By Phyllis J. Lubin

I walked into the garage to check on our paper-towel supply, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed the chametz bins sitting in the far corner. Upon further inspection, I noticed that we still had some unrecovered chametz from before last Pesach. Was it still any good? I know Emeril Lagasse says not to use spices longer than a few weeks, but do I really care?

It’s already April and the cabinets are still filled with food. This surely does not make sense when Pesach will be here so soon. This is so unlike me. Typically the day after Purim is spent cleaning all the food out of the cabinets, preparing for the holiday of freedom a month in advance. That’s where the chametz bins come into play. These are big plastic containers purchased from Amazing Savings almost two decades ago that are used to store all our leavened foods over the holiday (and usually a month prior).

There are stages involved: First, the foods are taken out of the cabinets; then they are reviewed for possible expiration dates (of course any kosher-for-Pesach items such as tuna cans and unopened matzah-ball soup mixes can get dusted off and placed aside for use during the holiday); and then the items are categorized, as we put unopened chametz items in one bin and open, usable pre-Pesach items in the other bin. This is not a perfect science. Sometimes I have just too much stock to fit in the bins, and then the extra, almost everyday items (open cereals and pasta) get relocated to the kitchen counters.

Usually by the end of the week after Purim, the kids and my husband are complaining that I am putting things away too far in advance. In fact, we will oftentimes purchase new chametz items before Pesach when I seem to have packed things away too well!

After the cupboards are bare, the next step is cleaning out the empty shelves and noticing how incredibly dirty we have been the past year. A couple of days later the painting project begins. I usually look into my stock of extra paint in the garage and decide what is not only still usable, but appropriate for my kitchen décor. (That is basically most anything, since my logic is that it gets covered with food and is not too visible. And then my kids complain sometimes at my choices: pinks and greens have been past favorites, but most of the time I stick to the white and off-white family.)

This year, the cupboards were still full last week, and I hadn’t even reviewed my livable paint choices yet. Yes, my dear readers, the Lubin clan and the Davidson duo are going away for the whole week of Pesach! Not too far away, though; we are retreating to nearby Tarrytown and are hopeful for a wonderfully relaxing week. The fact that the food will be non-gebrochts doesn’t even bother me this year, since not too long ago I rejoined Weight Watchers, and matzah brei would waste way too many points!

I am looking forward to my meals being served to me for a change. I know I will miss the creativity of making potatoes look exciting, but the pleasure of not having to come up with a myriad of meal choices is extremely inviting. The Seders might be more awkward in a room full of over 300 people, but when it’s over, we will get to just go back to our rooms, while others stay up for the hour-long post-Seder cleanup.

I can’t say that I won’t clean. The thing that I love about Pesach is the opportunity to make my house really clean at least once a year. The only thing I know is that the pressure is off. I am not as fearful as I normally would be at this moment. And I am surely looking forward to eating challah to my heart’s content (with my WW points in mind) the Shabbos before Pesach without my heart stopping every time Yussie moves away from the table with a slice.

So this year, I think I will finally be free! Happy cleaning! 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 a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at

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