The Purim Mirage
It started as a fight about Dippin’ Dots.
Don’t know what those are?
No need to feel bad – neither did my husband. He made the egregious mistake of assuming my daughter
meant dot candy – you know, those circles affixed to wax paper that kids used to gnaw at like little
sheep. (Do they still sell those? How are they FDA approved?)
So, when she proposed a Dippin’ Dot themed mishloach manos for our family, Yossi gave his quick
approval. “Sure! That sounds like a great plan. The costume will be easy – just white paper with colorful
dots! – and those candies are really cheap.”
“No, no, Ta,” she corrected him. “Not dot candy – Dippin’ Dots. The ice cream that they sell at malls, the
kind that everyone loves.”
My husband is not a denizen of malls, so she may as well have been speaking a foreign language. It’s a
good thing she had done her research, though, because she was fully prepared to make her pitch to her
“Amazon has Dippin’ Dot t-shirts and matching caps, so costumes will be super easy, nice and neat and
not homemade looking.” (Ouch. That feels like a dig at my attempts in previous years).
“The ice cream is pareve and they are sold as individual servings, so the mishloah manos is ready to give
out – no need for cellophane or ribbons.” (Smart girl. She knows how to speak her arts-n-crafts-
challenged mother’s language). “We can add dot candy because it fits with the theme, and that way
we’ll have two minim.” (Now my husband’s listening).
She was so passionate and persuasive and prepared that my husband and I were this close to signing off
on Dippin’ Dots as the Berkovic family theme, when my seven-year-old-son wandered into the room and
knocked the wind out of her sails.
“There is no way I am dressing up as Dippin’ Dots for Purim. That is not a costume for a boy.”
She was ready for him. “Look, there is a blue t-shirt and a blue cap. It’s totally boyish, and boys like ice
He would not be swayed. He had a million other ideas – a ninja. A football player. A Ukrainian soldier
(new for 2023!) – but none that fit prettily into a theme, and certainly not a Dippin’ Dots theme. Plus, he
had another complaint. “You can’t just put a t-shirt on Yehuda! He’s only two and he can’t read; he’ll have no idea what he’s dressed up as and it will ruin all his fun!”
He had a point.
My little guy would be over the moon to dress up as a clown or as a monkey or as a fireman, but as a
Dippin’ Dot mascot? Not so much. Why should we sacrifice his Purim at the altar of his sister’s big ideas?
So, just like that, Dippin’ Dots as a family theme was off the table. We assured my daughter she was
welcome to use Dippin’ Dots as her solo theme, but it just didn’t seem to hold the same appeal. “Normal
families do themes together,” she pouted, and the histrionics that followed weren’t pretty.
I told my husband that when she’d calm down, I was ready to give her THE SPEECH. The one where I said
her behavior was not in the spirit of Purim, and that we don’t get to badger or bully our younger siblings
to wear boring t-shirts and caps if they want to dress in silly costumes.
With all my righteous indignation, I would remind her that Purim is Yom Tov when we give to others,
when we’re positive and festive and reveling in the miracles Klal Yisrael saw so many years ago. It’s not a
Hallmark holiday where we are only concerned about the optics or the crowd’s approval; it’s an
opportunity to feel joyful and grateful and uplifted.
But just before I got my lecture going, I had a lightbulb moment. I realized what my daughter really
wanted. She didn’t want control over her family members. She didn’t want to stifle everyone else’s
creativity in service of her own. She didn’t even want Dippin’ Dots, as delicious as she thinks they are.
She wanted the picture.
She wanted the picture she could affix to the front of her looseleaf that could announce to all her
classmates, “See! My family is cute and classy and creative just like yours!” She wanted the picture that
could proclaim to the world that “We’re worthy of your admiration” and “Aren’t you a tiny bit jealous of
who awesome we are?” She wanted her friends to gush: “Your little brother is sooo cute” and “I wish I
would’ve thought of a Dippin Dots theme” and “Next year, I’m coming to your house first.”
I could pretend that I didn’t relate to that artifice at all, but then how else would I explain the times I run
around my house like a madwoman before a guest comes because I think I can fool them into believing
that my house is always spotless? What about the times when I kick my husband under the table
because he’s about to say the wrong thing and I don’t want anyone sitting next to us to judge us as
anything less than the perfect couple? Or the times I give my kids withering stares when we’re out in
public – stop fighting with your sister and don’t put French fries in your soda – because society at large
must believe that my children are always perfectly behaved?
I’ve wasted enough hours in my life chasing the mirage, and I can’t fault my daughter for embarking on
the same futile pursuit.
So, I sympathize, kiddo. I wish your Purim could be as picture perfect as you dream it could be. But one
day you’ll realize that Purim is a celebration of letting go of that sense of control because Hakadosh
Baruch Hu taught us years ago in Shushan that He alone holds the strings and that we can trust that
everything we experience is for our own good.
One day you will realize (hopefully sooner than I) that the life we are given is the life designed exactly
for us, and perfection is far emptier than contentment.
So, the brother who ruins all your Purim plans on purpose, the father who doesn’t want to rent a Dippin’
Dots truck even though it would be the cutest idea ever, and the mother who writes about your every
move in a magazine read by thousands and is so embarrassing– that’s all far from perfect but also
perfectly part of His plan.
And you wouldn’t want it any other way.
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