By Kayla Kuchleffel
I can’t believe Purim is just around the corner. It seems like only yesterday that my husband took down the Succah. Oh, wait a second! It was yesterday!
I head down to the basement to see what’s left over from last Purim. After stepping over Lego pieces, dolls, puzzles and other toys, (that’s it! Next year they all get underwear for Chanukah) I finally reach the kemeral (that’s a little room in the basement where special junk is stored).
As I sort through some of the hamantashen and marzipan, I can’t help but wonder how things have changed over the years.
Gone are the days when you just sent someone a fruit, or hamantash and wine on a plain paper plate, covered with a napkin. Now your shalach manos has to have a theme!
I’ve gotten a breakfast theme: A mug filled with a small jar of coffee, a packet of sugar and some danishes; an Italian theme: A box of spaghetti, sauce, wine and cheese. I’ve gotten a picnic theme: Salami, rolls, mustard, ketchup, potato salad and soda in a basket; and a medical theme which included aspirins, band aids, iodine and Q-tips.
People don’t know what to do anymore. They send fish platters, meat platters and cheese platters. I’ve gotten a gumball machine filled with jelly beans, and a real percolator filled with ground coffee. One woman even had the chutzpah to send me a box of All laundry detergent, and attached was a bag of her dirty laundry.
Some women even pay to take a course to learn how to make something really special. I once received a plant made of fruit leather and dried fruit. (No matter how much I water it, it doesn’t grow). If you really rate, you may receive a basket from The Orchard or better yet, a sterling silver dish filled with all kinds of goodies.
People now send their shalach manos in beautiful boxes, colorful shopping bags, magnificent baskets and on stunning “designer” paper plates. And this year’s new rage - a musical shalach manos that plays LaYehudim when you open it up.
And it’s no longer acceptable to just write Simchas Purim on a piece of paper and tape it on to the package. Now there are a variety of cards to choose from. For those of you who are really talented - you write your own poem, like this one I received last year: “Roses are red. Violets are blue. You didn’t send me. I’m not sending you!”
Gone are the days when you sent shalach manos to a few neighbors on the block and a few relatives. Now you send shalach manos to every friend, acquaintance, relative, co-worker, neighbor, lantzman, doctor, rabbi, storekeeper and accountant. My friend even gave one to her meter reader. “Er hut eer ungekicked!”
The women stay at home to receive the shalach manos, while the men and kids ride around all day from one end of Brooklyn to the other, making deliveries. And we live in Monsey!
And do you know what a delivery costs these days? Forget a quarter or fifty cents. We’re talking big bucks! Two dollars and up! My kids earn more money an hour than I do.
Speaking of my kids, I’m puzzled. All year they complain how they hate their teachers, how unfair they are. But comes Purim - they must bring them shalach manos. That means another few extra stops with the car. That’s easier said than done. Traffic is backed up for miles, and every street I need, is closed altogether to make way for the parade! It becomes one big nightmare.
And let’s not forget Megillah reading. Gone are the days when you stamped your feet and merely turned the grager when Haman’s name was read. Now, fire crackers go off, tape recorded laugh tracks play, sirens blare, horns toot, guns are fired, crazy string is shpritzed, snappers are thrown, stink bombs go off - and all this is done by the fathers!
Gone are the days when, if you wanted to dress up as a bride, you put your mother’s lace half slip on your head. Now you have thirty-three styles of gowns to choose from and thirteen different head pieces, all more lavish than the one I wore to my wedding.
Today, kids and adults can buy or rent almost any costume they desire, from a rebbe to King Kong. So what if the bill comes to $300 - make the check out to “cash” - your husband will never know the difference.
Let’s face it. Even though Purim is a hectic time, it’s still a lot of fun. The kids have a blast (not to mention some adults). Rabbeim graciously open up their homes to their talmidim and the talmidim ungraciously throw up all over the carpeting. Families get together for a delicious seudah of which hardly anything is eaten because everyone noshed all day. And tzedakah is given with an open hand.
For the next four weeks we’ll all be busy eating three hundred peanut chews, five hundred winkies, one thousand cases worth of Kedem grape juice, pineapples, challah (of which some can be used as paper weights or bookmarks), tons and tons of gooey cake vos hut mine Bubba’s taam, and various kinds of flavored hamantashen.
But when all is said and done, you know who really enjoys Purim the most? Paskesz, Lieber’s and Blooms!