Though I’m usually a pick-whatever-is-there person, this year I decided to call ahead to the kosher butcher and put in my order for the seder so Josh could run in and pick it up for me. “Small order,” he commented after he wrote it all down. What was he talking about? I bought meat for 12 people despite the fact that some of us are vegetarians and won’t be eating it. It was certainly more meat that I purchase on an average day.
“I’m only hosting one seder,” I explained. “My cousin is hosting the other one.”
“Oh,” is all he said in response.
Later that week, Josh went to pick up the order, and when he dropped it off at home, he said that when he started to say my name, the butcher said, “Oh, yeah, the small order.” He went back into their refrigerators to get it.
“What is he talking about? It’s a totally normal order for 12 people. And we’re having vegetarian dishes and a bunch of side dishes…”
“Mel, he’s used to big orders from big families.”
It didn’t occur to me until that moment that he was making a comment on our family size. That it wasn’t the amount of meat or the fact that some of us are vegetarians. He was commenting on the fact that in a community where a couple brings 10 people to the seder table before they start adding in their extended family and friends, we have two children. Small family. Small order.
I couldn’t stop thinking about that the entire time I cooked. That tiny comment wiggled under my skin.
How we look to others from the outside. How we know a different story from the inside.
[Aside: I clearly took his comment as a negative remark, but maybe it was the opposite. Maybe he is jealous that we have two kids instead of 10. I guess no one knows how it looks on the inside.]