Counting how many people are coming to seder. How many on first night? How many on second night? Do we have enough silverware, enough wineglasses?
Counting ingredients. How many eggs do I need for the matzah balls? How many to hardboil? How many for the potato kugel? I wrote in a poem years ago that "no matter how many you buy / there are never quite enough eggs at Pesach," and every year it turns out to be true.
How many napkin rings do I have? (Not enough. Time to order a dozen, quickly.) How many vinyl Pesach placemats do I have, to protect the tablecloth where the three-year-olds will be? (Better buy three, to be on the safe side.)
Counting haggadot. Of those, this year, I have enough already. Spiral-bound, fronted with brilliant orange paper and a clear plastic cover. Some of the pages are lightly stained with wine or horseradish from last year or the year before. The sign of a haggadah well-used, well-loved.
This year, two seder plates: the beautiful ceramic one my mother's sister gave us as a wedding gift, and a plastic one from Target so there's one that the kids can explore without fear. This year, ten felt plague puppets in a glass basket which used to belong to my father's mother and which came to me as a gift from my "other mother" years ago. The first Rachel Barenblat had given it to her, and she passed it on to me.
And in the flurry of all of these preparations, I know that as soon as we reach the second night of Pesach, we begin a new kind of counting. The Counting of the Omer, measuring the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot, between liberation and redemption. I'm so caught-up in seder preparations, both physical and spiritual, that it's hard to believe that seder will launch us into seven weeks of intensive spiritual work, opportunities for all kinds of revelation. It's a bit like being pregnant, focusing energy on labor and delivery, but knowing that after birth there's a whole new journey ahead. New time to measure, new days and weeks to count.
For now, the clock ticks down until Monday evening, until the fifteen steps of the seder which we'll count one by one as landmarks on our journey. Time, now, to make our preparations count.
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