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Treasure Hunt

Esther Sender

I start Pesach cleaning right after Chanukah.

I make a little game of it by making a contest with myself of giving away or throwing away at least nine things a day until two weeks before Pesach.

Some of my children ask if they’re next if I run out of items.

What I’ve found is that there are a lot of things I’m afraid to throw out for many reasons.

The: “What if I need it one day” category, which includes old plugs, chargers, and crinkle French fry cutters.

The: “I spent so much money on this” category, which includes the “leather” pocketbook that started peeling, the big, red, hanging light (bought ten years ago and still in the box) for the girls’ room, and the beanbag chair for the boys that takes up half the bedroom. And the pink backpack on wheels. I spent $100 on that thing, and it could be great for a grandchild in another ten years if I store it in the attic. But who knows if my grandchild will need to go so far to school or if she’ll need so many books. Maybe by thenIsraelwill adapt the American way of keeping the heavy textbooks in the classrooms and reusing them year after year instead of having the parents buy new ones and then having to give them away. Or maybe there won’t be school. Or books.

The pink backpack goes to the neighbor.

The: “Why did you let yourself buy that?” category. This category includes things you were talked into buying by small voices and you wanted to make someone happy but it never did because you knew it wasn’t the right thing in the first place. It also includes things you thought you could save money on by buying cheap imitations instead of the quality thing you really wanted. (This is how you end up with a peeling pocketbook.)

Today, I don’t have the courage to take on the beanbag chair, so it’s spared. The peeling pocketbook and the red light go.

These were mistake purchases. Because I spent money on them, do I have to keep them forever, while subconsciously if not consciously berating myself each time I pass those objects, asking myself: How did you let yourself buy that?!

“Returns” is yet another category. Borrowed books all get dropped off on the way to the store.

Next category: “Just because someone gave it to me does this mean I have to keep it forever?”

There aren’t so many of these things, but I believe somewhere up high in the cabinet there’s a doll that cries and doesn’t stop even when you put the pacifier in. The batteries ran out. But we don’t want to start that again.

Seven down, two more to go.

The junk drawer.

There’s always something you can find in the junk drawer in a pinch.

A pen top without the pen.

One more to go.

I’m driven when I think of the Beis HaMikdash, which they say our homes are supposed to be replicas of. I imagine it beautiful, stark, and clean. Each item had its designated purpose. No extras, no fillers, no clutter.

Someone once explained to me that extras in a home — and in life — drain your energies, making you feel sluggish and inert.

Getting rid of things we don’t need makes room for more light.

The other Shabbos a regular guest came over and said, “Wow, the house looks so bright.” He had no way of knowing that over the past six weeks times nine I’d gotten rid of 100s of things. We think we have to acquire things to have treasures. It’s the opposite — we have to give away.

One more to go to make nine for today’s hunt.

The medicine cabinet. Yes! Expired vitamins.

I won the Treasure Hunt.

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