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Happy Purim, everyone!

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20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21  to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.  26 (Therefore these days were called Purim, from the word pur .) (Esther 9:20-22,26)

So today is Purim. I know I have written about this holiday and why I much prefer Purim to Halloween before, but since today is Purim once again, I gotta write about it… again.

We have been preparing for Purim for about two weeks now. A friend’s entry about the home made costumes of her childhood inspired us to make the kids’ costumes at home. After several changes of plans, we finished all four costumes Friday morning, so the boys could take them to their school parties. They all had fun, and I decided that the kids had enough exposure to the Book of Esther in school for this year, so the only other time they will hear it at shul will be tomorrow when we head out to see my sister and brother in Jerusalem, where Purim is celebrated tomorrow. We did read the megillah at home on Saturday evening, though. 
This morning the boys were super excited to wake up to check out their mishloach manot (food portions, or really in this case gift baskets that is a mitzvah to send on Purim) that had been delivered early in the morning by their cousins, who are driving through town. (It’s traditionally the kids’ job to deliver the food portions.) Then they delivered each other’s gifts from us. You see, the gift giving holiday in Judaism, contrary to poular belief, is not Chanukah. It’s Purim. While the mitzvah is about sending portions if two readily edible foods, these mishloach manot have become a lot more festive and complicated. For my kids a few toys (mostly Legos), gift certificates and art supplies are also carefully hidden in the baskets.
The kids were taking a big part of creating the gift baskets, bags and boxes we gave away this year. They had been busy with helping the adults bake, and were making long shopping lists about who should get what. Craig and one of his friends at achool even made small tin boxes out of recycled tins (or cans) that were filled with tiny hamantaschen (Purim cookie) to go into every package. I have to admit I’m not that awfully happy about my kid working with recycled tins in workshop, but then I have to remind myself that his classmates are two years older than him. They are also very good with helping Craig out. The kids also saved up their pocket money to make/buy “mini manot” for their friends. Theirs included juice boxes, chocolate, nuts and potato chips. The adult ones usually also include wine or other spirits, as on Purim it is almost a commandment to get drunk. (That’s the one Purim mitzvah I try not to do!) They also did give money to the poor and are now busy with delivering gifts (P and Justin) and helping Janice prepare tonight’s super festive dinner (Craig and Matthew).
This year we have 4 cousins and an uncle serving in the military in Israel and two cousins serving in the military in the US, and yet another cousin deployed in Afghanistan who all received their gifts just in time. Cousin Alan, who is deployed in Afghanistan, was Skype-ing with my elder brother and SIL (who are visiting for the holidays) and my kids got to talk to him as well. He got the package we (meaning my immediate family and a couple other siblings of mine) put together yesterday, so he could give some of the mini manot to other Jewish soldiers, whose packages haven’t made it.

We went to see a parade, participated in school and neighborhood activities, and now are just finishing up the last touches before dinner. My grandparents came to visit, and they are staying with us. Grandma and Janice have been working for the best roast ever! Plus, we have an insane amount of hamantaschen.

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