March 7, 2012
Beaming, our 3-year-old son marched in our temple Purim parade last year in his homemade Halloween costume – a cow. This year, I could have once again grabbed his latest Halloween garb, a store bought Superman costume. But a 20th century super hero and Purim seemed like a dissonant combination.
So my son, now 4, and I talked about it. What could he dress as for Purim? It was a quick decision. We talked about and settled on King Ahaseuras, a name I butchered as my husband tried to correct me not just once, but twice or was it three times? All right, let’s just call him King A.
“Was he a good king?” Simon asked.
“I think so,” I said, guessing.
Esther = good. Haman = evil. Queen Vashti = a little good, a little malevolent. King A, well, I was not so sure. From a 21st century standpoint, he comes off as sexist and clueless. He did, after all, banish Vashti for refusing to dance before him. But after hearing the plea of his new queen, Esther, he ultimately agreed to let the Jews live rather than agree to Haman’s plot to kill us off. For his time, maybe King A wasn’t so bad for a monarch. Practically speaking, it’s easier to throw a king costume together than one for Haman, who wears a three-cornered hat.
We had a great ingredient at home – a Buzz Lightyear bathrobe a cousin passed along for Simon to wear when he was 8 or 9. Simon put it on, and I tied it tightly so he would not trip.
“King Ahaseuras,” he said, pronouncing the name better than I ever will.
Hmm, could a robe emblazoned with a Toy Story character work for a king from the ancient Persian Empire? As a young adult, I performed in a Purim spiel and portrayed Queen Esther as if she were modeled after Princess Leia in Star Wars. King A in a Buzz Lightyear robe? Why not? But our budding King A needed to accessorize.
At a local craft store, Simon and I picked out a blue foam crown and jewel foam stickers. I planned to make him a scepter out of a paper towel roll and tinfoil, per a friend’s suggestion, but, a baton was on sale for a $1 in a bin. It had a blue ball on each end. Simon immediately picked it up and declared in the store, “A la peanut butter sandwiches.” Ok, he was mixing Sesame Street with Purim now, but this baton/wand had this majestic feel. “A la ….scepter!” At a fabric store, I bought a swath of shiny gold fabric. Costume cost: $7 to $8. The experience: Priceless.
At home, Simon stuck jewels on his crown. I used safety pins to attach the gold material to the robe. A few days ago, he modeled his kingly costume for me and his father. He turned this way and that. He smiled. He grimaced. He giggled. He tried to look like a king. Somehow, he did.
Our temple Purim carnival and parade is tomorrow, and Simon’s excitement has been steadily building. Together, our family turned Purim into a holiday to anticipate. Just a few months ago, I wrote a Boston Globe piece about my son’s longing to have “Happy Christmas” at our house. I don’t know if this Purim memory will linger long enough to make a difference when next December rolls around. But for now, we have found a simple way to show our child one of the joys of being Jewish.