By now you might have seen that our family dressed up as Waldo from Where’s Waldo for Purim 5778! We had a great Purim. Not only did we have great fun in our Waldo costumes, but we experienced a small miracle and learned a powerful lesson. So today, I’m sharing with you pictures of our Waldo Purim costumes (a lot of them!) and the back story and lesson we learned as we tried to put these costumes together.
While my younger kids had decided on their costumes pretty early on, three weeks before Purim, my twelve year old son still had no idea what to wear. I guess it gets kind of harder as you approach the teenage years. Suddenly, I had the idea that he should dress up as Waldo, and surprisingly enough, he thought it was a great idea. (Score!)
In fact, he suggested that the whole family dress up as Waldo! And I have to admit that I loved that idea! We had never dressed up as a family and my husband had been traveling a LOT. He would be coming back from overseas right on erev Purim/Taanit Esther, so it seemed fitting to do as much as possible to increase the sense of joy and togetherness as possible. My daughters also liked this idea and they were ok with giving up the costumes that they had thought of, and go along with the new “Where’s Waldo” plan/theme instead.
Part of the reason I loved this costume theme is that it could be a play on the concept of hiding in the Megillah. You know… H”s name is not in the megillah – He’s “hiding” – the filling hiding inside the hamentashen, or Esther, derived from the word hester – hidden. Get it? Waldo also hides… Yes? Our mishloat manot could have a cute riddle or poem alluding to all this. See where my brain was going?
The only problem is that my husband hadn’t love the idea of my son dressing up as Waldo (and so I didn’t dare tell him that now we ALL wanted to dress up as Waldo!)
He had said, “if you can find something better – more Jewish – it would be best, but if you can’t, well ok.” So, I knew I was ok ordering a Waldo costume for my son, just in case we couldn’t come up with anything else in the interim. But, I knew that it would be best to find something else and let the other kids wear other costumes. I was hesitant to tell him that I thought we should all be Waldo. Thus, I didn’t order costumes for the rest of us. I was giving myself some time to see how/if I could convince him.
In addition, if you’ve been here a while, you know that as much as I love fancy, beautiful, and all that, I have a super practical side, which thinks in terms of what’s easiest and what’s most cost efficient. (I talked about this here.) Simplicity and cost are always top on my list, especially when it comes to holidays like Purim where there are other mitzvot associated with it, and thus, both energy and financial resources need to be diverted towards those mitzvot as well.
I didn’t want to upset my husband, so I kept toying with the original plan (ie. our son is Waldo and everyone else is whatever they wanted to be and have their own mishloat manot packages to match – because my creative daughters had already decided what their mishloat manot would be to match their costumes.) Now, the more I looked into getting everyone a different costume and everyone making different styles mishloat manot, the more appealing the “let’s all be Waldo idea” became.
1- same costume for all the kids = simpler and cheaper
2- same mishloat manot for the whole family = simple and cheaper
In addition, if both parents would join in as Waldo… well come on, that would be FUN!
When my son’s Waldo shirt, beanie and glasses came, and we all tried it on, we knew we had to all do it. (Except my youngest son, as you’ll soon see.) Waldo was cute, fun, and hey, did I mention simple and cheaper?
The problem was I was running out of time to ask my husband and then execute. I really didn’t want to upset him. I finally sent a message via What’s App to my husband introducing the situation. We got to talk about it and he told me he understood, and that I should do whatever was easiest for me. Green light. (The fact that at this point I’d been a over a week alone with the kids probably helped.)
Our five year old son had decided he doesn’t want to be Waldo and even though we made him try on the costume, he didn’t budge. He had his heart on being Agent Emes and I knew there was no fighting this five year old, so I had ordered him his Agent Emes detective costume already, just in case.
Now it was time to place the orders of the Waldo stuff for the rest of us. I diligently placed the order on Amazon Prime and was expecting to receive the items on the Friday before Purim. By the way, if next year you want to replicate what I did, here’s what I ordered:
Well, thank G-d I eventually looked at the order, because I had not noticed that Amazon had tried to charge an old debit card that was on file and, of course the order had not been processed. (Note to self: Make sure Amazon has the email address that I actually check regularly and not the one intended for junk.)
My kids were not very nice about this unexpected “delay.” But, I calmed everybody down and said, “look if I order now, we’ll have everything by Tuesday and Purim is not till Wednesday night.” My kids, some of who are extremely punctual and organized, were not thrilled with my nonchalant attitude. Trust me, neither was I, but hey a mother has to pretend. So nonchalant I pretended to be. Enter guilt and frustration because, after all, I thought that I had been pretty organized and creative.
My kids were tense. I was tense. I communicated my tension to my husband via What’ App – who then sent the following message:
I knew he was right, but I was not ready to be the recipient of my husband’s eternal optimism and unshakable faith. Again, remember I’ve been parenting by myself for almost ten days. Not a walk in the park.
The Tuesday before Purim arrived, and at this point we had:
- Waldo beanie, glasses and shirt for one son
- Waldo shirt for two daughters
- Mishloat Manot bags to match our Waldo costume
- Labels for the mishloat manot bags
- Food items to put inside the bags
- Waldo glasses for everyone
Good. We were still missing the following items: (But were meant to receive them at 8:00 pm that night.)
- Beanies for two girls, myself and my husband
- Shirt for me – I had opted to have my husband in a beanie and glasses only.
Still, all was good since, after all Amazon, would be delivering by 8 pm. Right? Hmmm…
I had intended to come up with a cute poem to go on our mishloat manot labels, but although the the kids and I had tried for days, inspiration had not struck and our poems were total flops. The irony is that my husband is so good at this stuff; he could have whipped us a clever poem or riddle in 5 minutes flat. But again, he was on the other side of the world, super busy and not very reachable. It seemed ludicrous to assign him this “important” task.
At 7 pm the kids and I decided to sit at the computer to give a shot to the poem yet again. I may be a writer, but a poet I am not. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Some family members were getting aggravated. We said, “ok let’s just make labels with no poem.”
I started designing the labels and my photoshop started acting up. So, I decided to work on Pages. Oh well, that was slow and cumbersome.
I was on my Mac pretending this is a breeze. Meanwhile the kids really should have been in the shower and getting ready for bed, but they were on top of me, giving unsolicited opinions.
And did I mention I got a few “How come you didn’t do these labels before? Why does it all have to be last minute? I mean, come on, it’s the night before Purim… the mishloat manot are not ready and we don’t even have our costumes!” (Enter mothers’ guilt and frustration, again.)
Hhhmm maybe I’m not soooo organized??? I really should just admit it. And as my kids seemed to suggest, a “good mother” would have had everything ready by now. And let’s not forget that she also wouldn’t have children who have chutzpa. Hers are lovely, appreciative, and kind, and surely are all bathed and in PJ’s by 7:30 pm! Obviously, I want to meet this mother and intern by her. Or maybe I just secretly hate her. Enough said.
Husband in the other side of the world. Kids are being, well… kids. I’m exhausted. And, I really should be cooking for the Purim seuda. Did I mention we had about eight guests coming Purim afternoon?
Are you starting to feel for me? Good, because at this point, I discovered that my wonderful home printer cannot print on the Avery labels, which I dutifully had ordered on time to fit the Waldo themed mishloath manot baggies. Now, my lovely kids started getting a bit more critical. (Or maybe I’m imagining it?)
I put on my nonchalant mask again and told them, “Oh it’s no big deal because I can print the labels, on regular paper and go tomorrow to Fedex and cut them to size in their paper cutter. They are lovely at Fedex. I’m sure they’ll let me.”
“How will we stick them on?” my kids asked. “No big deal, we’ll just glue them!” I said, pretending to smile. (Meanwhile thinking: “Simplicity just went out the window. But, all is good in the world. There’s a solution for everything…Just keep smiling… fake it till you make it…”)
Mh… the skeptics scrutinized me… remember they are 8, 10 and 12. I didn’t think they were buying this. Totally impractical on the day before Purim, but come on, I gave myself an A+ for coming up for creative solutions to our “problems.” Well, apparently that would only be the beginning…
I opened the computer to finish said labels and decided to check on our package, which was to arrive in about fifteen minutes – kids lingering by my side. And this is what Amazon said:
We are sorry. Your package is expected to arrive between February 28 and March 1. We apologize for the inconvenience.
What!? But an hour ago it said it was coming at 8:00 pm! And Purim is on February 27! Amazon… Purim is on February 27!
Amazon, have you no compassion for mothers!?
Oy the disappointment! And the, “I told you!”
If you think hearing “I told you so,” is bad… hearing it from your children is 100 times worse!
Lets just say the kids were not happy with their mother, for it seemed to them that had I been more “organized” we wouldn’t be in this predicament. I had to shove my guilt way inside, put up my nonchalant, calm, yet empathetic AND resourceful mother facade PRONTO!
(Oh trust me, all I really wanted to do is yell at those kids to get in bed, and hide in my room. “It’s just a costume! Please, people in the grand scheme of things it’s not that important. Now. Get. In. Bed.”)
But, I guess I’ve interviewed enough Parenting experts in my podcast, plus read every book on the subject, that finally things are starting to synch and I went against my nature, and stayed cool. I knew that the only way to calm everyone’s nerves and mine was to keep talking calmly and softly, so I mustered every ounce of energy left in me and calmly and gently I spoke. (Don’t attack when they attack, Yael. Do. Not… Breathe and speak SOOOOFTLY…)
And so I kept repeating like a broken record. “I know you’re disappointed. I know. This is a real bummer.” Then, I told them how it all would be great because within minutes on What’s App I had found a friend who would lend us a beanie and I could DIY one beanie tomorrow. I would also take care of the labels. “Really, tomorrow during school hours, I can solve it…”
Hmmm… they were as suspicious as I was, I think, but somehow my calm voice (highs cool drama and college acting classes did come in handy) and my confidence on my “semi-solid” plan, managed to ease the tension.
One of my kids went to bed. The other two showed up in the kitchen, and as I finally started to clean from dinner, they made a list of everything I needed to get done in the morning. It was like a strategy meeting and a very civilized one too! I would say out loud what I needed to get done and they would write. Then they organized the errands by route and put a time schedule next to each task. (I told you they are organized. I wonder who they got it from?)
I had many stops: Fedex to finish the labels. Walmart and the kosher store to get a few things that we still needed for the Purim Seuda. Target to find a white beanie. Hobby Lobby to get red felt to DIY the red pom pom and fringe for the beanie. And I can’t even remember what else…
At this point I was actually quite confident that it would all work out, and I was quite proud that we all kept our cool despite the fact that we at some point were at the edge of an explosion of typhoon proportions.
It was now 9 pm. The kitchen was clean, my list and schedule were written down. I made myself a tea and sat down to finish those labels so they’d be ready for me to cut at Fedex the next morning.
I opened the computer and the Amazon page that we had closed an hour earlier, was still there. So I looked again.
And it now said, “Delivered in front porch.”
What!? My daughter ran to the front door and lo and behold there were two amazon packages waiting for us.
The kids screamed “this is a miracle!” And we ran to show my other daughter who was half asleep. She smiled, turned over and kept sleeping as the three of us went back to the kitchen to chat about and celebrate the small miracle that had just happened.
We recognized the fact that H” repaid us because we controlled our reactions and dealt with this “problem” in a rational way, without putting each other down, getting distressed or mean towards each other (although I know my kids really just wanted to yell and hey, I just would have probably yelled back, and a typhoon would have ensued).
The message was so obvious to us.
It almost felt like a test. Can you keep perspective and know that all is #hashgachapratit and H” runs the world, or are you going to all get into a blaming fit and toxic fight over this? Do you trust?
And we had passed the test!
The items were not coming.
Amazon clearly had told us.
And then a war was about to explode. But, we managed to contain said war and diffuse the tension.
And just like that, everything turned over! Just like in the Purim story, we experienced our own “Na’hafochu” (“turning over”).
And isn’t this exactly what the Megillah is trying to teach us? Hashem runs the world. We have to do our part and trust that he is behind the scenes making sure it’s all good. Things are not exactly how they look. There is a spiritual dynamic going on behind the scenes. Trust in it and you will actually see it with your own very eyes!
Right away I went to share with my husband who was in transit in Dubai. (Hey, I don’t just complain to him. I do share the good stuff as well. Give me some credit here!)
And he pulled out all his previous texts from a week prior (for he had indeed been right, and as he predicted, I am here writing an “inspiring blog about it”):
Now, what’s your small miracle? Share it in the comments section. :-)