Thursday, March 8, 2012

Purim Lessons #1: Flexibility and Empathy

 [Note to my non-Jewish readers:
         Although this post is related to “Purim”, it is universally applicable. However, in order for you to understand it (and the follow-up post tomorrow) you will need a bit of information.
    Purim is a Jewish holiday, celebrated by sending gifts of food (“mishloach Manot”) to others, eating a festive meal (“seudah”), and by giving alms. In Jerusalem, Purim is celebrated a day later than everywhere else, and is called “Shushan Purim”. On Purim we also read the Scroll of Ester, which relates the origins of the holiday.]

The post:
       Before any holiday I wait impatiently to hear from my married sons who (if anyone) will grace our house with their presence.  Their coming is often complicated by their desire to also go to their in-laws, what type of sleeping quarters are available (since on most Jewish holidays driving is not allowed), whether their siblings will be there, etc. Often all these factors make arrangements difficult, and I have often asked them to try and see that SOMEONE will be here for any holiday, rather than them all coming one time, and none the next.
   Purim, however, is usually pretty easy. Because the in-laws of my sons all celebrate “ShushanPurim” in Jerusalem, and I celebrate the regular Purim, they can easily travel both here AND to their in-laws. (And sleeping quarters are not needed, as travel is permitted on Purim.) However, traveling for one without a car can be pretty hectic, as TONS of people travel the same bus route at the same time, and by late afternoon the buses are crammed and thus uncomfortable at best. So lately, some of my sons have had a tendency to pop in on the evening part of the day (the evening before), while my son Josh, who has a car, usually comes for the seudah in the daytime.
     However, unknown to me,  it seemed that this year Josh and his wife were eager to celebrate Purim in their own home, and the three brothers tried to ensure that SOMEONE would be around here in the daytime. But I didn’t know this….
     So my eldest son, Jacob called me, asking if I could make the seudah meal earlier, say at noon. He wanted to come for the seudah. But he was not eager to travel with his children on packed transportation. I was a bit taken aback at the question. Every Purim, after hearing the public reading of the Scroll of Ester, I run home. Then I proceed to send out my mishloach manot, and finally scramble to cook the food for the seudah. I find myself ALWAYS pressed for time, and could not imagine that I could have the festive meal at an earlier hour than our regular 3:00 schedule.  So I informed Jacob of this, and he said he would get back to me about when he would be coming. Eventually he let me know that both he and his sibling “Meir” would be coming in the evening.
     The next morning my daughter informed me that she and her husband would be at home (next to my house) in the morning, but not later in the day for the meal. I suddenly realized that if Josh wouldn’t choose to come for the seudah, my husband, Ricki, and I would be celebrating alone. And I started feeling sorry for myself, a bit bitter at the way things were turning out. (Josh hadn’t told me that he wasn’t coming, but he had hinted that he preferred to come in the evening…)
   Suddenly I realized that I was a bit angry that no one was willing to battle packed busses to see us, when there was a much easier, simpler option of having the seudah earlier. Why should I have expected my sons to do the difficult when I myself was not willing to stretch beyond the range of comfort (by having the meal earlier)???  I obviously needed to make the chances needed to ensure their presence, and THAT meant having the seudah earlier. Once I accepted that I would need to move the timing of the meal, the solution was obvious: I would cook first, and THEN deliver my mishloach manot, finishing in the late afternoon (after the repast) if need be. In the end, that is what I did, and it worked out so well that I think I even PREFER it like this.
   So hopefully I learned a bit of empathy and flexibility……


mikimi said...

Sounds like a great plan.
Changes in your life (your mine or anyone's) can be enlightening (in all understandings of the word) and Purim is a day of topsy-turvy- but I would think that eating the meal earlier might also help avoid or possibly balance much of the junk food consumption.

rickismom said...

Mikimi, you have a good point. I was actually afraid that I would over-indulge in the evening, several hours later, but I had just a small piece of cake. (Yeah, a great nutritional choice for supper, LOL, but gosh, a bit --BIT-- here and there isn't going to kill me!)