Passover: A Mom’s Timeline


T minus one month:
Walk through the grocery stores. Marvel at the passover displays. Liken them to the Christmas decorations that go up the day after Halloween.

T minus two weeks:
Walk through same grocery stores. Consider that it’s probably time to develop a shopping list by figuring out how many boxes of matzo and matzo products are still hiding in the pantry from last year, still awaiting their redemption (and probably still just as fresh as the date of manufacture).

T minus one week:
Finally do the grocery shopping. Pick up another five pounds of matzo because it is, inexplicably, less expensive than a single box. Buy all of the stuff you’ll need to put a passover seder together.

T minus five days:
Watch your husband as he scampers around assembling the ingredients he’ll need to put the dinner portion of the seder together. Have fun texting him every four minutes as you randomly discover all those ingredients you forgot to get the first time you went shopping. Pro tip: try and get him just as he’s making his way to the cash register. Multiple times.

T minus three days:
Make the chicken soup. Pretend there’s enough room in the refrigerator to hold the stock pot once you’re done. It may involve moving the brisket your husband has made in advance, but don’t tell him that.

T minus one day:
Put together a list of all the things you are going to do to stay organized so that this year things go off without a hitch. Laugh at yourself because things never go off without a hitch. Bake the desserts because that’s your stress response to everything anyway.

T minus 12 hours:
Put together the matzo ball dough. Congratulate yourself for always having light and fluffy matzo balls. Remember, as soon as you do, that pride is the kiss of death. Boil the matzo balls for the requisite 40 minutes. Boil them for another 90 minutes, just to be on the safe side. Test them. Realize it will take another hour for them to actually be done.

T minus 10 hours:
Start to set the table with the tablecloth, candles and seder plates. Marvel at how together you really are.

T minus 9 hours:
Prepare the hard-boiled eggs. Make sure you forget to start the timer so it’s anybody’s guess how done they really are. Everyone likes a surprise!

T minus 2 hours:
Gasp because you have now let life completely interfere with preparing for the seder. Begin tossing together charoset and all the other random things that need to go on the table.

T minus 30 minutes:
Finish setting the table because SOMEONE needs to. Remember that there is not yet any mention of a vegetable for dinner. Come up with something from the fridge and throw it on the rack in the oven under the kugel. Promise yourself that everything will be all right.

T minus 15 minutes:
Remember that project you swore you’d complete last year? The one where you decided you were going to create your own cool haggadah for next year’s seder? Let it cross your mind as you fumble through your bookshelves for something to use this year. Forgo the kiddie books in favor of the passover card game you used last year.

T minus 10 minutes:
Separate the passover cards by “actual seder stuff” and “extra conversation stuff.” Deal out the actual seder cards to each place at the table. Save the extra conversation cards to use as punishment cards. Any time someone says something rude or cusses, they will need to pick up a conversation card and share it. Do not stop to think of the repercussions of this choice.

Spend the first 20 minutes alternately going through the first four parts of the seder and fiddling with the Zoom features on your computer so that a grandparent can be seen or heard along with your family.

5 minutes in:
Secretly congratulate yourself for having put out olives and veggies to keep everyone happy while you perform the service. Also congratulate yourself for spreading the wealth and making everyone else help lead the service.

15 minutes in:
Feel your anxiety ratchet up as you watch the punishment card pile rapidly depleting. Perhaps this was not the best life choice.

45 minutes in:
Stagger through to the blessings over the food. Consider how quiet things get as soon as people actually get to eat. Say a prayer of gratitude that the punishment cards, while running dangerously low, have not yet run out.

1 hour 15 minutes in:
Meal is over. All bets are off. No one wants to look for the afikomen. Nobody wants to clear the table. Nobody wants to finish the service. Forget the passover cards. It is now time to play your mom card.

90 minutes in:
Punishment cards are long gone. Stumble through the last parts of the service in what can only be deemed as a land speed record. Wrap it up and Let Your People Go, for the love of all that’s right and good.

1 hour 40 minutes in:
Sneak all of the lime fruit slices that your family forgot to eat tonight. No one’s watching.

T minus one Hebrew calendar year:
Marvel, upon seeing your now-empty kitchen, what a fun time you had. Resolve to create an even more fun haggadah for next year.

Published by Lainie Levin

Mom of two, full-time teacher, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and holder of a very full plate

4 thoughts on “Passover: A Mom’s Timeline

    1. Will do! Then…

      Breathe a sigh of relief as you receive validation you’ve put something good out into the world. =))

  1. I treasure this post on so many counts … first, the beautiful observance and its significance. The amount of preparation …my oldest son was a history major and religion minor, is now in seminary working on his master’s, and eventually plans to obtain his doctorate: all of his life he’s loved this celebration. I’ve helped him with the Seder (boiled the eggs, and, no, I didn’t time this either! This also made me search for a way to peel boiled eggs so they come out smooth and pretty. You would think, as a lifelong native of the South, with our mandatory staple of deviled eggs, that I would have learned how to do that long before). I love how you structured this. It is lean, to the point, told with self-deprecating truth balanced with your characteristic wit and honor of the Feast itself. I could feel the pressure increasing from the marveling at the displays (and the likening to Christmas decorations the day after Halloween – heaven help us all) to the punishment cards … so wonderfully, wonderfully told, all the way through. I must share with my firstborn. 🙂

    1. Thank you! In many ways, this felt a lot like some of the other posts I used to do on my other, personal blog – the ones that documented the things I observed and thought as a mama. It was good to slip into that version of my writer self.

      As for the celebration, Passover has LONG been one of my favorites, and I’ve always loved the traditions we’ve established – both those in my home growing up, and those we’ve begun as our own family.

      And feel free to share away. =))

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