I don’t subscribe to the insanity that Purim has become these days, with themes for mishloach manot etc. I am not a scrooge, I just don’t see the need for bankrupting oneself over one holiday. (Pesach, oy, don’t get me started on Pesach). People seem to go overboard spending a crazy amount of money on these food baskets for everybody that they know. I have had hot croissants and different jams delivered to my door at 7 am, a coffee assortment with fresh home baked danishes, an arrangement that looked like a sewing kit but was marzipan and cookies….seems like so much work that just doesn’t get appreciated.
The mitzvah of mishloach manot is to send two items of food to ONE person. Nowhere does it say that you HAVE to give to EVERYONE you know. Or that the basket needs to be ornate and that each one has to cost 25 bucks or more. I understand there is such a thing as Hiddur Mitzvah – but I think it gets totally out of hand. At the end of the holiday you always end up with a ton of junk food that you are never going to eat – it’s a waste.
My friends all know by now that I give a simple mishloach manot, to one person, usually the Rabbi, and if we go out for the seudah, then to them too. Otherwise where do you draw the line? I have friends who make up about 50 baskets!! BUT the kids are a different story. The way I see it much of Judaism can very easily be geared to getting the kids to learn lessons. In our house, the kids get to choose 3 or 4 friends that they want to give to, we make simple packages, decorate them nicely, but we don’t go crazy. Then we drive around the neighbourhood delivering the kids packages to their friends, and their rebbeim, and we soak up the atmosphere that is Purim in Montreal. The kids get to show off their costumes to their friends, and it’s a great carnival atmosphere.
It’s about spending time with family not spending more money than your neighbour. It’s a celebration. We overcame the evil Haman – it’s party time. Let’s celebrate being a nation that has survived countless attempts to finish us – do we have to spend a truckload of money to do so? Absolutely not.
Costumes don’t have to be pricey either – buy Halloween costumes that have gone on sale the day after Halloween, make them yourself, or borrow. I dress up every year, but generally something simple – funky wig, or hula skirt or something. The boys are a lot more inventive. Last year I gave Prince HockeyFan a real Mohawk for Purim, he was a punk – I was the coolest mom in town! (we neatened up his hair before Shabbat, don’t worry). If you just provide it all for the kids, where is their imagination? Let them come up with something on their own.
Anyhow, that’s my two cents about Purim. This year I get to share Purim with all of my men – its going to be awesome!!
Have a happy Purim – please do not drink and drive.