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The Chol Hamoed Guide￼
This article is not an attempt to give you ideas where to go. You already have one of those and so does everyone else.
I don’t know why people think they will open the same guidebook year after year and find something new they never heard of before and no one else did either! You think they make that whole fancy section of the newspaper just for you?? They don’t. Everywhere you want to go is already jam- packed with other Jews looking to get away from the rest of the Jews. You can stay home for the same experience and invite everyone to cram themselves into your house and wait on line for the bathroom. In this guide I will share some advice and tips so you don’t have to learn the hard way. You’re welcome!
- Do not try this at home:
To fully appreciate this tip, you need to hear the whole story:
Once upon a time we thought it would be a great idea to take our three-year-old, eighteen-month-old, and newborn to Six Flags amusement park for Chol Hamoed. Don’t laugh. We have grown up since then… We packed up a good lunch (matzah, eggs, apples), some snacks (matzah, eggs, apples), and lots of nosh (matzah, eggs, and apples) and drove off. If you’re perceptive, you might’ve picked up on these two factors:
- We are very limited in the foods we eat on Pesach.
- Apples need to be peeled and cut up (okay, you couldn’t have known for sure, but we don’t eat peels on Pesach), so we needed to bring along a knife.
We got there around lunch time and looked around for a grassy field to set up our picnic. When we finished eating we packed up our stuff and continued on to the amusement park. When we got there we realized that many, many, many other people had the same bright idea as us that day. We were stuck in a veeeery long line waiting for a security check. Every single bag had to be fully inspected and countless people ahead of us were getting sent back to their cars with terrifying contraband such as baby fingers, macaroons, or even… (gasp) a bar of chocolate! In my head I was judging all the people for not checking their bags themselves and getting rid of all their food before getting into line and causing us massive delays *foreshadow*. We got to the front of the line and the security guy unzipped the diaper bag that was loaded with diapers, wipes, bibs, and other baby paraphernalia, and right there, on the top, was a big black KITCHEN KNIFE!!
I tried telling him that it was a mistake and that he could keep it. Nothing doing. The guard radioed for backup and we were treated to a full interrogation in front of the entire line of people who were stamping their feet impatiently wondering why the terrorist in the shtreimel didn’t just go to jail and leave everyone alone.
… So tip #1 would be: Don’t bring knives into amusement parks, and
#2 Just don’t go to an amusement park with three little people who need a constant supply of food. Take only people who have already been fasting anyway since Rosh Chodesh Nisan.
#3 Or stay away altogether. Everyone else is already there.
#4 The best things in life are free. Another version: Sometimes you can get away with free. Like the time we went on an escalator. We drove to Ikea and went straight for the escalator. Up, then down, then up again and down again. We did spend money on a soda that we got (one for the boys to share, one for the girls to share) and we had a blast! Don’t tell anyone, though; my kids won’t live it down. But in my defense, I can tell them about the time my parents took us on an hour and a half trip to Newark Airport. We got to see planes take off!!! And land!!! And we got to go on a monorail!!! And see business people rushing around actually going places while we just gawked!!! I’m not going to pretend we didn’t think it was the coolest thing! We did. Which reminds me of a really clever woman, a mom of a bunch of kids who was living on a small budget and recognized a real opportunity when corona hit. Her kids had never gone on a plane before because of said budget issues and now tickets cost less than a loaf of bread! She booked the cheapest flight she could find, destination: who cares? The whole family flew to an airport far away. They even had a stopover in a third destination! When they got there they turned around and came right back! Now, why didn’t I think of that?
#5 The kids will come home crying anyway so you might as well save yourself a couple hundred bucks. This I learned the same year we did the escalator. Thinking we were geniuses (okay, let’s be real, that was pretty brilliant), we decided to try to pull another one on the poor Issacs family. We took them to a car wash. Everyone was all pumped for the event, but as soon as we drove through those giant mop-looking things that roll over the car, the shrieking started! Turns out they were terrified of mop-looking things that roll over the car. And the soap suds that cover the window. They were trembling in fear by the time we left, which in retrospect is not vastly different from going to an amusement park, so I suppose we did pretty well.
#6 Learn to live with tantrums. This one is similar to tip #5 but not limited to little kids. Sigh. A lesson I’m trying not to believe is that you don’t outgrow tantruming. Like ever. I remember my oldest sister checking in with my mother when her two-year-old was going through a phase.
Mom: Don’t worry. It’s just a phase.
Sister: How long will it last?
Mom: Oh, about 20 years or so. And then hopefully it will be someone else’s problem. But until then there will be whining. Whining about where you did go, whining about where you did not go, and whining about where you will go tomorrow.
#7-end. I’m still learning on the job. I’ll let you know what I come up with after this year’s trips!