L aylee reached over the table and grabbed the stapler from Sarah. “Collate.”

“I’m collating!”

“Your eyes were closed.”

Sarah stifled a yawn. “I’m very talented, I don’t need to see while I collate.”

“But you do need your thumb. And you were about to staple that paper to it.”

Sarah looked down at her thumb, blinked hard.

“It’s three in the morning, Sarah. Go to sleep,” Laylee said.

“No. I’m helping. The lawyer said this could help, so I’m helping. I finished 2015, what’s left?”

Laylee was quiet, staring down at the photo on the table in front of her. She let out a little sigh. “Winter Wonderland. Purim 2012. Perla was a little snowflake.” Gavi and I look happy… probably because we felt like we had the greatest shalach manos Elmway had ever seen, we gave out a million of those glass snow globes….

“Ah, yes. I believe a snow machine was involved. And those ice formations at your seudah… subtle touch, Lay. Understated elegance.”

“Yeah, well.” Laylee let out a little laugh, tossed the photo to Sarah. “We were new to the community, this young couple, parading around like royalty…”

“No, you did royalty in 2011.”

“I mean, looking back, everyone probably hated us. People keep Purim simple around here, that’s the standard. And we came and just… It’s actually embarrassing,” she mumbled.

Sarah shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “You have been known to… I suppose there were times when you might have gone a little overboard….”

Laylee raised her eyebrows at the understatement.

“But, Laylee, look at all of this. Sure, some people might have been thrown off by the extravagance. But along with all those ridiculous shalach manos, are lists of people and organizations Gavi helped out every Purim, handing out check after check. And that’s going to help your case.

“The fact that you guys have been consistently generous across the board, the fact that Neil was just one of the many who benefited from your generosity, that this is just standard Purim procedure for the Beloffs, that could make all the difference.”

Laylee feigned shock. “Look who’s ventured over to my side of the table. Are you trying to convince me that my ostentatious, wasteful, over-the-top shalach manos were actually a good thing?”

Sarah rolled her eyes. “Calm down. I said nothing of the sort.”

Laylee began laughing, and Sarah joined in, just as Gavi walked into the kitchen.

“Glad to see you’re all having a blast,” he muttered, opening the fridge.

Sarah shot Laylee a look. “We were just finishing up. I’m off to bed.” She left the kitchen quickly. Laylee watched as Gavi closed the fridge door empty-handed, then opened the pantry, rummaging through the canned goods haphazardly. Gavi had been sinking deeper and deeper into himself over the last week. If I can get him to look at the situation more positively, instead of just giving up…

“Gavi, we have a strong case,” Laylee said softly. “It’s going to be okay.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 536)