July 23, 2024
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July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A few years ago, a friend confided in me, sharing that while some of her kids were receiving many mishloach manot deliveries, one of her kids had gotten none. And while she took her kids around to deliver, and mishloach manot were exchanged with her as the initiator, there is still something special about having the doorbell ring, and it being an unexpected giver. She quickly called a few moms and had to ask if their kids could come by to drop off mishloach manot for this child, so that she, too, could feel cared for.

But we shouldn’t have to be making these calls, begging people to show up and make our kids feel loved. There shouldn’t be kids at home who sit and watch as package after package comes to their siblings, who count out every last Laffy Taffy, comparing how much candy each received, and that child has zero. It’s a holiday that brings joy to so many, but also leaves people out, becoming a painful reminder, a glaring announcement that says, “You have no friends,” or maybe even, “You like your friends more than they like you.”

There are some families where the day is so hectic, rushing from one delivery to the next, to the grade meetups, to Megillah, and then a party and seuda, swiftly running home, noting all the missed deliveries, and running back out again to return the favor to those they had missed. And they complain about the fervor, the busyness, the inability to sit for a moment and take a breath between the sugar rushes and blasting music that thumps through the wheels of their cars. But there are also those whose homes are quiet. People who are new to the neighborhood, or those who don’t get out that much. Singles, shy, neurodivergent, divorced, or those who are not well, people in financial crisis, and some, for a variety of reasons, who are running away from it all. Yes, there are those who may very much prefer a more quiet type of day, but what if they don’t? What if they yearn for the fullness, but feel so very empty?

There are times when I’ve been on the planning committee of various events, and always, a fleeting fear runs through my head: “What if nobody shows up?” It’s that gnawing bit of doubt, the discrepancy between the expectation and the very real possibility of a lonely outcome. I think this is what sometimes happens. The kids who dream big, of multiple friends arriving, or the women who imagine a house overflowing with guests and laughter, but the light of the actuality is far dimmer than the bright picture the imagination had painted. The disappointment weighs heavy.

For many years, I encouraged my kids to deliver to an additional child, one who was not in their immediate circle of friends, one who might not otherwise get anything. I could envision the sad eyes, sitting and looking out the window, the child who would hold his breath, heart fluttering with excitement at every car that passed by, imagining it was slowing to a stop, and then feeling deflated when it continued on. I told them they had the power to make someone’s Purim happy, Venahafoch Hu.

There have been years where it’s been us, the gap between what I thought the day should be versus what it actually was. The feeling of loneliness that can blossom amidst the chaos of the day, still ever present and pervasive, and you try to mute it, to turn the music louder to quiet the doubt in your mind. The evaluating in your head whether or not someone whom you consider to be a friend actually thinks of you in the same way. Of seeing what others are doing and wondering why you were excluded, why you didn’t have a partner to dress up with, or why nobody invited you to go party-hopping with them. There are a thousand moments of fun on Purim, but also a thousand opportunities to be left out. Sometimes it’s you, and sometimes it’s others, and the Wheel of Misfortune often spins and takes its toll on everyone, indiscriminately.

I wish I had a magic cure for this, but I don’t. So just be nice. Know that while Purim may be fun for you, there are those for whom it is very much not. Find those people, keep them in mind for all of the holidays, and consciously make an effort to do one small thing to make it a tiny bit better. We all have the power to create great shifts in the world, turning loneliness into inclusivity, one small step a time.


Sarah Abenaim is a writer, life coach, and journaling workshop curator, who lives with her husband and kids. For questions or comments, you are encouraged to reach out to her at [email protected], or via her website, www.sarahabenaim.com.

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