By David Mandel
Purim can be a difficult day for childless couples. In fact, it is truly painful. Mothers are helping their sons into Spider-Man costumes or putting makeup on their little Queen Esthers. Fathers are busy driving their sons and daughters around the neighborhood delivering mishloach manos to their friends. And parents of teenagers hope they don’t drink too much at the Purim seudah. What should a childless couple be busy with?
One in seven couples understands what you’re feeling. Everyone else may try to sympathize or empathize with you, but there’s no way they can fully comprehend what you’re going through on this day seemingly made especially for children.
In shul, at the reading of the Megillah, you’re sitting with a room full of people but you feel completely alone. (You experience a similar feeling on Simchas Torah, the other special child-focused festive day in our calendar. And for that matter we understand why you’ve come to despise going to a shalom zachor, a b’ris, yet another wedding. And why the night of going to the mikveh can be such a difficult time for both of you.)
You really don’t feel like going to the Purim seudah at your in-laws where your siblings will be with their kids. Surely it will be a delicious meal, your beautiful nieces and nephews whom you love will all be running around dressed in their costumes, and the table conversation will be relaxed and enjoyable. You love them all, but you’re just not up for all this.
That’s OK. You don’t want to answer the door to greet the revelers collecting tzedakah for this yeshiva or that organization. That’s also OK; we totally get it.
You may not even want to stay home, and instead take a quick trip out of town to run away and not have to deal with all this. That may not be such a bad idea if the place you’re going to will bring you good memories or you’ll have an enjoyable Purim.
What should you do on Purim? The answer is, whatever you two want to do. You should both discuss your options, the invitations you have, or the people you want to invite over to your home. Consider which shul you want to go to and whom you want to deliver mishloach manos to. You don’t have to place additional pressure on yourself to go to places where you’ll be uncomfortable or unhappy.
You can choose to explain to your parents and siblings that you’re just not up to joining them for the seudah and they should please understand and respect you.
Plan a nice day together. Go for a walk in the park, take a drive, or buy each other small gifts for mishloach manos. Spend time with people whose company you enjoy.
Was there a Purim that you both really enjoyed? What did you do? Do it again. Don’t make it harder on yourself.
Only stay home alone, close the door, and ignore the bell if that’s an active decision you make. We understand Purim will be a hard day, but let’s figure out how to make it less awkward and even a bit enjoyable.
A quiet seudah for two at home can be very enjoyable.
A word to family, friends, and shulmates: Think of a most stressful moment you’ve had at home, in your business, anywhere. Picture it and multiply it by a factor of N. This is what Purim may be like for a childless couple. We needn’t pity them nor be unnecessarily solicitous. Treat the couple normally and permit them space if on this day they shy away a bit. A Purim sameach is not equally sameach for all.
We hope everyone can have a truly freilich Purim however they choose to celebrate. v
David Mandel is the CEO of Ohel.