Passover is coming.
Of course, we all know that already. Even if we haven’t been paying attention to the calendar, the supermarkets have been stocked with macaroons and farfel for months. So long, in fact, I’ve had time to park the holiday in the back of my mind and forget about it.
Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.
On the other hand, the kosher food blogs and Jewish websites I follow wait until right after Purim to start talking about Passover, which seems far more reasonable. Some contact me daily, their emails winking at me from my inbox. Other alerts pop into my Facebook feed.
They offer hacks and reminders, menu ideas, spiritual messages, and words of wisdom to get me into the spirit of one of my favorite Jewish holidays — the heavy-duty preparation notwithstanding. I just have to stop myself from shouting back at the ones that have the ornery habit of counting the days until the holiday begins.
I confess, though, that all of the Passover notifications once fed my insecurity about being ready on time. I was convinced everyone else on the planet was 50 steps ahead of me — their kitchens already kashered and covered in aluminum foil, their freezers stocked with briskets and lemon ices long before I started tossing the chametz from the pantry.
Some people I’d meet in the market would tell me their freezers really were filled with briskets and ices weeks before the holiday began. I would smile and pretend I didn’t hear them.
But I digress.
In recent years, I learned to approach Passover preparations with greater composure and now embrace what I once found off-putting about that deluge of pre-Passover messaging. It takes a village to make a seder. Just as friends and I help one another out with the shopping and swap the secrets to our own holiday successes (and humorous tales about our failures), I also lean on the internet hivemind for support.
When I’m set to start shopping, I turn to kosheronabudget.com. I look to see what mayihavethatrecipe.com, toriavey.com, and joyofkosher.com have sent me as I plan my menu. And when I have a moment, I’ll read one of the spiritual essays I’ve bookmarked to remind myself what the fuss over chametz is all about.
Still, it was a little unsettling when the first batch of this year’s Passover emails waded into my inbox before the last of the hamantaschen had been devoured. While I’ve been doing this for decades and know I’ll be prepared in time for the holiday, I had many other things on my mind and wasn’t quite ready to face the pressure of the words: Only one month until the first seder.
Days later, I was engaged in my usual pre-dawn exchange with one of my sons. He had lingered in bed for too long after I’d woken him. More than once I had to repeat the refrain, “If you don’t hurry, you’ll miss the bus!”
He brushed me off with silent annoyance, then declared with fervor, “Counting the minutes isn’t helping! You’re only making me nervous!”
Oops, I thought, swallowing my words with a proverbial dose of bitter herbs. I realized how I must sound to a guy who has never once missed his bus. I stared down the countdown emails that arrived later that morning and said, “I know exactly how you feel.”
It occurred to me that Passover notifications of any ilk are a lot like parents waking their children for school. They are, without a doubt, appreciated. But like my son, I prefer when they tap me gently on the shoulder and leave the room. Ticking clocks make me anxious, though I realize others might find them useful reminders.
The internet is a marvelous resource for those of us preparing for the holiday. Thankfully, we get to keep what will help us and ignore what won’t, with no one the wiser for our personal choices.
I now delete upon arrival any emails that tell me how many days we have left until the holiday. I pretend not to see Facebook posts about tablescapes and place cards, even if the photo is stunning and the headline promises they are simple to make. The only centerpiece we’re having is a seder plate. I’ll trust everyone to figure out where to sit.
Besides, Passover has been here before. It knows the way to our home, and it always arrives on time.