — and not just hyperbolically — killing me,  I am fine and I’m in good hands.)

That was today.

Yesterday, though. Yesterday I was in my Stars Hollow.

Well, not really yesterday. Yesterday, my heiney (and my wrists wearing Sea-Bands THANK THE GOOD LORD because …the Blue Ridge Mountains) spent the day in the shotgun seat of my Jeep (because *someone* is a bit of a road trip control freak) buried under Pesach snacks because my mom is A PROPER JEWISH MOM and packed us enough chocolate and fruit and veggies and cheese and cream cheese and two different kinds of matzah and chips and biscotti and cake for way more than the ten-hour drive home. We have pretty much perfected that long drive by this point. Each of our *agreeable* children spend 3 hours and 20 minutes sitting in the middle seat of our Jeep, complaining for the entire 3 hours and 20 minutes about breathing and touching. And the driver plays a really fun game called “Let me cycle through every single SiriusXM station until I find a song I like that usually ends up being ’80s or Hair Metal.” Which is not my favorite game because I really wanted to listen to Dax Shepherd interviewing Zach Braff because, you guys, they are the same person, but it’s a game I tolerate more than my absolute least favorite road trip game:

When I point out every Target we pass and then he refuses to stop at them. 

But before. My Stars Hollow.

Also known as Lexington, Virginia, where my parents live in a condo — that in the late 1700s was used to make coffins — above a yarn shop on Main Street just up the street from the Stonewall Jackson House and Virginia Military Institute.


There’s not much to exploring this tiny town, but I adore it each time I come and I never tire of it. There are two universities right beside each other — Washington and Lee University (where I force my children to take photos on their gorgeous white-columned campus) and Virginia Military Institute (where we always catch a Keydets baseball game, where we are the only ones not in uniform.) There’s a main street like you’d imagine — a coffee shop that doubles as a cheese shop, a used book store filled with true treasures, a homemade ice cream shop, a movie theater with three screens, not a stadium seat in the house. It’s just this beautiful city in the valleys of the blue ridge mountains full of deep and rich history. I mean, after all, Stonewall Jackson *and* Robert E. Lee lived and are buried here and you can even take the horse-and-buggy tour past both. {And we have. So many times that we could give the tour ourselves and recite all the facts from memory.} The homes have big, sweeping porches and are full of stories and personality (and civil war ghosts). Everyone waves and smiles and wonders how your day is going and actually, truly wants to hear the answer. We’ve been to Natural Bridge and to Monticello and we have gone llama trekking and we’ve fed animals out of our Jeep at the safari park.

This is how we Pesach.

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Small sidebar.

This year, I invited all of my family to come to my house in Toronto for Pesach.

Five days after my mom reluctantly agreed to come to Toronto for Pesach, she called me and said, “Eliana, I just wanted to make sure that you know how much work making Pesach is!” “Yes Mom, I know,” I said.

Seven days after my mom reluctantly agreed to come to Toronto for Pesach, she called me and said, “Eliana, I just wanted to make sure that you know how expensive making Pesach is!” “Yes Mom, I know,” I said.

Eleven days after my mom reluctantly agreed to come to Toronto for Pesach, she called me and said, “Eliana, I just wanted to remind you that you don’t have all the kitchen things you need to make Pesach! You don’t even have a Cuisinart!” “Yes Mom, I know, and yes I do! I have a KFP Cuisinart!” I said.

Fourteen days after my mom reluctantly agreed to come to Toronto for Pesach, she called me and said, “Are you absolutely sure you want us all to come to you?”

“Mom, would you like us to come to you for Pesach?” I asked.

“You want to come to me???? What a fantastic idea! I would love to have your family!” She said, as if she hadn’t spent those two weeks mind-gaming me into changing my mind.

My mom is GOOD. 

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So. It seems. This is the only way we Pesach.

We are the only Orthodox Jews for miles. There’s certainly no place to buy KFP food without the internet. We arrive from Toronto every year with the wine for the seder and the Temptee cream cheese and the Breakstone’s butter. My cousins and their four almost-the-same-ages-as-my-kids kids arrive from New Jersey every year with desserts and Diet Coke. My brother arrives from Chicago every year with the cold cuts and the dried salamis and the rest of the meat. Everything else arrives from Baltimore or from Richmond, and if you know anything about maps you’ll know that neither of these are a hop, skip, or jump away. There’s no synagogue other than the campus Hillel House which, of course, is closed for Spring Break, so the men daven on the porch with the smell of fresh popcorn wafting over from the movie theater next door. We eat our faces off {and then eat our faces off some more} and play endless games of Sequence and Catan and 7 Wonders. We play an ongoing game — this year we had to name every song with the word “UP” in it. I started and finished a book — The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

We sweep a hundred times and still don’t even make a dent in all the matzah crumbs.

There’s no wrong way to Passover. Some families stay home and cook up a storm for a gaggle of guests. Some families rent homes in nice-weathered locations like Arizona or South Carolina and have the holiday catered. Some families spend the holiday in Israel. Some families spend the week at Pesach hotels as part of Pesach programs where there are buffets filled with bread that isn’t actually bread and day trips that include kosher for Passover lunches with the Kardashians. (YES REALLY) If you want to forego the whole foiling and boiling process of getting your kitchen ready for the holiday, awesome! If you want to stay at home and eat nothing but matzah and butter, excellent. (Mmmm…butter). Like I said….there’s no wrong way to Passover. And I mean, sure I look with a tiny twinge of envy (but mostly I’m just plum happy for you, Scouts honor) at all of your beautiful paradise-y Instagram pictures, but our Pesach is pretty great.

In way-too-cold-this-year Virgnia, there’s no beach and no bread that isn’t actually bread and there are certainly no Kardashians, but there IS a Dinosaur Kingdom — where you can watch Dinosaurs fight Confederate soldiers.

Hand to god.

And the truth is that no matter how you Passover you cannot escape the crumbs, so.


  1. It’s true, you can never escape the crumbs. I think everyone will still find matzah crumbs for a while after Pesach.

    Comment by Pamela on April 4, 2018
  2. crumbs everywhere!!!!

    Comment by ali on April 5, 2018
  3. I miss Passover with the Martells!! And matzah pizza!

    Comment by Kristabella on April 5, 2018
  4. Hop in the car! You can be here in no time and we’ll make some for you!! 🙂

    Comment by ali on April 5, 2018
  5. That would requiring me having a car! Ha!

    Comment by Kristabella on April 5, 2018
  6. A) I did not know your full name is Eliana!!!
    B) I hope you’re ok Ali. Thinking of you!

    Comment by Heidi on April 9, 2018

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