In first person: Seder is an island of peace for a family separated by war

If I stand on my tiptoes, my eyes can peer over the edge of a table as large and shiny as a lake. Clear, still, beautiful and quiet. But then Mom, Bubbe and aunts are putting things on that table — dishes, silverware, wine, matzahs, little books. It's no longer quiet, as these women laugh and speak English and Yiddish words that spill out like music.

Soon we are seated around this lake of a table — Zayde, Bubbe, Mom, aunts, uncles, cousins, my brother and I. Only my dad is missing. He is in some faraway place called the Army.

Zayde's shiny head is covered with a yarmulke. His voice is kind, soft and deep as he opens his book, looks at the beautiful squiggly lines and chants in a language II don't understand. I listen in rapt attention, but then my cousin pokes me, we start to giggle and Zayde lets us run off and play.

We return to the table from time to time. We eat matzah that sticks to the roof of my mouth and horseradish that brings water to my eyes.

It is 1945. I know nothing about events in the world. All I know is that I'm waiting for my father to come home , and that I am encircled by the love of my family.