Passover Prep Anxiety


    After three friends independently post comments about Passover on Facebook — and it's not even Purim yet — a reader wonders if she's behind the times because she hasn't started cleaning yet.  Why the rush to move on to the next holiday

    Dear Miriam,

    Last I checked it wasn't even Purim yet. Even so, last night, not one, not two, but three of my Facebook friends independently posted comments about Passover. What's the deal? Am I behind the times because I haven't started cleaning yet? As much as I'm looking forward to spring, I'm not quite in that head space yet. Why the rush to move on to the next holiday?

    Passover Prep Anxiety

    Dear Anxiety,

    People love talking about Passover! Rather, people love complaining about Passover. People also love complaining in general, so extending the period of time where there's a vaguely communally-accepted reason for public complaining makes sense. Too cynical? This also assumes your friends were posting complaints. Maybe they were saying, "I can't wait! Only six weeks until the first seder!" or, "Passover's coming! That must mean spring is on the way!"

    If your friends are planning trips to far away relatives for the holiday, it's actually not too early to make plane reservations, so it could be on their minds for that reason. If you (or anyone else) is thinking about hosting a seder, it also makes sense to start thinking about plans now in order to extend invitations to friends and family before they make other arrangements.

    Even though stores are starting to put matzah on the shelves (another reason the holiday may be on your friends' minds), you are under no obligation to start preparing before you're ready. For me, Purim is always when I conceptually start getting ready. I view making hamantaschen as the first step toward ridding my house of flour (and that jar of jelly that's been sitting in the fridge since last Passover). In the couple of weeks leading up to the holiday, I start thinking about the preparations in earnest, and begin clearing off the shelves and shopping. The week — or more realistically, the two days — before seder is when I do all my cleaning. You should do whatever preparations whenever and however you want, as long as, come Monday night, April 14, you feel ready for the holiday in the way that feels right to you.

    A word about the Passover complaining pastime, though, since I still suspect that was at the root of your friends' posts: Passover is the season to celebrate our freedom, our coming together as the Jewish people, our redemption from a dark and narrow place. It is not the season to complain about having too much cleaning to do or about having to eat dry cake for a week. It's true that Passover can be labor intensive and inconvenient, but so, too, is the process of liberation, no? Even though we have more than a month to go before celebrating the Exodus from Egypt and all that goes along with it, it's not too soon to start being grateful.

    I realize I may have just put a big moral tweak on something that was intended to be about awkward uses of social media or a plain old, practical getting-ready-for-Pesach question, so I'll try to bring it all together: Try posting a response to your friends that elicits real conversation. Something like, "Yeah, it's six weeks away, but what are you looking forward to most about Passover?" or, "What about Purim? How are you planning to celebrate this weekend?" or even, "I can't wait for that first taste of parsley when, even if it is still frigid outside, I'll know that spring is here."

    Be well,