By Phyllis J. Lubin

“We should get fish food for Pesach,” Rivka reminded me as we were perusing the aisles at Brach’s this past Friday. Sadly, we no longer have any fish that we need to feed. We do have a hamster, though. What will Pumpkin’s menu be this yom tov? Lea and I need to do some research on how to properly feed her little friend–“food” for thought.

So now without fish, why would we need fish food? In the Lubin household we have avid fans of powdered mashed potatoes that we traditionally purchase for the holiday. It’s an easy side dish (to replace the usual rice or pasta), and Rivka has decided that it looks a lot like fish food, hence we actually do need our version of “fish food.”

“I’m not buying any now. I’m just wandering the aisles.”

“Doesn’t it make sense to buy some stuff that we know we want now?”

“It might make sense, but it’s not happening. I don’t have any place to put anything yet.”

It can’t be almost here. It makes no sense. We had so much time. I haven’t even fully reviewed the various stores’ Passover inventory yet and it’s truly time to purchase. And so the countdown of days left before the holiday has begun!

I am working on lists. I love making lists. Actually whenever I am waiting almost anywhere, I enjoy recording my wants and needs: Waiting in traffic court for my turn to meet with the prosecutor; waiting in a doctor’s office; waiting for my Weight Watchers meeting to begin; waiting for Yussie’s bus in the morning; and even while waiting to get myself out of bed in the morning!

These days I have combination “to-do” and “to-buy” lists. Of course when I am actually in the store purchasing, I usually forget to bring them along! Somehow though, the act of writing these items down on paper prompts my mind to remember them when needed.

It’s similar to when I would rewrite my class notes before an exam. I wouldn’t actually be bringing the notes with me to class, but the act of writing the notes themselves somehow caused the items to record into my memory base.

“Oh look, they have kosher-for-Pesach coconut macaroons at a good price. Could we get some now?”

“Remember, we can look now, but we aren’t buying any. We are just here to peruse the Pesach stock,” I reminded Rivka.

I have to be in a certain frame of mind to do the actual holiday shopping. I need to make sure I compare and contrast the prices for all the necessary items at all the various stores in the neighborhood prior to actually making the purchases. I’m not quite sure how much I actually save in the end, but it makes me feel good, so I am going to continue doing what I have always done.

If people are already buying their Passover fare, that means that they probably have already cleaned for the holiday. As I have explained before, I have been pre-cleaning since Purim, but actual cleaning? That concept is a bit too daunting to me.

During my pre-cleaning expedition two weeks ago, I actually cleaned out one food cabinet and freshened it up with my customary coat of paint. I filled it with the few items that I already have (not bought for this Pesach necessarily, but kosher for Pesach nonetheless: matzah-ball mix; assorted jellies; some cake mixes left over from last season which have not yet expired; last season’s assortment of teas–or are they from the year prior?; and some juice boxes that I bought now since I can no longer find them in the regular chametz aisles and I can use now or later, etc.).

Actual all-over deep-down cleaning is slowly beginning. It really doesn’t pay to decide to make my house Pesahdik that much sooner than erev Pesach since inevitably somehow the chametz returns! But whenever Yussie sees me actually cleaning, he exclaims, “Chametz tonight?” In Yussie-speak that means, are we searching for chametz yet?

And my usual answer is, “Not now, Yuss. We have a few more weeks.”

“What time chametz?” he will ask.

“Not until March 24, Yussie,” I remind him.

“What time on March 24?”

“Maybe 9 p.m.”

“Don’t be late!”

As we all continue our countdown to shopping and cleaning for Pesach, let us all remember that somehow the holiday arrives every year, take a sigh of relief and remember that no matter how stressful this time might be, in the end we are certainly never late! v

Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children: Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea and now a new daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at


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