By Malkie Gordon Hirsch
There’s an audible groan being heard far and wide among most of the frum population, and especially among fellow procrastinators such as myself.
It’s the common post-yontif term known officially as “the Monday after yontif.”
As in “I’ll take care of all the things I’ve been pushing off for the last few days/weeks/months after yontif.
And though there’s so much planning that goes into the actual making of a yontif, from the shopping, menu planning, guest inviting, shul going, playdate making perspective, it’s almost better than the ominous “after” that’s going to eventually happen.
We procrastinators like pushing the responsibilities out of our minds, and keep repeating to ourselves that we’ll deal with what needs tending to, after the holidays.
And then, just like that, the holidays end.
Even when you’re “all yontif’d out,” you still sort of want to hold onto that “not having to take care of stuff” excuse that yontif brings.
Time stops for no one. I learned that the hard way a couple of years back. Time keeps going, the clock keeps ticking. It’s simply a matter of you wanting to move along with that time and not wasting a second. As it says in Avos: “Im lo achshav, eimatai?”
The really effective procrastinators decide that since yontif is ending on a Wednesday, the things that need to be worked on can wait until after Shabbos, when it’s really officially over.
They’ll be worked on on the first school day back, that Monday.
Hopefully. After sitting on the couch for an hour preparing to do the stuff you need to do.
Two hours, tops.
Maybe half a day.
Let’s start Tuesday.
Unless there’s another good excuse that’ll further push off the stuff that needs to be taken care of.
Like coffee dates or grocery shopping.
Those are way more important than the stuff I want to push off taking care of.
The after is when the new resolutions begin.
When the diets will start, the bar mitzvah planning will begin (that should’ve begun way before yontif season) and when life will resume its usual frenzied pace.
It’s when I’ll have to wake up at the crack of dawn to wake up my boys for a school bus that comes an hour and a half earlier than required and when I’ll have to sit in front of my continuing education course for my broker’s license, waiting for a timed class that must accommodate the slowest readers imaginable.
It’s when I’ll pass by my Peloton and actually think of turning it on to take a class instead of cleaning off the seat that has things other than an actual body inhabiting its space.
Endless carpools, endless schedules, work, and other fun responsibilities you forget about while ensconced in the month long yontif cocoon that starts our new year.
It’s when in the days following yontif, you get hunger pangs at the oddest times because of the constant food consumption that occupied most of our day for the last few weeks.
And no, a rib-eye sandwich is no longer an approved snack option for in between meals.
Even if it means you’re trying to eliminate the leftover pans of food in your fridge, an apple might be an easier option.
Feeling sluggish and need a midday nap?
Yeah, that probably won’t happen again on a Wednesday for a while.
Caffeine might be a more practical option for the next few months.
“The after” is uncomfortable for many because of its unpredictability and newness.
I can make a yontif with one hand tied behind my back, but can I go through a thousand e-mails?
I could but I’d rather be cooking.
I’d rather put my phone away for days and greet people in person than do what’s required when we turn on the computers, phones, and other electronics.
It’s the reason I’m thankful for that seventh day every week. On Shabbos and holidays, I don’t feel like a procrastinator—I’m not looking to or avoiding the future—I’m being. Those days are sacred in that they invite us to be present. The midrash says one who works on erev Shabbos eats on Shabbos, and that this world is like erev Shabbos. Most of the time, there’s this frantic energy, a movement from one task to the next, like so many worker bees making our world go round. Shabbos and yom tov are called “me’ein olam haba” they come to remind us to pause and enjoy the fruit of our lives—it’s not our busy-ness that creates, it’s G-d—and our rest is as important as our activity. Maybe more so. It’s not just a nap, it’s a rejuvenation, a reconnection, a day for the soul. It’s a reprieve from the pressure to produce, the illusion of control. In music the pauses are part of the rhythm, as much as the notes, the white space behind the print allows us to read the words.
Those days have their own lessons and teach us how to abide by rules and how to instill boundaries within ourselves and our children.
Which doesn’t necessarily mean that a month long marathon yontif is a fun regular occurrence. I think a few of those per year suffice and leave us still looking forward to them and then rearing ourselves up to resume life once the holidays end.
Malkie Gordon Hirsch is a native of the Five Towns community, a mom of 5, a writer, a social media influencer, veteran real estate agent, and runs a patisserie in Woodmere.