An explanation and perhaps a dose of cheap therapy:
We do Purim hardcore in my house.
This is not how I grew up doing Purim nor is it Josh's tradition. I have taken an idea in my head and run it into the ground, creating a gigantic hole of a holiday to suck in all unsuspecting occupants of my household. And it's the only way that feels right--I absolutely love being in the middle of this right now. On Sunday night, when we were getting into bed well after midnight, reeking of chocolate caramel, Josh jokingly barked at me, "it's fucking Purim and we're fucking having fun right now. Won't you all just fucking enjoy this fucking PURIM!"
And we laughed until we cried in that Dan Fogelberg sort of way.
To be fair, I warned him that it was going to be this way. Right after we got married, we were in a fabric store and I commented that I couldn't wait to have children so we could sew Purim costumes. "Sew them?" he asked. He imagined that we'd grab whatever was a little too large at the local Halloween superstore and put it away until the spring. But I had visions of hand-sewn Queen Vashti gowns, embroidered and beaded within an inch of its life. I researched Persian wedding veils, dreaming that I'd recreate a headdress complete with hammered coins and gold threads for my own little Queen Esther's wedding night. All of this work for a costume they would wear one time. I told you, I'm a bleeding psycho when it comes to this holiday.
But here's the thing: I had my first chemical pregnancy the day before Purim and I have been trying to take back the holiday ever since.
Somewhere in that time period, this vision started growing; much like Max and the Wild Things where it started as a few leaves and suddenly his room was a forest. And this vision wasn't about the here and now; it was about creating something for the future. I'm sure many people have these small movies that play in their head, connected to a holiday or a special location that continuously visit. My movie involved all of my children opening up their mishloach manot baskets when they were in their twenties and thirties.
In the first scene, a boy is undoing his tie and he's catching up with his wife about their day (she's sprawled across their bed, fully dressed). His wife says, "oh, and your mum's mishloach manot basket came today."
"My mum?" my son says, disappearing into his closet to hang up the tie. "My mum is a fucking nut-job." But he's smiling while he says this.
In the next scene, my daughter is shuffling towards her apartment, obviously upset about something and she pauses when she sees my box on the floor outside her front door. She starts crying in earnest as she picks up the box and opening it is the first thing she does when she gets through the door. She has a long cry, clutching something from the box to her chest. And then she calls me and tells me about her terrible day. But that box is what she thinks about years down the line after I'm gone--how it came at just the right moment.
In the next scene, another son is opening the box with his children and they're all scrambling to be closest to the candy as it comes out of the box. "You know that they're never going to go to bed if you let them eat candy right now," his partner says.
"Come on," my son replies. "It's Purim."
In the next scene, another daughter is frantically baking, moving one sheet of hamantaschen over to the cooling racks while she places another in the oven. "Why are you driving yourself crazy?" her friend asks, sitting on top of the counter.
"Because...because my mother's box arrived today and I have to get mine out tomorrow if they're going to be there in time."
And she can't explain why she does it, but she does it nonetheless.
In the last scene, my youngest son is eating the candy with his girlfriend and he's falling in love with her because he sees that she has the qualities that he has been looking for all his life. And he's considering marrying her because he's thinking about family and home and all of those threads that still tie us together through these boxes of cookies and candy that come through the mail.
I know these images aren't very realistic by this point. First and foremost, we will probably never get to have that many children. Secondly, all of these scenes are above ground and we all know that at some point, we'll be living like moles a la 12 Monkeys.
But that is why I do what I do right now. Because I want it to be a foundation that other people stand on later. That it becomes a memory they return to when they think about holidays and family and what we do for others. That it's something they always talk fondly about after I'm gone--your Great-Grandma Melissa, she was a bit of a nut-job, but she made a damn fine toffee every year for Purim.
Somehow building something undoes the loss. Because I miss something every year at this time. I really miss something. So I build it bigger and bigger and bigger and draw in more and more people. We started out just giving mishloach manot to family and a few friends we saw in shul during the Purim service. And by this year, it has grown into a list of thirty or so people and we spend days hand-delivering and mailing these packages of candy and cookies and toys. We let the kids each pick a person to give mishloach manot this year too. Next year, maybe our list will contain 35 people and after that, 40. And one day, it will become a year-long project.
This year, we also let the twins design their costumes. The Wolvog is going as an iPhone--his choice--and he had me add silver Apple insignias to each sleeve and to the back. Josh is going as an iPod Classic (get it? He's the classic Apple product; the Wolvog is the new Apple product. Get it?). The ChickieNob dreamed up a pink, floor-length gown with a long train that can be bustled when she gets down--fresh and funky--at the Purim parade.
It's worth it--it's worth not sleeping for a week or two and getting myself completely stressed out and letting the house go to shit and not eating well (aaah, said like a true nut-job). It's worth it when the last package is delivered and the parade is starting and it's all moving in slow motion and your mind is both back there and here now and you're thinking to yourself--I am filling up a pitcher with a hole in it and my stream of love is finally moving faster than the leak. I am filling this broken pitcher. I am beating this fucking pitcher and I am going to win in the end and be able to pour out all of this love on my own terms. Because I can fill faster than the hole can leak by now.
But it wasn't always that way.
So that's why I do what I do at this time each year. And if you have eaten one of my baskets, you've helped provide me with a cup to fill once I got the pitcher full. So thank you.