Dear G-d, if this was supposed to be a joke, I am not finding it to be funny.
Two weeks ago I heard the rabbi speak in shul on the subject of happiness and Purim. He said how there is no specific prescription for happiness because everyone is happy in their own way. So I thought: this year, part of my happiness is not stressing about Purim. I will have a minimalistic Purim. I am no longer running Purim costume gemach that was a source of mitzvah, but also a source of tremendous personal headache. It was also a source of costumes for my kids, as I managed the donations and was on the lookout year-round for costumes to add. So this year, they had to make their own or tell me early enough what they wanted to do so I could buy it. Only 7 yo told me what she wanted to be: a baby (cue in processing complex emotions of not being a baby any more as she is becoming older and there are actual babies in the house). Her costume was footie pajamas, a bib, a giant plastic bottle and a diaper worn on the outside of the pajamas. I sort of tried to warn her that there might be conversations and remarks taking place over that diaper, but she shrugged them off. If rocking a diaper is what you want to do, you go girl! And just like that, she brushed off all the comments and wore her diaper.
To everyone else I suggested going as a swim team: everyone wears already existing bathing suits. 10 yo did it, I wore mine, and I put one on 4 yo and 1 yo. 12 yo went as an old Russian lady: a kerchief on his head, a patched blanket for his back, and a drumstick for a walking cane. He even learned a few Russian phrases to go with his look, for authenticity. My husband went as... drumroll... a doctor. Yeah, we went all out. And I did not stress about the costumes or keeping with a theme.
To continue my quest for minimalism, and to decrease stress, I decided that our mishloach manot will be a simple hamentash and a clementine in a paper bag. But then I panicked that the free-form hamentashen that my kids made were too free-form, so I spent a motzei shabbos making my own batch that would look more traditional. Except that I decided to use half whole wheat flour, to be creative. But I was also impatient, so I dumped it all together with the other ingredients and got sand crumbs instead of dough. Then I panicked and started adding water and oil to make the dough come together. When it did, it did not look nice, more like sand held together with water. So much for simplicity and minimalism. I shaped that batch, baked it, and hoped for the best.
On Friday before Purim I went to work assembling these michloach manot. I used brown paper sandwich bags, stuck a hamentash and a clementine inside and stapled them with a note that proclaimed package's minimalism. I was done in half an hour, feeling so smug about quick and easy way out from this task.
Comes Purim day and we are getting ready to deliver my preassembled batch when I see that the oil from the dough seeped through the paper bags, ripping some and producing ugly oil stains on the others. Now they do not look simple, now they look ready for the garbage... as 12 yo pointed out that I should have placed a hamentash in a plastic bag first (poor environment!) I blew up at him, how he did not lift a finger with these and now tells me what I should have done.
But really, I was mad at G-d.
I just wanted something to be simple. I just wanted something to work out. I wanted to rejoice in the simplicity of stress-free mishloach manot. Usually, we make turkey wraps and give them out with pickles and a hamentash on the side. It has been our staple, but it is labor-intensive and makes distribution difficult, as it needs to be either eaten or refrigerated. Then it also requires a note warning that the wrap is fleishig but the hamentash is parve.
By the time we were ripping open the oily bags, placing hamentashen into ziplocks and I was retyping the note with our name and theme (G-d forbid I would clutter my computer with a file that I wasn't planning on reusing) and then cutting the labels, I wondered out loud whether it would not have been easier to do those turkey wraps in the first place.
Then, as the return michloach manot started to arrive, I thought whether our minimalist package would bring anyone happiness.
I hope it did, come today, the day after Purim, when there is too much candy, too many sweets, and Pesach is only four weeks away.