Many of us grow up with family traditions. Often in those traditions there are family heirlooms. As we grow up and leave home to start our individual lives as adults we start reminiscing over holidays past. We think of the smells, sights, sounds and even the heirlooms and it evolves into a nostalgia. If there are family heirlooms you may even secretly hope that one day they may be passed on to you, but what about all those years till then?
Over the last several months I have been giving this more and more thought. I have been thinking about “What does _________ mean to me?”, “Why do I want to celebrate it?”, “What are the things that make it feel like that holiday?” This lead my husband and I into many conversations about holidays and that we both love so many different cultures holidays, but what do they mean? What’s the history? What’s the story? As we talked about all this some things become clear. One, many mainstream holidays have become so deluded that they are totally missing the point. Another thing was often some of the best aspects of the holiday are over looked or the meaning is totally lost and finally that to make it “feel” like a particular holiday it would require carting things whether it be food, decor, or maybe something else.
So as Passover rolled around I was just as focused on how it “felt” as much as how it tasted. To start I had to think about “What is the focus” “What are the things that make a Passover table?” Obviously it all starts with a Seder plate. This single piece inspired my entire color pallet. Along with that was growing up with the stories of the old testament, about the Jews in slavery, and of an old world feel to the whole night. This lead me to my tablescape bringing in old-world feel with things like linen, cotton, wood and candle light. All in all everything came together beautifully… but something was missing.
…a Matzo cloth! (Some will also all it the Afikomen bag.)
I have to admit in the past I haven’t thought much about matzo. It was always this bland cracker that we would have tons leftover. Through the years we tried making it more palatable with chocolate, butter, or jam (not all at the same time) but it just makes it. What I discovered was that maybe what should have been changed was the matzo itself. This year my husband and I made our own matzo. One of the great things with making your own is you can make it any size. This allowed me to customize the actual matzo to the plate that I wanted to use. This then lead me to thinking about my mom’s matzo cloth that she embroidered years ago and how I am always in awe of it. I inwardly mused to myself thinking how great our family heirloom would be to have for my table.
Shortly after, in a conversation with my mom she happened to mention thinking she might still had the pattern for her matzo cloth. This got me even more excited. Sure enough, she did! I took the images she emailed me (they looked like 40 year old photocopies) and uploaded them into Photoshop. Then I was able to clean-up, straighten, and resize the pattern to fit what would want for a matzo cloth. After creating a clean black and white image I as well as work out a unique color pallet to compliment my tablescape.
Next, I traced all the lines of the pattern with PATHS, setting STROKE OPTIONS to create a series of small dots. This will provide a guide to create consistent stitch sizes. My plan is to then print that pattern onto a WATER SOLUBLE stabilizer sheet that can then be applied to the fabric.
By creating my own matzo cloth I am not only able to add my own story to my Passover table but I am so carrying on a piece of the tradition I was raised with. My matzo cloth with forever be linked to the one I grew up with and in turn I am adding to family heirloom. Rather than going years hoping I too may one day have the matzo cloth as a part of my Passover table I can instead pay tribute to my heritage, my upbringing, and put my own personal touch to the “next generation” of this story.