Monday, March 5, 2012

Be Happy! It's Adar!

One of the great joys of having a married son is you get a daughter out of the deal, and after living in land o'guys for so long, having a daughter with which to share girl stuff is just one big giant smile. 

My daughter-in-law
My daughter-in-law has been around as the junior son's significant other since high school. She was part and parcel of this family for a long time before we lost Steve, and in fact, she was here when he slipped away. So when the first Adar rolled around and I could not bring myself to make hamantaschen without him, she leapt into action and not only made all the hamantaschen, but shipped them out to the family. Last year, without being asked, she did it again because she knew I wasn't there yet. This year, however, it was time to return to the land of the living, and before she could schedule her own hamantaschen baking, I asked if she would like to join me. Without hesitation, she said, "Yes! Of course!" and we planned for Sunday. 

Now this might seem easy enough, but the truth is that this is all very hard for me.

 Haman and Vashti 
Adar is the month of Purim, when we celebrate the story of Queen Esther and how replaced Queen Vashti and then saved the Jews of the Persian Empire when Haman wanted to destroy them all. If you've never encountered the Book of Esther, it's right there in your Bible...right between Ecclesiastes and least that's where it is in the Hebrew version. It's a little book, only 10 little chapters, a mere 167 verses in all, and never once is G-d mentioned. A great story, it's got all the elements of the first class feminist spy novel... a queen contest, bad politics, plots up the wazoo...John le Carré  could do no better! 

Queen Esther's jester
The holiday is called Purim for the lots that were cast to decide the date of the Jews' destruction. For us, it's like Halloween in reverse. You dress up, often in costumes of the characters, but instead of trick'or'treat, you do shalach manot....going around delivering little packages of sweets for your family and friends. In fact, our rabbi always says if you trick'or'treat at Halloween, you must promise to deliver shalach manot for Purim. And for Jewish women, it's the kickoff to the month-long countdown to Passover...when our kitchens are turned topsy-turvy and great feasts are prepared. 

It used to be "Be Happy, It's Adar" in this house. But at Purim 2009, we had the first warning something was not right. All the "Do you want me to call Tom?.... Would you please call Tom and move up your appointment?.... Steve, you shouldn't wait another two weeks for your appointment with Tom," went unheeded. Would going in earlier have made a difference? Should I have forced him to go? (Like that would've happened.) Did I do enough? Say enough? Holler enough? I can second guess myself into the Olam ha'Ba  and it won't make a difference. But that month of happiness, Adar, seems to have become the month of annual self-flagellation, ending only at the first day of Pesach, the day we learned there was no future. 

So to have my daughter-in-law to myself for hamatashen baking is a great gift. I probably repeat the same stories year after year, but it's as if telling and retelling should make them easier. It does and it doesn't. But it's of great consolation to me to have her there. She rolled the dough, I placed the fillings, we baked, we laughed, we packed, we labeled, and she took to the post office to send. It was teamwork. 

Hamantaschen for all! There's lekvar, apricot, raspberry and a newcomer: chocolate!

I wasn't alone. And working together, I could almost be happy that it was Adar. 

King Ahashverus

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Need a quick kiddie Purim costume?
Cut a head hole out of the top of a pillowcase, 
then arm holes on the side. 
Paint with acrylic paint or use Magic Marker. 
Works like a charm


  1. Your daughter-in-law looks like a nice girl, but those kids of yours look like a couple of hoodlums. Must take after your side of the family...

    1. Yeah, total hoodlums. They steal hubcaps from the rich and give them to the poor. They drive around in a Radish Rocket and terrorize Doozers. What's a mother to do???????????

  2. Nice story, Susan. It brought me a smile, a tear, and a whole lot of erudition.

  3. I'm sure I'm on the distribution list (do you need the address?), but I'm concerned that the Hamantash will not be in my home in time for Purim... you do know it's starts Wed. night, right?

    Do you think you should run over to the post office, grab 'em back and send them Fedex? Would that be too much to ask? (I am sure your daughter-in-law would be only too happy to do so.)

    Oh, and one other thing if it's not too late to ask: please include a couple of chocolate ones in my package. Tenks.

  4. "I know I keep saying this, but We, The People are going to get the government we elect, and by extension, deserve. Maybe then we can learn from our mistakes."

    I just saw comments on the New York Times web page. Very well put! My fedora is tipped to you.

    Have a look at my blog when you have a moment or two. It's a hoot!

    All the best,

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY