Pinterest has killed Purim. Or, at the very least, it has killed the Purim of my youth. Today, Purim has become a holiday of coordinating family costumes and themed Mishloach Manot. The Seuda requires a color scheme, funky centerpieces, and labeled place cards using templates found on Etsy. And don’t get me started on the price tag.
For weeks, my Facebook feed has been cluttered with costume requests, food item suggestions to work within a certain theme, and links to Pinterest and the various kosher and Jewish blogs where one can find everything from how to make rainbow hamantaschen to how to make dinosaur feet out of tissue boxes.
And I’m just as guilty as everyone else for buying into this new Purim. For spending weeks trying to come up with a themed mishloach manot, and a coordinating family costume that worked within our mishloach manot theme.
But it makes me yearn for the Purim of my past.
My parents never dressed up for Purim. Weeks before the holiday, we took a trip down to the Lower East Side to visit my Zaydie at his paper goods store where my Dad would stock up on brown handled paper bags. We each got to pick 5 friends to give Mishloach Manot to, since there was no way my Dad was going to drive all over Queens delivering Mishloach Manot to my entire class. We were handed crayons and told we could decorate the bags and so, the Sunday before Purim, we sat at the dining room table and colored away. As for Mishloach Manot itself, we gave the same thing every single year. My Mom baked chocolate cakes in mini loaf tins weeks in advance, filling up the freezer in the basement with stacked baked goods. While my Dad’s job was to pick up the mini bottles of Kedem grape juice and the giant box of pineapples.
Yup, you read that right. An entire pineapple.
In America, it’s probably not such a big deal but pineapple in Israel is extremely expensive. It would cost me a small fortune to actually replicate this Mishloach Manot here. And besides, my Dad knew someone in the pineapple business, so he got a nice discount.
That was it. No big exciting theme. No rainbow colored hamantaschen. Truth be told, I’ve never actually even made hamantaschen. My Mom didn’t make them, she baked chocolate cakes instead.
As for the costume, we’re talking about the days before Amazon and the Internet. When the only children’s toy store in our Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood was called Gaffney’s and they carried three types of costumes: Queen Esther, Mordechai and King Achashverosh. The Queen Esther was a dress and an actual mask. Oh, and you could also buy a couple of animal masks and I think a ninja, but that was it. No Barbie or Spiderman. No Disney or Marvel. Nothing. If you wanted a creative costume, you had to make it yourself.
Which is how I ended up riding down Main Street in the local Purim parade (what, your town didn’t have a Purim parade? Ours was awesome!), dressed as a “hobo”. Complete with black handlebar mustache drawn onto my face using an actual magic marker, a blue pea coat, scratchy wool blue hat and my Mom tied one of her shmatas to a stick she plucked from the tree in our front garden. It would be a happy memory if I hadn’t won a writing contest about my beautiful Purim costume, which I had described as the most glorious, elegant, colorful, Strawberry Shortcake Princess at the ball gown. The judge for the contest gave my outfit the stink eye as I hauled myself onto the back of the horse drawn carriage and asked what happened to my beautiful Strawberry Shortcake Princess gown. I’m pretty sure I told her what my Mom told me:
I blame the hobo instead of strawberry shortcake ball gown incident on the reason why I bought costumes for my kids three weeks ago. How I made sure to get to the Red Pirate at the Hadar Mall and buy the Elsa from Frozen costume for my eldest before it sold out. Actually, because of my Hebrew language skills, I mixed up the words for “costume” and “maxi pad” and ended up asking the shopkeeper for Minnie Mouse’s maxi pad in a size 3T.
Do you see the lengths I will go to for my children and Purim?
And my husband is already despising the joyous holiday. It’s partly because I’m making him crazy to find freezer space so I can bake the cupcakes in advance, and mostly because I told him he has to go as Batman again this year. I warned him 6 years ago after we got married that I would only spend more than $100 on a Batman costume if he promised to be Batman every year. And, for the past 6 years, he has dutifully donned the costume and hasn’t complained once. All of a sudden, this year, he wants to switch things up and go as Captain Picard from Star Trek. Well, he should have thought about that before I bought the Plus Sized Batgirl costume two months ago.
Are you getting the clear picture here of how crazy Purim is making me?
And you know I’m already thinking about the family Instagram photo! I mean, why else would I have spent a nice chunk of change on the baby’s Spiderman costume? These are childhood memories that will last a lifetime!
Instead, I decided it’s time to get off of Pinterest. I can calm down about my mustache themed mishloach manot complete with finger mustache tattoos and how I don’t really have a rhyme or reason for the mini liquor bottle. That I won’t be able to send my daughter with a costume on Native American day at gan (seriously? I’ve got Belle, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, I do not have Pocahontas. Is it so much to ask for her gannenet to work with me??). And that our gluten free hamataschen won’t be rainbow colored.
Maybe instead of Etsy designed labels, I’ll just hand out the mustache handled white boxes, give my kids some crayons, put on festive music, and let them color to their hearts content.
Now that could make for some really nice family/holiday memories.
Has Purim gotten a little out of hand for you and your family? Do you find yourself battling with the perfectionist in you over the tiniest detail on your Mishloach Manot? Do you think Pinterest killed Purim? Let me know in the comment section?