It’s that time of year again. Spring is finally here, even if it still doesn’t quite seem like it, and Passover has come and gone. I am now in what I have begun to think of as “Phase II” of my Passover and spring cleaning. Phase I, which comes before the holiday, is tedious and tries my patience. Phase II comes after the holiday, and is even more challenging, but infinitely more satisfying.
In Phase I, I do the traditional cleaning of my house for Passover. Though this varies a bit from year to year as we adjust to changes in Jewish thought, our particular interpretations and preferences, and my daughter’s evolving food allergies, the primary goal is to rid our house of chametz, including pretty much all bread and grain-based products. This includes emptying the pantry, as well as cleaning out the fridge and freezer, taking it as an opportunity to also get rid of anything old, unnecessary, or just not good for us. (Yup, I proudly took the last of my kids’ Halloween, Valentine’s and Purim candy and tossed it right in the trash! Yay for me!)
We then go room by room to clean out any crumbs that might be lurking in drawers, corners or couch cushions. We also switch out all our dishes, utensils and cookware, using a special set designated for just the week of Passover. And, that’s all before we can start cooking for the Seder meal.
In all honesty, it is a royal pain in the ass…but also a serious kick in the ass.
Each year, as the holiday approaches, I start to dread the huge task awaiting me. However, I also know myself well enough to admit that, without having this deadline each year, I would put it off endlessly. So unless I want food turning into science experiments in the back of my fridge, or to suddenly find that my cooking ingredients are so far past their expiration date that they belong in a history museum, it’s good that Passover forces me into action.
It’s also serious motivation for a whole lot of other things in my home and my life that need spring cleaning.
And, that leads me to Phase II: The Post-Passover Cleanse…
As pretty much any Jewish parent of young children will attest, this begins by ridding my home of the ant-like trails of matzah crumbs extending from under the kitchen table, into my kids’ toybox, and ground into my bathroom rug. (I so wish I were kidding about that. Honestly, how does that even happen?!) But that is the very least of it.
Once I start down this road each spring, I literally can’t stop. I start looking around my home and all the various facets of my life, taking note of all the things that need cleaning, clearing and dumping. Clearly, this process doesn’t only apply to the bread products in my home, but the other chametz in my life–the things that pile up, weigh me down and keep me from moving forward. Passover is good time to stop and consider what else might need a little spring cleaning in my life.
I have come to think of this period of time as not just religiously important, but actually spiritually and emotionally necessary. With each passing year, it feels a little less like cleaning, and a little more like cleansing. It is a subtle but important difference, and one that goes beyond the addition of a single letter. It is a time to reconsider what is essential, and what is extraneous; to clear away the clutter, and focus on what helps me lead a leaner, healthier, happier life. This is a process, and a time-consuming one at that, but one that I know I’ll be grateful for down the road.
That said, I’ve decided to take a short hiatus from posting on this blog so that I can do a little spring cleaning there as well. I’ve been blogging for about four months now. It has been a steep learning curve, both personally and technically. I’m starting to figure out what has worked well, and what could use a little improvement.
I’ve had some incredible support from family, friends, and even total strangers out in the blogosphere along the way. So, for those of you who have been wonderful, loyal readers, I promise that I am not nearly done with this project. I’ll be back in few weeks, hopefully with some new material, a cleaner website, and a refreshed perspective.
Until then, wishing you all an efficient, meaningful spring cleansing.