this should really be a series of mini-posts, but I'm just going to dump this all out into one long (boring?) post
i always felt like this was the 'lost' fast. with all the other fast days, there is a lot of focus and reflection on why we're fasting, but with Taanis Esther, it's all making the mishloach manot, preparing the costumes, and cooking the food. i had class on Monday, and it was one of the hardest fasts I've ever done (not including Yom Kippurs) because everyone around me was eating. french fries, pizza, chicken, soup, cake, crackers, pretzels...i think i started hallucinating and saw dancing donuts march in front of my eyes. and the beads on my instructors necklace looked like candies...
i tried to study, but i could barely hear my thoughts over the rumbling protest of my stomach. it hadn't helped that i forgot to eat lunch the day before.
the question is, do you wear costumes at night? my shul does a chagiga following megillah reading, so we've always come dressed up in costume. this year was no different. my costume was a very last minute decision, and i was very impressed with myself that it came out so good. my entire family always dresses up, even my parents. there are a few families in the shul who are into matching themes; the costumes, the mishloach manot, the seudah, the wall decorations, it all ties in. this year was no exception. of course there were they typical costumes, queens, brides, princesses, Indians, cowboys/girls, punks, sports figures. the girls usually pick costumes that include one or more of the following:
big dangly earrings
a lot of makeup
the boys usually choose a costume that includes one or more of the following:
my idea of a perfect megillah reading is one where you can bang for the first and last Haman, and in between the reader reads right through all the other Hamans. the worse reading i ever sat through was when i was in seminary. it took an hour and fifteen minutes. pure agony. our shul has instituted a policy of no caps or any smoking or banging things during megillah reading. thank goodness for that. brother2 set off so many poppers and bombs that my nerves were totally shot by the end of Purim.
this morning, i had a little salvation of my own with Megillah reading. i had the problem of a clinical that started at 8 am and finished at 1 pm. since they changed the clock (why is it phrased that way, "they" changed the clock, we are the ones who change the clock...) there was no minyan that would be finished before 8 am. so i was going to have to make my dad my shomer to make sure i would hear megillah. slightly annoying, but that's part of life.
the facility that my clinical was located in is Jewish facility, and there were signs everywhere that announced Megillah reading at 10:15. so i took a chance, held my breath, and asked my instructor if i could leave the class to hear Megillah...and she said yes!
the thing about mishloach manot that confuses me the most is the whole reciprocity thing. you have to leave someone at home to give mishloach manot to the people who come, but then you run into the problem of one person getting two from you. or none. and even leaving a list isn't foolproof. because what if you decide to run into someone's house and don't tell the person at home? i decided that next year I'm going to make one mishloach manot. just one. I'll give it to the first person who gives to me. and then I'll take the one they give me and give it to the next person who gives to me. except I'll run into a problem if there are labels on it. or if i give to a friend who will then have two of the exact same mishloach manot. sister1 says she's saving the bags and containers that she received mishloach manot in and next year she's going to give everyone mishloach manot in the bags that they gave her in this year.