This year I had a better than average Purim holiday celebration. It certainly helped that Purim fell on a weekend; it always makes for a more languid, cheerful festival. My daughters were more willing to go to shul and not gripe about having homework assignments to finish. In fact, my younger daughter donned a comical one-piece bear costume at shul, brought by one of her friends. He and another teen then pushed my daughter around in a wheeled desk chair, after the megillah reading, as if she were in a movable throne.

And for the first time I held a Purim Pancake Party, as my holiday seudah (meal). I decided about a week prior to Purim that I wanted to do this, and I invited over some friends. Disclosure: I love to make pancakes. In fact, I think I enjoy making pancakes more than eating them (although I am a fan of my pancakes). I like to mix in chocolate or butterscotch chips, banana and strawberry slices, nuts and other treats.

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Usually I say that the one thing I dislike about Purim is that you immediately start to think "Passover Prep" after Purim. Yup, still thought of it. But this year there was an additional ominous omen on the horizon, at least in New York City, and other Atlantic and New England states: the thought of an approaching winter storm.

Everyone was talking about it: would we have another "Snowpocalypse" coming to our homes and streets?

There was so much concern about the storm that the mayor of NYC, Bill DiBlasio, cancelled public schools for Tuesday, March 14. (Pi Day, for you math fans.) Of course the vast majority of private and parochial schools followed suit. Schools in the nearby suburbs and New Jersey were also cancelled that day. People flocked to their local supermarkets to stock up on food (we needed butter and cereal, in particular). Like many other people, I made sure to take out the shovels and ice picks from the garage. And then we all waited.

Everyone in my household awoke later than usual that Tuesday, because most of the subway train lines were also closed down. This made it nearly impossible for my husband to head to work, so he stayed home too. I woke up around 9 AM and puttered around, doing household chores and such.

Later I went outside to shovel the sidewalk. The snow was heavy: moister than our last snow and already icing up. It was not the fluffier variety that fell over a month earlier.

When I began shoveling I noticed only one other neighbor doing so as well: L, a woman who lives directly across the street from us. L was widowed several months ago. I will state quite frankly that my family and L's husband did not like each other. One time he nearly hit me with his car and was not apologetic (L was; she wrote me a card to say she was sorry). L's husband used to oversee the smoggiest Pesach chometz burning operation, which made me cough. And L's husband had this peculiar and annoying habit (to us) of staring at us. It was discomforting. My husband had a few shouting matches with L's husband over the years.

But I saw L shoveling snow, working at it with vigor, and I called over to her "Having fun, huh?" She shrugged and smiled. And that broke the ice, literally and figuratively. We chatted casually about the weather and a few other topics. I offered her my wider shovel and she said thanks, she didn't need it now.

So I would say that this was one positive of the snow storm: I got to chat with a neighbor we had shrugged off for years.



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