Usually I start thinking about Purim at least a month or two in advance, keeping an eye out for sales or interesting costume/mishloach makings. It’s a fun time of discussing different ideas with the kids, sewing costumes, searching through the packaging supplies we’ve accumulated throughout the years to find something pretty, and making lists of all the neighbors and friends that we’ll be giving mishloach manos to. This year…I’ve been not in the mood at all. Every time my daughter asks me what we’re doing for mishloach manos, I tell her I’m not able to think about it. A few days ago, she said to me, “I know you don’t want to think about this, but Purim is getting closer and we have to start thinking about it soon!” Yes, I knew that but I still didn’t want to deal with it.
Purim is a very fun holiday, but it takes a lot of preparation and forethought. Last year Purim was extremely blah, a letdown for us all, and I just didn’t feel like thinking about it again. I expected that even in a secular city in Israel I’d feel Purim in the air, but it wasn’t the case at all. What came closest to feeling the Purim spirit was a couple of days before Purim, seeing kids in costume coming home from school. But on Purim itself, it was business as usual. (Yirmiyahu’s physical therapist wanted to schedule a session on Sunday as usual. When I said it was Purim and wasn’t able to come, she looked very puzzled.) My kids felt awkward being the only ones in costume, and most of my neighbors didn’t know what to do with the mishloach manos (some brought it back to me) – I give cake to my neighbors for Rosh Hashana and doughnuts for Chanukah, and it surprised me that they didn’t realize this was a holiday related gesture.
As far as the Purim seuda last year, we couldn’t find people to invite. All the Anglo olim families attended a communal seudah, the young non-olim families travel out of Karmiel to their families or get together with others in their stage of life – so our meal was attended by a single Israeli man. It was a nice meal, but it didn’t feel like Purim, not one tiny bit.
So maybe you can understand why I haven’t been feeling like putting forth much effort to have this kind of experience again. My mother generously offered to pay for us to attend the communal seuda, which is quite expensive for a family our size. Aside from cost issues, I usually am hesitant about these kind of events (there’s a tendency for there to be many unsupervised children running around together, and it’s not fun for me to be supervising and telling my kids they can’t do what everyone else is doing).
But this year we appreciatively accepted my mother’s offer because we want our kids to have some feeling of Purim. It’s too hard to find guests and when the general atmosphere during the course of the day isn’t festive, there are more expectations for the meal to be exciting which makes the thought of a seuda feel like a pressure. It looks like there will be a very nice group of families attending the communal meal so now I’m looking forward to it more than dreading it.
The kids in school are having Purim activities this week, and now that I got costumes for them a couple of days ago, I’m able to be happy for them instead of feeling pressured to get everyone ready. I was fortunate to find what I needed at a friend’s unofficial costume gemach, which I’m incredibly grateful for. That’s another weight off of my mind.
As far as mishloach manos, I think it’s going to be very, very minimal. I’m not willing to do more than make something very basic, and I don’t really care if it’s original or beautiful. I know I don’t sound overflowing with holiday good spirits, but I’m getting myself slowly into gear and it looks like it will be a nice Purim for everyone in spite of my slow start!