Whether or not you do Valentine’s Day at your house, there is a world of half-price Valentine candy in shops right now, and some of it can work just dandy for the next Jewish holiday, Purim. Kisses, especially. Because of the chocolate preferences of certain grandmothers in our family, our Purim Mishloach Manot baskets always include Hershey’s kisses. Valentine kisses are usually robed in red: simple, bright, fun red. Without the outer packaging, red kisses are deliciously generic and ready for conversion. And of course, they are kosher. (So are Tootsie Rolls, by the way, and I had no idea until a few weeks ago. Apparently they went kosher in 2007.)
Mishloach Manot baskets don’t have a lot of rules: they are just the “sending of gifts” or “portions” —plural—which entails the sending of more than one thing. (Some customs interpret the plural as meaning we must send stuff that requires two separate food blessings.) Homemade hamantaschen should be one of those things. Oh, and one nice advantage over May Day baskets is that the sending of Purim goodies is not anonymous: receivers are supposed to know the senders.
In Nashville, we aren’t exactly overrun with Mishloach Manot deliveries, and we don’t come remotely close to having to deal with any keeping-up-with-the-Steinhardts-kind-of-competitiveness. My synagogue’s Sisterhood does a handy fundraiser, and a few of the Sunday School kids make something, but that’s it. So when it is Mishloach Manot time, my family can keep it simple, keep it fairly eco-conscious and have fun.
To be truly green-spirited and thereby add a few mitzvot to this mitzvah (some of my favorites, like not destroying needlessly, not oppressing the worker, being good to our bodies and so on), we’d need to stick with healthy treats and fair trade products, and our materials would be recycled or repurposed. Some of this we do, but the Hershey kisses are not negotiable. While we are still lucky enough to have a Bubbe and a Grandma who expect kisses, we send kisses.
What do we send them in? Usually the kid-constructed classics: decorated paper plates folded like hamantaschen, or triangular bags cut and stapled from leftover paper.
Bag decorations: I don’t have a local source for Jewish stickers and rubber stamps, so I order stuff from classroom suppliers Benny’s Educational Toys, here. (They have a minimum order, so I buy for more than one holiday at a time. I have an inordinate fondness for Jewish stickers.)
Purim isn’t until March 19-20 this year (2011), but candy has a disturbingly long shelf-life.
Off I go to the store.