I never actually claimed to be a balabusta. I said it was a title to which I aspired. So I can admit the following:
Until yesterday, all the Passover stuff was STILL OUT. We’ve been stepping over frogs and matzah trays and Miriam cups and place cards every day for weeks. I did put the Passover dishes away on time, but the decorations just got shoved towards the attic door and stayed, dust bunnies eddying between the mounds of plague toys, cardboard pyramids, and Lego mummies.
This is one way to make Jewish Everyday: keep all the holiday crap out year-round and let your kid play with shofars, mini-sukkahs, groggers, plagues, and dreidels all at the same time. But I don’t recommend it. I do recommend keeping all the holiday BOOKS out, all the time, but not the decor. No, better to make the sudden appearance of holiday accoutrements a dramatic and meaningful event.
Would that the disposal of said accoutrements was a bit less dramatic. To sort and pack the entire heap was more than I could bear until yesterday, when I could stand it no longer.
I dragged the pile to a sunny room and sat down with a can of seltzer. And what I ended up with were three large plastic bins (the 56 quart size) carefully crammed full of toys, plagues, haggadot, decor, ritual objects, plus one Manishewitz wine box dedicated to plush frogs. The plastic frogs (the clickers, stretchers, jumpers, suckers, magnets, and glow-in-the-darks) were tucked away with the other plagues.
What I also ended up with was the realization that I am crazy for plagues toys. I started when Teenager was three, and we made a school visit to demonstrate how we celebrate Passover. My husband, the kid, and I dressed in our costumes and did a show and tell with the seder plate. We re-enacted the plagues…turned water into blood, let the kids throw toys, sang Dayeinu. They loved it. And every year since then I’ve added to the stock. When Teenager was in first grade, I actually created a product to sell: Box O’ Plagues, which was a vast improvement on the cheapo bags and other kits on the market. My toys were way better, my instructions more educational, my presentation superior. If I could distribute as well as I could draw and create, I’d have far fewer money woes right this minute. But I know nothing of marketing and distribution: an obstacle I keep slamming into again and again.
After putting all my plagues in place yesterday, I think I’ve finally reached my limit. I have enough rubber skeletons and vinyl grasshoppers. What I need to work on now is getting enough balance back into my life so I can actually invite people to seder to play with those toys. Last month, I had to limit the guest list to immediate family or risk an all-out nervous breakdown. It worked, but I want next time to be different. I have a year to work on this, and it will take a whole year of baby steps towards a cleaner house, a stocked pantry, a dinner schedule, general sanity. I am hoping that on the evening of March 29th, 2010 I will be a real balabusta commanding many crowded cardtables of rowdy, happy guests.
Next year, in Nashville.