The Apricot Pit Game

Life in Israel truly cracks me up. There is such a dichotomy, at times, between the organization and the chaos. Israelis don’t always like order and routine. They don’t make their summer plans more than a month ahead of time, they call for Shabbat plans on Friday at 10am, and they think nothing of packing up and going camping without a map, a camp site or a flashlight. Gotta love them.

But, on the other hand…they take their birthday parties and other social events very seriously. We’ve been amazed at how organized Israeli birthdays are, with games and scavenger hunts taking up every second of the party. Our Israeli friends make adult parties in the same way – with a power point presentation which moves into a mixer which moves into a…you get the point. Israeli kids all know the same dances at bar mitzvahs, and the adults all know what they are doing at weddings.

So, today, Matan came home to announce that the game has begun. “The game?” I said to him, innocently enough. He tried not to roll his eyes at me as he explained that, yet again, the apricots are on the trees and this means that it’s time for the Apricot Pit Game at school. The first year that I taught at an Israeli school, I was amazed by the order and precision with which trends came and went. First, in the fall, the soccer cards came out. They stayed out for a very specific amount of time, and then vanished. In the winter, it was time for the cards from the chip bags. They were collected and distributed, argued over and enjoyed for a very specific amount of time as well, and then vanished. Finally, the Apricot Pit Game has appeared, and everyone knows that summer is on the way.

I can’t say that I know the origin of the Apricot Pit Game, nor do I actually know what it’s called! I do have some guesses, however, to how it started. Someone, at some point, realized that they didn’t have a lot of money in this country – but that they certainly did have apricot trees. They took a shoe box, made holes of various sizes, and challenged their friends to throw apricot pits through the holes. The larger holes were worth less pits, while the smaller, more challenging holes, would earn the thrower a larger number of pits. And, of course, he who has the most pits at the end – wins. And that’s the Apricot Pit Game.

Matan ran home from school yesterday, tore apart my closet looking for a shoe box, and spent an hour making his little game. He added trap doors to some of the slots and secret compartments to others. He designated how much each hole was worth and how much you would lose if you hit the wrong spot. And now? It’s time for a royal stomach ache as they run around the yishuv collecting apricots, eating them, and gathering up the pits.

I’ve got to hand it to them. It’s great to see kids playing a creative, free game that they’ve invented on their own. It’s just so weird to see it appear each year at exactly the same time, for exactly the same duration of time. Order and chaos as seen through Israeli kids and their games – gotta love it in this crazy Land of ours.

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