If you are reading this, it means that I am still alive; that I have survived the bar mitzvah of my youngest child, my third son, my baby—though it could also mean that the warden at the institution allowed me to express my final ranting, ravings and incoherent ramblings before they hooked me up to the electroshock therapy machine. In any case, if you are still reading this, I am hoping that you are well, that all of your prayers for this year will be answered and that if you are making a simcha, it is everything that you want it to be.
Planning a bar mitzvah is a relatively easy task. There are so many options. For our eldest son we did a lovely Friday night dinner. It was parshat Noach so, of course, it rained. Keep in mind that I had tracked the five previous Noach weather patterns and they were all sunny and beautiful, but rain means mazel, which is what you say to the person making the simcha when it rains, and all was fine.) Middle son had an intimate dinner Friday night with family and very close friends (nine couples, once you go above ten everyone is insulted, so we kept it at nine) and then a big Kiddush after speeches. Since middle son felt he was not getting the same thing as elder son, I had to order ridiculously expensive sweatshirts to give to his friends (bad parenting, very bad). Oh, and it snowed. Snow means mazel too. Who knew?
And now we are at the youngest son’s bar mitzvah. Due to the Hebrew calendar, and trust me, I am not any sort of expert on this subject, all of this year’s Hebrew birthdays came out a month earlier than usual. So we, along with several other families, pushed their son’s bar mitzvahs ahead and chose different parshas. In my son’s case, it was a much shorter parsha. And we decided that having it the Monday of Labor Day, when he was actually born Labor Day weekend was a clever idea. (Yeah, right, us and about four other families. Fortunately, no major conflicts for any of us.)
In any event, you start talking about these bar mitzvahs for at least two years, if not more, and then you turn around and it is here. Soon you are ordering invitations, thinking about centerpieces, the caterer, the venue and the give aways—give aways? At my bat mitzvah everyone got one of those giant lollypops with a ribbon tied on it that said Banji’s Bat Mitzvah and the date—which was so long ago I cannot even recall. My venue was my basement and everyone had a wonderful time. The caterer my parents hired was so good, that he catered my wedding and all three of my bar mitzvahs. He is a part of the family. I have spoken to him more these past few months than I have to my husband…
And then came the clothes. I have to be honest, I cannot even imagine what it must be like to shop for three girls, because shopping for just me—and I clearly am not a girl—is like Chinese water torture. I am grateful to the stores that will show you a dress you like and make it your size without laughing at you. It is truly a wonderful thing.
Back to the issue at hand, my last bar mitzvah. One of my elder friends, who is also a mom of all boys, has already told me to really, really enjoy this one, because when he gets married, I will just be a piece of furniture. I hope I will, at least, be a comfortable piece of furniture, like a couch or a lazy boy and not a hard rigid chair. One can hope. But for now, I am going to enjoy these “men” who live in my house, who leave socks in places that are just totally inexplicable and who still let me wake them up in the morning.
By Banji Latkin Ganchrow