We were invited to Yaffi’s house for Purim – all 5 of us. And we went. All 5 of us.

This might not sound unusual for most families, but for us it was a rare occurrence (being invited for Purim was a first for us too, but that’s another story). And the stress leading up to the dinner was not insignificant.

Although a bit shy at first, Jamie and Sierra were great. I was not worried about how they would act, I knew they would love being around so many princesses. All it took were a pair of gigantic lollipops and lots of girls, their age and older, in beautiful dresses and they were having a ball. They were too busy to sit at the table and eat dinner because there were so many girls to play with.

Jacob, on the other hand, was a different story. His behavior in unfamiliar surroundings can be cause for concern, to put it mildly. In fact, if there are a lot of strangers and noise, Jacob’s behavior is quite predictable – he screams. He screams and screams until his hair is soaking wet, his face is red and everyone is extremely uncomfortable listening to his heartbreaking cries. Then we go home and those who stay behind breathe a sigh of relief at the welcome silence and feel sad that Jacob did not enjoy the event.

When Yaffi invited us to her house to join her family for Purim dinner, I accepted. It never occurred to me to leave Jacob at home, but I did wonder how I could best prepare him for the anxiety that usually accompanies him to parties.

I told Jacob about Yaffi’s invitation and asked him if he wanted to go. He said yes. I decided to bring Leazel, one of Jacob’s nurses, along in case he needed to go into a quiet room away from the commotion or if he wanted to go home early.

As we were getting everyone loaded into the car, he started crying. Within seconds Jacob’s cries escalated into full blown wet-hair-red-face screams. But we carried on. He screamed the entire drive to her house. We stood outside her house for a full ten minutes waiting for Jake to calm down before descending on Yaffi and her family, even though we were already late.

Standing outside the door, waiting for it to open, I silently hoped the evening would go ok, and that Jacob would stop crying.

Yaffi opened the door, saw and heard Jacob, bent down and spoke to him the way she usually does – as a typical 7 year old. And he stopped screaming.

I don’t know exactly what happened next, but while everyone was sitting at the table, Jacob was there too, at end with all the kids. Partway through the meal, with the girls playing with their new friends and the adults still enjoying the incredible and countless dishes placed along the large table, I noticed Jacob sitting next to Yaffi at the table with us. He was happy, as evidenced by the enormous grin on his face. At one point he was playing with the balloon he was holding, laughing every time it escaped his grip and floated to the ceiling. He actually joined us at the table. And he was having fun, even when the conversation wasn’t directed at him. He was watching us, listening to the conversations and really enjoying being part of the festivities.

Every time I looked over at him and saw him sitting across the table from me, I felt so proud of him. I don’t know what Yaffi said to him, or what it took to get him comfortable, but this was the first time he spent an extended period of time at the table with anyone. And he was surrounded by people he had never met before.

Later that night, when Jake was in his pajamas and ready for bed, I asked him if he had fun and he nodded his head yes. I told him how proud I was of him and that I was so happy we were able to have this wonderful experience together.

Purim is my new favorite holiday.