I realized tonight after 9 p.m. that I needed bread for the kids' lunches tomorrow. Hoping that Sobeys, the nearby supermarket that houses supposedly the largest inventory of Kosher food products in North America, with in-house Kosher bakery, fish department and meat department, as well as frozen foods, fresh foods and regular groceries, would be open still, I called. Yes, till 10 p.m. I was told it would remain open.
So I hopped into the van and took the five minute drive over.
Normally when you walk into the store, you're greeted with the bakery department -- aisles of breads and cakes and buns and cookies...before you even reach the counter to get served! Tonight I walked into the store and was greeted with a wall of Kosher for Passover pop and chips and canned tomatoes and grape juice and, and, and....
I almost hyperventilated.
And I imagined that for a month before Pesach, a Hatzolah unit should be set up inside Sobeys and any other large supermarket with a Kosher section, for women like me who feel the need to faint or hyperventilate when overwhelmed by the Passover shopping mania. Medical personnel would be on hand to immediately help with any emergency situations that might arise.
Because of course, in this case, Pesach means shopping. Shopping means menus. Menus mean cooking. Cooking means guests. Guests mean cleaning. Cleaning means time and effort. Time and effort mean TIME and EFFORT.
The truth is, it -- our anxiety -- all heralds back to Purim. At Purim, that brown shelf paper comes out, and those shelves and aisles that normally hold basic Kosher products are gussied up. First it's party time -- with Purim goods. Then it's work time -- with Pesach needs.
Some of the stores just tease us a bit, giving us a sneak preview of what they really have "in store." And then, the minute that Purim is passe, these stores mean action. And it is clear to see when countless staff, and perhaps extra staff at this time (equivalent to extra salesclerks in department stores during the Xmas holiday season), are busy emptying shelves of the regular Kosher stuff and restocking shelves with the Kosher for Passover products. They are like a small army getting a battlefield ready.
Yes, it is a battlefield of sorts -- bedlam will soon prevail, they are told, and all plans must be in action.
But I manage to slip through the stores unnoticed for a couple of weeks after Purim; I plainly ignore the hints of Passover, and they try not to bother me too much. But eventually we have to make real eye contact...and I'm forced to take the first step.
In Sobeys tonight, one of the displays of Kosher for Passover dish brushes and labeling stickers had the header: ARE YOU READY? Oy, some more Jewish guilt being tossed at me. As if my own conscience doesn't send some my way.
Along with the display of paper goods for sale was yellow caution tape for sale, similar to police-issued tape. It said something like DO NOT CROSS THIS LINE: PASSOVER READY.
There were a few brave types, filling their shopping carts with Passover items. And then there was me, filling my shopping cart with loaves of bread. I mean, I have to stock up still; it will soon be rationed off in the store. As it is, they're trying to play Hide the Bread from the customers, making sure confusion reigns, when we search for it in the regular spot.
I know I soon have to get myself Passover battle-ready too. Right now, I'm still wearing that suit of armor to protect me from potential injuries and scars. But within the next ten days or so, I'll have to whip off that armor, show my true colors and get out there among the other brave souls.
I'll be filling my shopping cart with Passover foods, contending with the long checkout lines....and the long shopping lists, hoping I haven't forgotten anything.
And on that wavelength, why do we always stockpile a season's worth of food for the first two days of Yom Tov alone? Do we think the Pesachdik cows will no longer produce milk or butter or cheese? Do we think that the produce section will disappear from under us? Do we think grape juice and wine vats will dry up? Do we think that we will really see hundreds of people passing through our doors -- perhaps along with the prophet Elijah -- for a seder or for a lunch meal or for tea and dessert over those first two days?
We're still eating our way through our Purim Mishloach Manot surplus. That should keep us busy for another several days, I think. After that, it's TorontoPearl's family meets Pesach head-on....like it or not.
Pesach....here we come!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!