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Fiction: Beyond Expectations

Malky Cope

“Don’t you think you’re both secure enough in your friendship that you don’t have to give each other the fanciest mishloach manos to prove it?”

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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I' ’m a last-minute sort of person. Which kind of figures, because who else would only start putting their mishloach manos together on Purim night? My younger siblings were all in bed and everyone else was out having fun. Only I was stuck at home, suffering the results of my procrastination, with a job that couldn’t be put off any longer. 

I turned the music on — blaring — and got straight to work filling 15 cereal bowls with different breakfast-themed items. Then, after wrapping each one with cellophane, I stuck on a cute poem. They looked pretty adorable by the time I was done. My work wasn’t yet finished for the night though. I still had Debby’s mishloach manos to make. Debby is my best friend and we have this age-old tradition (don’t ask me who started it) to make a special themed mishloach manos for each other. Each year they’ve gotten bigger and better (and of course more expensive).

I spent over an hour assembling the masterpiece for Debby. When the troops finally stumbled back home (drunk or just plain hyper?), I was done and had even finished tidying up the colossal mess created in the process.

“It’s gorgeous,” my mother said when she saw my creation. “But the whole thing has gone a bit overboard. You’ve spent so much time, effort, and money and I’m sure Debby’s done the same for you. Don’t you think you’re both secure enough in your friendship that you don’t have to give each other the fanciest mishloach manos to prove it?”

The truth was that my mother was right, and I knew it. We had no one but ourselves to blame for this crazy pressure. But what could I do? I couldn’t just stop the trend. Nor did I want to be the one to make that suggestion. I didn’t want Debby to think I was being cheap at the expense of our friendship. But I would have been overjoyed if we could have just made a pact to give each other an ordinary mishloach manos instead of investing a lot of my hard-earned cash, every year, into preparing the most stunning package for her. I mean it was pretty awesome to receive this whole fancy package with tons of nosh and cute accessories but don’t forget that I had to prepare one in return.

Purim morning dawned bright and sunny. I was up in a flash and off to shul to hear the Megillah before you could even say “Haman.” This year, for the first time, I had a whole schedule planned for Purim morning. I had begun to volunteer for an organization that arranged for teenage girls to visit lonely, older ladies in their homes. None of my classmates had signed up for the program with me but over the course of time I had gotten quite friendly with some girls from other schools who were volunteers. Every Sunday, I visited three ladies, and for Purim, the organization had arranged for us to deliver mishloach manos to them and inject them with a bit of the Purim spirit.

After listening to Megillah, I consumed a quick breakfast and then went to put on my Purim getup; a black hoodie adorned with smiley faces, and big smiley earrings that were bound to make even the grumpiest person smile. Before leaving, I issued instructions regarding the mishloach manos. Then I set off to do my rounds, feeling quite altruistic for giving up Purim morning to do chesed. (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 699)

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