I guess you can say it kind of feels like Halloween these days.
On Purim (the holiday we are now in the midst of celebrating which commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire where a plot had been formed to destroy them), there are several mitzvot (commandments) Jewish people are obligated to fulfill.
One of which is sending “mishloach manot” (literally, sending of portions) to friends and family.
As far as I’m aware, the commandment (which comes from the Book of Esther) is to send a gift consisting of two different ready-to-eat kinds of food to at least one recipient.
Other than that, there are no guidelines pertaining to which kinds of food should go into these baskets. Yet most of them typically contain all kinds of pastries (including the most important Hamantaschen – the triangular-filled cookies – as a reminder of the evil villain Haman who sought to destroy the Jews) and wine.
So, over the past few days, my family and I were blessed to have received almost a half-dozen of these relatively large baskets.
And, we were fortunate to have been able to give them as well.
And, while I understand the cultural importance of celebrating holidays and life with food and while I feel incredibly blessed that we received so many baskets this year and in the past, I question why is it that we give and receive baskets with so many unhealthy food options on this (and other) holidays?
Personally, I’m still on my cleanse and didn’t touch anything in any of those baskets (except for the delicious cashews that one of our friends lovingly added into her basket specifically for me), my family hasn’t stopped eating from these baskets for three days now.
Even my husband, who tends to eat incredibly healthfully stated that he feels sick from all the junk he’s been eating.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Why, when I try to educate my children about healthy eating habits on every other day of the year, do I allow them to devour sweets endlessly for days on end during this holiday season?
Why, if I disfavor the concept of exchanging unhealthy food gifts, do I perpetuate the tradition by sending out the same exact gifts that I receive?
Why, when I know my society is hurting itself by overloading on sugar, do I not put a stop to all of this once and for all!
Wait a minute…
I think I’m stuck on a food revolution!!!
And, I think I’ve got the solution!!!
What about if….
instead of sending unhealthy Purim food baskets, we tried sending baskets filled with…
triangular-shaped mini-pizzas, where the kids can decorate faces that depict the different characters from the Purim story?
Or, vegetable sticks along with a home-made Persian dip?
Or, a small fruit salad?
Or, some triangular-shaped sandwich filled with roasted vegetables?
Or, how about a smoothie?
Or, triangular-shaped pieces of cheese with grapes or olives?
Or, triangular-shaped watermelon or cantaloupe?
You got the picture, eh?
So, this is my plan for next year.
I’m going to make a new kind of mishloach manot basket.
And, I’m sure people will catch on.
In fact, they’ll think it’s an awesome idea and won’t be able to wait to create their very own!
And, the following year, as more and more people talk about this great concept that the STUCK blogger wrote about, more and more people will change their food gifts to include healthier alternatives and less sugary options.
Until all of us are sending and receiving 100% HEALTHY Purim baskets.
I see it.
Even if it’s on something “good”.
So, I stop and pause.
And, tell myself what I’m feeling (frustrated with all the cakes and “junk” in our house, and frustrated with our society that supports this tradition, and angry that no one is putting a stop to it).
I look what’s underneath this all: fear of getting sick, fear of teaching my kids bad habits, fear of getting overweight.
And, then I consider my options or choose how I can perceive this situation differently.
The truth is, the tradition is lovely in fact.
It really is.
And people (including myself) love to give these gifts as much as (or even more than) they enjoy receiving them.
So, yes, I can make my Purim baskets differently next year (and I will, so beware!)
And, I will teach my kids the concept of moderation.
And remember that it’s possible to freeze home-baked goods that can be eaten at another time.
But, no, I don’t have to create a revolution.
I certainly don’t want, G-d forbid, people to feel insulted or judged by the gifts they send us.
And most importantly, instead of looking into the future to create change, I must remember (and remind my children) that these gift baskets, among other things, are meant to be symbols and visions for our people’s love and friendship for one another.
And certainly no one can overload on that.