Passover Prep Doesn’t Have to be Stressful…

Two days and counting…

Passover is one of those holidays that, regardless of how religious you are (or aren’t), stress is inherently built in. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone through the strictures of strict observance for Passover and still, I feel the stress in my bones.

Which is why I went to yoga yesterday and today. And woke up early on a glorious Saturday to meditate.

Perhaps it’s because of the specifics of the Seder table – the details that go on the Seder plate, the special foods that we make and eat only once a year, the ingredients we are forbidden to include, making us stop to reconsider our recipes.

But I am going out on a limb here to suggest that the stress we feel around this holiday is wholly created by us. It lives inside us, not inside the holiday. We choose to observe however we observe.

We invite the craziness to move in and set up camp and we simply walk around or over or trip on its blankets. We curse its presence and yet we don’t ask it to leave. We accept it without question as if rendered mute in unable to see objectively that we can in fact say no.

I’ve been so laid back about observing this holiday that I pretty much put it out of my mind. Which means that as the week drifted on, I realized how much I had to do – even just to make a pot of matzo ball soup.

And with a full workload, and a desire to make the holiday meaningful, the pressure mounted. And I let it. I let it march right in and point its shaky fingers at me and I bowed my head in shame, accepting the story that I had to feel stress or it wouldn’t be a meaningful holiday.

Hooey.

I want to be done with that and shed it like I’ve shed other stressors over the years that I didn’t have to let in.

For some reason, we are raised to believe that we must follow along the dramatic paths that our families or our communities have carved out for us. But just because there’s a path that looks familiar, it doesn’t mean you have to walk it.

There are other paths. And news flash: before these paths were trod clear so that you wouldn’t get lost in the forest, someone else had to carve them in the first place. Think of yourself as a modern-day forester, identifying trails to keep nature-lovers safe. You create the map. You line the paths with stones.

So what am I going to do? Well, for one, I’m working today to get that workload whittled down to manageable.

I plan to walk in the 70-degree sunshine and soak it in. And tomorrow, when it spikes to 75, I’m going to step outside and make sure I take in my full dose of Vitamin D.

My husband has lovingly offered to make the chicken soup. Fair enough. I’ll accept. No martyrs live in my house.

And I’ll order pizza tomorrow night to make it easy and feed the family. And then on Tuesday, before the kids come home from their father’s house, I’ll finish work earlier than usual and make the several haroset recipes that my daughter wants to try and set the table with seder plates and get ready for a night of meaning.

I won’t worry about what isn’t getting done because that doesn’t solve anything. I’ll be in this moment right now because it’s all I have and I’ll believe that the seder experience will be fine however it unfolds.

Because I know that the memories come from being surrounded by people I love and who love me, and sharing our own perspectives on the traditions of our ancestors. If I don’t have time to really pore through the Haggadahs, I won’t, and I’ll hope that it will be enough to discover together the nuances of the pages.

That has to be enough.

The point of being Jewish- or being Christian or being Hindu or being Indian or American or Swedish – is not to drive ourselves crazy. It’s to add ritual and meaning and beauty to what might otherwise be a very sterile life.

We compartmentalize ourselves and claim certain stories as our own not as a means of imprisoning ourselves but as a way to make meaning out of the mundane. That’s what it’s all about. The rituals illuminate the moments. It’s not a race. It’s a life.

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