Growing up, my mother was always very clear with my siblings and me that we should not waste money. It makes sense, then, she did not like to shower us with material goods. Each year on Purim, she made it clear that we could dress up as whatever we wanted, so long as the costume was homemade.
I will never forget the costume I wore when I was in third grade. I told my mother I wanted a very special costume that year, and she suggested that I make one myself. I agreed, quite excited at the prospect, and my mother offered to take me to the local art store so I could pick out materials.
My mother is a teacher and tries to make everything into a learning experience, so the whole process of making our own costumes was a learning process, from start to finish. First, she asked me if I would like invite two friends to join in our project. My mother taught me how to look up Melissa’s and Shira’s numbers in a phone book and suggested that I invite them over for an initial meeting to start planning.
When my friends joined us, my mother taught us how to make a web for brainstorming ideas. After about an hour, we decided that we would each start with a large white sheet, cutting out a hole for our heads. Next, we decided we would need a rope to make a belt. The next week my mother drove us all to Ace Handicraft, the local art store, where she told us we could pick out whatever we wanted, so long as it cost less than $15. She handed us a calculator so we could keep track of the prices as we shopped and while I didn’t think much of her method at the time, looking back I realize that my mother was giving us lessons in planning, budgeting, math, and teamwork.
After we chose our supplies, it was time to get to work. As we lay all the sheets on the floor in my basement to start decorating them, we decided we needed a name for the costume. We called ourselves the “Bloops.”
Melissa, Shira, and I were so excited to dress up as Bloops for Purim that we coordinated our arrivals at school so we could walk inside together. Most of the other kids were wearing store-bought costumes, and a few wore elaborate homemade costumes clearly made by their parents. One girl was dressed up as a laundry machine, complete with old detergent bottles hanging from her waist!
I’ll admit that the reaction by our classmates was somewhat disappointing. Most of our friends tried to figure out what a Bloop was. The most popular boy in the class started making fun of us, and slowly, others joined in. As my excitement about our costume waned, my face began to turn red with embarrassment and I wanted to go to the bathroom to cry. I was sure Shira and Melissa would never talk to me again.
Just at the moment that I was ready to rip off my costume, our teacher, Miss Denemark, went to the front of the classroom. Having caught on to what was happening, she banged on the table to get our attention and began talking about all the costumes. She said Josh looked like the most real lion she had ever seen, and that Lauren’s costume made her smile. She kept talking, and when she got to us Bloops, I shook with fear about what she would say. Though Miss Denemark was very sweet, I didn’t think she could make the other kids like our costume – but she did. When our turn came, she said, "And now, for the costume that lit up my week and will bring joy to my Purim: the Bloops!”
Miss Denemark told the class that in all her years of teaching (looking back, she was very young and had probably only been teaching for about three years), she had never seen a costume so creative. She told us that the children were also saved in the miracle of Purim, so it was appropriate that children should be involved in preparing for the holiday, too. As Miss Denemark said she was proud that the three of us for working together, I saw that the other kids in the class slowly started realizing that they had been wrong.
Suddenly the whole class began clapping for us – and all at once, I knew that this would be a happy Purim, after all.