Monday, February 25, 2013
Sometimes mistakenly called the Jewish Halloween. Which it is not.
Take a step back. What is Purim? It's the Jewish holiday that celebrates the foiling of a particular plan to destroy the Jewish nation through a turning of the tables. In honor of the surprise salvation, we have a tradition of doing things "upside down". People dress up, frequently cross-dressing. We serve foods that are wrapped up -- kreplach (meat dumplings cased in dough), hamentaschen (triangle cookies with sweet filling).
There are four special Purim commandments. Reading the megillah (Book of Esther). Giving charity. Having a feast. And giving "Portions" to your friends. Obviously, it's the latter two that pose a weight loss challenge, though there is often much food served at the communal reading of the megillah.
By my estimate, I gave over 40 packages of food yesterday and received about the same number in return. That's not counting what my kids gave and received from their friends. The technical rule is the food packet has to include at least one serving each of two ready-to-eat foods. In practice, it usually includes many servings of junk. I can count on one hand the packages we received that did not consist entirely of cookies and candy: One bagel sandwich with cookies. One California roll with edamame. One "green" theme that included among the candy pickles. One bowl with honey Os and soy milk. That's really it. The other 35 odd packages had chips, chocolate, hamentashen, cookies, popcorn, jelly beans, juice boxes, soda cans, corn poppers, cupcakes, a couple of water bottles, a few fruits, candy corn, mini chocolates, marshmellows, and more. As you can imagine, my kids had a blast but my house is now full of all that stuff. I was very proud of myself for eating only what amounted to about one cookie, but why? Well, our food packet was vegetable sushi with pickled carrots. I LOVE sushi. I have not made sushi in two months because I like it way too much. Well, I had planned to have sushi for lunch, but I had not planned to have quite as much as I did. Which I actually have no idea how much that was since I just kept snacking on that whenever I wanted a cookie.
While we were out distributing our packages of food, we stopped at a street Purim party. The kids ran around with their friends comparing costumes and bouncing on the half dozen bouncy castles that were set up on front lawns. They each got cotton candy. They each got a lollipop that let them win a prize, one of which was candy. Then we got to the ice cream table and two of my boys had ice cream cones. One handed his to me while we went to play and I absent-mindedly started licking up the drops as it melted on my hand. It was really good but NOT what I needed. After I ate probably a full scoop's worth I told my son it was either take it back or I was going to trash it and he happily agreed to trash it, but the damage was done.
Then there was the "feast." A lot of Jewish holidays involve feasting and I suppose I should be grateful that Purim is only one day long -- there's Pesach coming up which is 8 days of family get togethers. But still. We were with friends who set up a lovely buffet and really it is entirely my own fault if I indulged.
Sigh. And I didn't even get to the alcohol. Alcohol is a strong tradition of Purim, part of the "upside down" nature of the holiday. It's not a big part of my Purim because I'm usually nursing or pregnant and my husband can't really tolerate alcohol, but it's there for everyone else.
As we were driving home from the party, my six year old told me I was wrong -- I had told them they would have enough candy to last an ordinary child at least a week and "we didn't even have the same number of treats as days in a week so how could that be?"
I was just toting it up in my head. He was right -- it wasn't enough for a week. It was enough for a month. What did they eat yesterday? They had Malt-o-Meal for breakfast -- and that was the last real food until dinner of meatballs and rice. In between, when I was watching, they had ice cream, cotton candy, chocolate, cookies, chips, lollipops (two apiece), dried fruit leather, fruit roll ups, and M&Ms. And that doesn't count what went on when my husband had them.
One day a year. It's only one day a year. That's what I keep telling myself.