ROCKVILLE, Md. (JTA) — I’m not ready for Passover.I haven’t even bought matzah.Seriously, I’ve done nothing.I’m now in panic mode.OK, I can do this. I’ve done it for years. All I have to do is box up my kitchen, clean out the refrigerator and pantry, and put out the kosher for Passover stuff. This weekend my daughter is having friends sleep over. I’ll teach them how to make chicken soup and matzah balls. And I’ll find out how far ahead I can bake a sponge cake.See, I can do this.My husband suggested I just put out paper plates this year and that we pick up a rotisserie chicken for the seder. I just can’t, not once I’ve experienced Passover with a Passover kitchen.Here’s how it all happened.Growing up I remember my parents packing up the kitchen and putting out the Passover stuff. Weird things emerged from these boxes — a meat grinder to make chopped liver, an ancient Mixmaster, stuff from my grandparents.And then there were the polka dot plastic cups. I don’t know why my sister and I loved these cups so much, but they were our favorites. Maybe because we only got to use them once a year? Maybe because plastic was a bigger deal then? Who knows, but when I think of Passover, I think of my polka dot plastic cup.And I loved the plates and silverware from Woolworth’s, the now defunct five-and-dime store my mom bought our Passover stuff from. So much more exciting than our regular stuff, even though the regular stuff actually was nicer.So when I was single, and when my children were babies, I would put out paper plates and plastic ware to use during Passover. When my daughter was in nursery school, my rabbi gave a workshop about Passover and said, “Each year, do one thing more.” I’ve talked about this before. It’s become my little mantra, my path to increased observance.So I began my baby steps to turning over my kitchen.Now I have full sets of milk and meat kosher for Passover stuff. I box up everything, wipe down the cabinets and wash the counter tops with hot water. The night before, my family hunts for chametz.By turning over my kitchen, I’m turning over my life to Passover.It’s a lot of work, but it forces me to clean out my kitchen once a year. And it really feels different during Passover — in a really good way. With less kitchen supplies for Passover, the kitchen feels lighter and brighter. Every time I reach for a spoon or cup or plate, I remember it’s Passover. Like when I was a child, I get excited to use my plastic Passover stuff.And, of course, I bought the kids polka dot plastic cups.So if I can do it, you can do it!Start small — baby steps, remember?Meredith Jacobs is the author of “The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat” (HarperPaperbacks) and the co-founder and editor of www.modernjewishmom.com.
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