Been cleaning for Passover, a yearly ritual greeted with equal measures of excitement and dread. It’s such a pain! There are so many details! But if not for Pesach, would I ever take a toothbrush to the cabinet doorhinges or run a toothpick along the grooves of the roller-drawer supports, driving every last bread-y and pasta-ish crumb from my cupboards? I love the gleam of white, the crumb-less corners, the knowledge that even though no one else will notice, the undersides of my counter are as clean as the top. Were the freezer’s grey rubber seal a four-year-old boy, it would squirm and grimace at my wiping fervor.
There are all kinds of discoveries… the missing skewers that played hide and seek beneath a stack of dishtowels; that box of cornstarch I knew I had bought; the last bit of rubbing spices my son brought back from a trip out West. We made some mean burgers with the mixture.
The sweetest find was a gift bag sandwiched in between a dozen others of its kind.
How had I missed it in years past? Inside the bag were fifty-two slips, each numbered with a quality I loved about my husband. It had been a birthday present, one slip for each year of his life.
I sat down on the kitchen floor and began to read: 42. I love your dedication to family. 2. I love how we call each other and get busy signals. 17. I love laughing with you. Some were poignant: 8. I love how you make silly noises with McKenzie. Next month makes a year since we had to put our sweet dog to sleep. Another, now obsolete, has been transformed: 36. I love how you study with Elliot so he can succeed. These days such father-son conversations run to workplace advice. One referred to a virtue trumped by the economy: 35. I love that you are meticulous with our investments and finances. Sitting there amidst the unswept crumbs and bits I read every single one.
We’re coming up on 29 years. Throwing and tossing have their place. Better by far is what we hold onto.
You might add this: Every picture he takes of you, Debra, says: “I love you.” And I told him this just yesterday.
Oh lord, yes. Those things you hang onto! Crumbs? Be gone!! Lovely!
What a great idea for a birthday! And I envy your crumbless home!