By Becky Brownstein
I’m a humor writer. I like to view regular everyday life situations in a humorous way. Then I take that situation and turn it into a story in my head. When I find the time, I take that situation and write it out as best as I can. I guess you can say that’s my way of coping. Hey, everyone has a right to their own coping mechanism. Mine is just a little less serious at times. That is until I turn the page in the calendar and see, staring right back at me, those 8 different colored calendar squares, signifying the impending doom, I mean holiday of Pesach.
I know, I know, I shouldn’t be so negative. It’s a beautiful holiday shared with family and friends and it is so nice once it gets here. But that’s the problem. The problem is the time until it gets here. There is so much anxiety and pressure associated with Pesach, that as soon as I start seeing the first signs of the kosher for Pesach Matzoh Meal on the shelf of my local grocery store, I start to have a mini panic attack. But of course my way of coping with that is to say “Nah, they’re just really early. No one is going to be buying that stuff now.” Which brings me to my next way of coping with life situations – denial.
Denial is great! I get through the day without a worry, until I realize denial is a terrible, horrible thing and stay up really late folding all the laundry I pretended I didn’t care about all day. Pesach is kind of the same. I can push it off only so long until I buckle down and say, “Okay Pesach, you got me. I feel that we have a strained relationship. On the one hand, we get along so well when you finally get here, and I can celebrate you and be happy with you. On the other hand, the preparation for your arrival causes me a lot of stress and aggravation. I’ll be honest with you and tell you that some people go through extreme anxiety and full blown panic attacks when they realize how soon you will be visiting them. Some people don’t even want you to visit them in their own homes and pack themselves up and go to family or friends. So take it easy, Pesach. I won’t deny you anymore, but you have to take it easy on me. Thanks!” And then I get on started cleaning.
*Small Tangent* I am terrible at math. Like, embarrassing-ly terrible (but I am really good at making up my own words). Surprisingly, it was in my 11th grade math class that I learned one of the best life lessons ever. My teacher said that her mother taught her that when times get tough, to just chip away at it. I remember thinking, “huh, that’s kind of genius”. Now as a mother who is in charge of the overall upkeep of this joint, I still hear that advice and have even taught it to my kids. My motto has become, “start in one area and work your way around.” *Tangent Over*
I have been making Pesach for many years now. Ten, to be kind of exact (can I have my medal now please?). I guess I became kind of a pro at list making, job delegating and when to start cleaning, that I have been able to keep the major panic attacks at bay. No, I am not just tooting my own horn. And no, it’s not because my husband is a psychologist (like how I threw that in there, honey?). I have actually started to view Pesach more in a, chip-away-at-it, kind of way and I am able to stay semi-stress free.
My first symptom of Pesach related stress had always been that overwhelming feeling of how many things I actually had to do. My second most stressful thought was, how am I able to do all those Pesach related jobs and also somehow take care of my children? I mean, they actually expect dinner, clean clothes and a semi sane and loving Mommy (so demanding!). I won’t even get into varicose vein issues, back pain and overall exhaustion. And those years I was pregnant or breast feeding….. (breathe Becky, breeeeathe). I’m sure you get what I’m talking about. So, how do I manage you ask? I make lists. Yeah, Yeah, I know. Everyone makes lists. But seriously folks, THEY WORK!
All that jumbled mess in my head that had to somehow come into fruition made me insane. When I would write it all out on a paper and actually see what it was I had to do, it kind of gave me a sense of being okay and under control. Now, I tape up papers on the walls or write with a dry erase marker on the fridge, of all the things that I have to do and then make checks when they are finished. Checks totally sucked when I was in school. It meant that I made a mistake. Now, checks give me this amazing rush and feeling of accomplishment. I can make a check, breath in through my nose and out through my mouth and move on. IT’S AMAZING FOLKS! AMAZING!
*Small Tangent* My husband and I have an agreement when it comes to before-yom-tov gifts. I go out and do something nice for myself and then I later tell him it was from him. Win Win! *Tangent over*
Another trick I learned through the years, was to set a goal. Yeah, the seder would be a good one, but I needed my kitchen done before the seder or there wouldn’t be a Shulchan Aruch. This year, I started a new trend. I write on the calendar which day I would like to have a mani pedi and work my way backwards. So I get a before Yom Tov gift (since I hardly treat myself, I mean get treated, to a mani pedi, it’s something I look forward to) and I also have a deadline for myself. There are some years where I would miss my fake deadline (just picking any day of the week to get finished wasn’t really too threatening to me, aka Mr. Denial again. Hence the reasoning behind the mani pedi). So I had to crunch and lose my cool a little bit, which is okay. It’s okay to get overwhelmed, it’s just how overwhelmed you get that becomes kind of an issue.
So, no, there aren’t many funny things about getting ready for Pesach. There are hardly any funny things about shopping for Pesach. There aren’t that many things funny about lining an entire kitchen (unless someone unfamiliar with Pesach Minhagim walks in and sees your kitchen spaceship. Because that’s really funny). We all get through it somehow. Some of us even really enjoy it. Make the best of it and don’t forget to chip away at it! You will get there!!
I hope you all have a very happy Pesach that is filled with love and happiness and not full of the opposites of those.
Photo credit: Entelo