Because hello, it’s Purim. And the seudah. We come as guests and listen to bochurim cry
I love Purim. It's unbridled fun and chaos.
Candy for breakfast, chips for lunch, soda for supper. I daven earlier than we ever do in school so as not to miss a minute of this great day. Mishloach manos and more mishloach manos, chocolate and candy, a cake or two. Costumes (I go as myself, mostly, though I do experiment with more makeup than I’m allowed otherwise) music, that spray foam thingy, and the ubiquitous firecrackers.
A couple of drunken people, but nothing I can’t handle. I don’t handle them, actually, my mother does, cleaning up after some of the ones who got carried away, while I go to another room. We eat in yeshivah, and I grow up on stories about how beautiful drunk bochurim are—I watch them cry on my father’s shoulder, wishing they would learn more, daven more, become better people.
There are four mitzvos on Purim, and I’ve got them bagged: Megillah is an easy one. Matanos l’evyonim means giving a couple of dollars to my father to add to whatever he’s giving. I love delivering mishloach manos for my mother and drive off with the music blasting, going just a bit too fast for our suburban streets, because hello, it’s Purim. And the seudah. We come as guests and listen to bochurim cry.
I still love Purim. It’s unbridled fun and chaos. I don’t mind the day’s chaos— I thrive on making order out of it, though I admit that my yetzer hara works overtime when I survey the mess.
I hate hate hate mess. I go to the earliest Megillah because I have no choice. My husband does matanos l’evyonim, and we’re guests at the seudah. What’s there not to love, even when I schlep 100 wired kids and a drunk husband back home at close to midnight?
And then there’s mishloach manos. I still love mishloach manos. I like baking and sharing my goodies. I love getting compliments on the food I create. I enjoy figuring out the best route for delivery, and don’t get fazed by the need to schlep across town, uphill both ways, often in six feet of snow.
I thrive on coordinating this teacher and that rebbi, two towns apart, both available for the same five-minute slot. I even manage to look away as my kids devour Oodles after Crazy Hair after Jolly Ranchers after spray candy after Sour Sticks, then wash it all down with soda.
But… the lead-up. The pressure of coming up with something that packages well. There is not an artistic bone in my body, and putting two minim in a cellophane bag will always be a struggle. Forget my kids who consider anything less than 30 packages each to be deficient and any nosh on sale to be nerdy. And we’re not even discussing themes and matching.
What should I give and how should I give it? My friends wonder why I don’t just pick something and stick with it. But even though you don’t remember what I gave last year, I do, and I recall how embarrassed I was by its presentation.
Most years I spend weeks and months planning, but — say it with me: it doesn’t matter. My ten left fingers cannot tie a bow. They cannot put cupcakes into a cardboard box. They cannot tape a chocolate bar onto a brownie bar, or string an organza bag around the neck of a grape juice bottle.
I cannot do mishloach manos, and on this—the most public of yomim tovim, when we’re interacting with everyone we know and want to impress, I cannot get to first base. And the stress is starting to get to me, and to affect my simchas Yom Tov.
Whenever my kids want to do something I don’t like, I tell them that I don’t care what everyone does, we do what is right for us. Now I wonder: is this my avodah — to stare down the peer pressure that comes in mishloach manos packages?
It’s Purim day, and the game’s over. I’m left with my inevitably embarrassingly nerdy-packaged mishloach manos. I close my eyes and run around town with an added prayer that mine gets lost amid the mess on your dining room table—or better, that your kids rip it open and devour my goodies before you have a chance to see what they came in. Or maybe, that I continue to be able to I prepare and deliver my packaged goods with a smile, that I am able to look past my feelings of inadequacy and see the true spirit of the day,
I hope you like cupcakes.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 784)
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