Thursday, March 23, 2023

I opted not to go to the Baha Mar, thinking the weather would be too iffy. I considered the kosher food option on the Oasis of the Seas, considered the kosher options in Cancun … and then there was Panama, everyone’s newest dream. It took me no time to make the decision that my preference is Nouveau Pont, which for those who do not speak French, means New Bridge (Road). Yes, I stayed home. I did not have to pack one thing. I did not have to worry about who would take in my newspaper, I could not have cared less if flights were delayed or canceled … and I saved a ton of money.

For those of us who are left behind in the empty streets of Teaneck, Bergenfield and New Milford, I sincerely hope that you are proud of your decisions and not feeling envious of those who went away. I did hear one woman speaking with another, explaining why it was necessary to take the children away. It was because her children would have no one to play with if she stayed home. Would it not be a good time for parent and child to spend extra time bonding together?

What really disturbs me the most is thinking about the families who feel pressured to go away and not disappoint their children, despite the fact that it puts tremendous pressure on them financially.

Is everyone in these communities able to afford the astronomical prices of these family jaunts?

It cannot be. Is it not possible for a parent to sit down with a child or children and explain that “we are not able to afford some of the things that your friends and their families do”? Why should we have to be apologetic? There has to be a better way. I sincerely hope that the families who are on cruises, safaris and drinking the best coffee ever in Costa Rica do not have the audacity to ask for tuition assistance from the various school financial offices.

I am not sure where to go with this train of thought because I think it segues into so many different facets of life. I remember my father using the term “gilded ghetto” when referring to certain friends who chose to live quite opulently. He always encouraged us to never allow that to happen to our family.

Bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah children (which is what they are) are attending parties that in some cases would be more appropriate for a wedding. Their young minds are watching their peers shop for clothing that in some cases is more expensive than many adults can afford to buy. The notion that one needs to have motivators at each simcha in order to get the baal simcha to dance with his or her friends strikes me as being totally ridiculous. There was a time when people figured out what to do without it. Of course, there was also a time when one did not make lavish extravaganzas for these occasions.

When I tell people that we had 120 people maximum at our wedding, I receive strange stares.

Even then, I believe that we did not know everyone in attendance. All that we cared about was having our friends present. What young bride today knows the men who sit within eight rows all around her father in shul? Has she ever met the bookkeeper in her mother’s office? Then again, we forget who the simcha is all about. I thought it involved the nearest and dearest. I get it.

Peer pressure is very strong, and I feel passionately for the families who are not able to afford the level of affluence that seems to run rampant in many communities that our paper serves. I wish that there was an easy answer. What I would hope is that there is a sensitivity amongst us to realize that not everyone is financially on the same level. Keep conversations in shul about where your family is off to with friends who you know are traveling as well. Adults are as sensitive as children, especially when they are meant to feel inwardly that they are not providing for their families in the same manner as others are.

Finances have nothing to do with love and devotion. Spending two hours building something out of Lego, sitting on the floor and doing puzzles, arranging a scavenger hunt around the house is much more difficult and much more love-infused than going off on an all-inclusive vacation or sending children off to “day camp.”

I hope that everyone who has gone away is loving their decision, and those who are home are proud of who they are and what they have chosen.

Nina Glick can be reached at [email protected]

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