Ihad lived in out-of-town communities for many years and had just recently joined the “in-town” civilization when one night my sister casually asked me if I had already bought my children new clothing for Yom Tov. Now, I have been known to be a kind of last-minute person, but I was sure she had lost her mind. It was at least a month before Rosh Hashanah. The weather was still hovering in the nineties, and fall clothing was the last thing on my mind. When I told her so, she gave me a rather lengthy speech about how I don’t understand how things work here. If I didn’t go shopping yesterday there would be nothing to buy, let alone matching outfits in the right sizes for my kids. While I was still sure she was nuts, as the younger sister I thought she might have some knowledge I did not yet possess, so I decided to venture out on my own. Much to my dismay, she was right. In the middle of the summer the store shelves were filled with fall and winter clothing! Not only that, but the stores were filled with people who had come to buy it. And I was shocked to see that many sizes were already gone. I was enlightened again about a half-year later, when we decided we wanted to send our four-year-old son to a Yiddish-speaking playgroup.
Apparently, not only do you have to choose a mohel the day your son is born, you also have to register him in a playgroup! This, of course, was news to me.Fast-forward a year and a half. I had been living in-town for some time now and you would have thought that by then nothing could shock me. There I was, all excited. My house was finally just about clean for Pesach—our very first Pesach made “intown.” We no longer had to drive far to get the basics, and I was feeling pretty calm and on top of things. We had a few bags of never-to-be-eaten chametz I had been saving for a fun trip to the lake with the kids to feed the ducks. As we drove along, I happily pictured the grateful ducks quacking as I watched my kids screaming with glee as the ducks hungrily ate the bread. When we arrived at the lake we all piled out of the car—which is when I got what I have begun to call my “in-town” shock. There were pieces of bread spread all over the grass and in the water, and the ducks looked so full they could barely move! Apparently, I had missed the boat again. Unfortunately, the “in-town” handbook never mentioned that if you want your children to scream with glee as they feed the hungry ducks you have to come Purim time, not Erev Pesach. Silly me!