The Biggest Masquerade

Once upon a time there was a town. In that town, there was a street. And on that street, which we shall call Hidden Lane to protect the residents’ privacy, lived three Jewish families. In each of those wonderful families, Purim preparations were well under way.

We shall begin with the Dahak’s since their Purim fever had actually begun from the festival’s departure the year before. On Shushan Purim, the Dahak family actually held a meeting at their dining room table, narrowed down the possible themes to four, and cast their votes. Emojis were soooo overdone. The idea of household appliances was voted too impractical. Bunnies were “girly – ewww!” And, in the end, cereal boxes won out.

Over the next few months, Mrs. Dahak selected  materials to design her adorable cereal box costumes. She hired a graphic designer to produce customized cereal boxes to hold the mishloach manot. She did not make final plans, but, according to her calendar, Mrs. Dahak was two months ahead of schedule, so she did not panic. She booked the makeup artist to paint the children’s faces, jotted down a reminder to shop for one more pair of red and yellow sneakers, and began drafting a poem to knock everybody’s socks off. Of course, since the Dahak’s were known on the block for their annual over-the-top Purim entertainment, she arranged for a Snap, Crackle, and Pop magic show whose magicians were to arrive in a custom-designed Kellogg’s delivery truck. Why, even the photographer she’d booked would be shocked. Purim! Mrs. Dahak thought, exhilarated. Here we come!

Just two doors down lived the Levy family. About a week before Purim, Mrs. Levy whisked out her clear sectional containers from last year. Phew! She exhaled. No signs of yellowing on these containers. She drew up a list of precut veggies to buy from the farmers’ market on her way home from work. The next day, Mrs. Levy folded her arms as she admired her food gifts. “Practical. Healthy. Just what everybody wants on a sugar-filled day,” she said aloud to nobody in particular. “And with Pesach around the corner…” She trailed off, reaching for last year’s Purim seuda menu.

As far as costumes went, Mrs. Levy’s eight year old wanted to be a policeman again, her four year old, a kallah, and the baby did not need a costume. For goodness’ sake, he spat up every hour, and, at that rate, would need at least twelve costumes.

Moving a little farther down the street, one could find the Klutzman Family. Mrs. Klutzman was determined to get it right this year. Normally, she was the one fumbling around town erev Purim in heavy traffic shopping for ingredients and other Purim essentials. This year, she prepared her cookie dough and froze it early. Luckily, her kids coordinated their own costumes, so all that needed to be done was to pop the cookies into the oven and toss them into cello bags.  Mrs. Klutzman was quite proud of herself for her organization.

Now, being a seasoned space-out, Mrs. Klutzman knew it was essential to set a timer for her cookies. She set her phone alarm to ring in ten minutes and went about giving her kids baths. Forty minutes later, an alarm went off but, alas, it was not her phone’s. It was the smoke alarm. And on that erev Purim, she stood on her front steps explaining to some burly firefighters: “How was I supposed to know that my phone would decide to die just minutes after setting my alarm?” Mrs. Klutzman knew that, once again, she’d be pulling an all-nighter.

Moving a little closer to our point, the Dahak, Levy, and Klutzman families all had teenage girls, who were, coincidentally, classmates at the same high school. Each was an idealistic personality who soaked up the lessons of their teachers and mentors. They each knew that they wanted to infuse their Purim with the meaning that they learned about at school.

What is this day about, anyway? They pondered. Am I going to let the day flyby in a blur of cellophane and pastries and hullabaloo?

Big, fat, juicy “No!” was the answer. The girls gushed to their families about the value of the day, how we derive comfort from the clear, guiding Hand of Hashem who had been orchestrating the awesome events of the Purim story despite our seemingly bleak  circumstances. They knew Purim was a Black Friday of sorts for prayer, and, on Purim itself, they passed around sifrei Tehillim to encourage their families to pack in what they could of the stuff that really counts.

It was obvious, that with such strengthening of their emunah on that day, the Dahak’s, the Levy’s, and the Klutzman’s… lived happily ever after.