Monday, February 23, 2009

Shaloch Manos

The day of Purim is a bare two weeks away. For those of you unfamiliar with Purim, it is SORT of like Halloween. SORT OF. Kids dress up, but rather than asking for treats from neighbors, everyone SENDS food to friends and neighbors. Also one gives charity, and hears the reading of the scroll of Ester.
Just as American holidays have become commercialized, so have ours. The stores are full to overflowing with costume accessories, and lavish (and expensive) baskets of edibles to be sent as mishloach manot (also called Shalach manos, the gifts of food). And of course the stores are pushing all sorts of noshari (candies, sweets) to be purchased for the occasion.
And as usual, I am refusing to be drawn into this “beat the Jones’s” mindset. There is no reason to become exorbitant, except to your child’s teachers (who, being an underpaid lot, deserve it) or a fiancée. I also refuse to send candy. I send what I would like to receive. Salad.
In amongst all the cookies, cake, chocolate, and canned pineapple, people I send to receive a small container of salad. Real food for real people. For those who celebrate Purim, try it. People will call you up and thank you. And if you’re sending to the teacher, you can throw in a bag of croutons. Or even better,almonds. Or, if you have to go sweet, halvah.
Of course, even if you send real food, you have the choice to “beat the Jones’s” as well. I have a friend who makes stuffed cabbage every year. (She’s from Hungarian background….) I can’t even begin to think about the amount of work that it entails. Keep it simple. Is showing off to your neighbors that you can make the fanciest and most original “gift” worth your health? (PS I am not accusing my friend of "showing off". She is such a giving person, she probably looks forward to this opportunity to lavish on others....)
Leave being fancy to your teenage daughters……..


Anonymous said...

thanks very much for the comment. writing the postt, i was very aware of how my point could've been misinterpreted as malicious, but it's good to see it hasn't.


Batya said...

Over the years, I've discovered that most people don't appreciate the mishloach manot which need the most work. Of course, I have a neighbor who insists it's not Purim without my vegetable soup. (recipe on me-ander) But on the whole I've gotten simple and even give candy.
The neighbors who love my soup give a plate of salad.

Anonymous said...

For financial reasons I am cutting our mishloach manos to the minimum this year. I'd rather have any extra dollars go to matanos l'evyonim.