M y in-laws live a 15-minute drive from our home — way too far to walk. When it came to Pesach, the distance made the decision. We were legitimately excused from their Seder.

I was thrilled. I didn’t particularly like my in-laws. It wasn’t just that they weren’t interested in religious things — they were different. My family is lively, relaxed, very open, and somewhat disorganized. My husband’s family had dinner every night at 7:10 p.m. and planned everything weeks in advance.

As for their Seder… it consisted of two dozen people who kept asking when the kneidlach would be served and felt that ancient traditions were irrelevant to their modern lives. The second night, they’d go to my husband’s aunt, who hosted a huge Seder for the extended family.

I could think of nothing worse. I was so happy that we could go to my parents’ Seder and sing the songs we sang as kids and argue over the meaning of the Haggadah with no guilt or having to split ourselves in two. My parents’ Seders were heimish, laid-back, and oh-so familiar.

Until this year. My very spiritual and truth-seeking mother-in-law had her own spiritual transformation over the past several years. She began keeping Shabbos most of the time and attending shiurim. Her husband, while not opposed to a religious lifestyle, carried on exactly as before.

When my husband’s aunt died, the big family Seder fell onto my mother-in law. She felt responsible to host all the extended secular family, who would otherwise have nowhere to go. Usually, my in-laws would spend the first Seder with other relatives, and then drive home. But after years of keeping Shabbos except for driving to family, something shifted.

My mother-in-law took on the massive step of becoming fully shomer Shabbos. Unwilling to drive home from the first Seder as she had done in previous years, she was going to spend the first Seder alone.

When I heard that, I couldn’t bear it.

In the past few years my mother-in-law and I have become closer. It began when my eldest son was born. There is nothing my mother-in-law wouldn’t and doesn’t do for our children. Buying them clothing and toys, sleeping over, calling when they’re sick. She invests in them — time, love, care. And my children adore her.

She visits them, takes them out, and whenever we go over, there are new toys matched to their interests and ages. They love sleeping over and she adjusts her busy schedule to help me out. Swimming lessons, music classes, birthday parties — whatever and however she can help.

Watching her grow in Torah is remarkable. She constantly has a sefer next to her bed and is so respectful and sensitive to my children’s very foreign upbringing.

So the thought of her sitting in her dining room, at the long table set for the next night, eating matzah alone, cracked me open. No family, no husband, no children or grandchildren. No seeing her grandchildren proudly sing Mah Nishtanah.

My husband and I decided that we needed to ensure that she’d have Pesach with her family. I did something I never thought I’d do — and offered to host the Seder for the entire extended family so Granny could be with us. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 586)