a Baltimore Balabusta

Shabbat went out unheralded, as I was too distracted by the effort of remaining sane to bother with Havdalah. My husband is in Baltimore for a bar mitzvah. Given the recent Economic Downturn, only one of us could go. The report is that I missed a sweet, warm, musical service in a thriving shul (with lots of Professional Staff–what a concept), and that the mother of the bar mitzvah is most emphatically a Baltimore Balabusta. Get this: the lovely artwork for the invitations, reply cards, envelopes, place cards, chocolate wrappers, and laminated take-home gifts was all original. As in, by her. And get this, the laminated take-home gifts were bookmarks, upon the back of which were poems picked precisely for the person at that seat. Thus, my husband got Rilke, and my mother-in-law got Marge Piercy. Presumably, the other 248 people got individually-selected verses on the backs of their bookmarks, too. I am stunned. I don’t even know 250 poems. I don’t even know 250 people. How I wish I could have been there to revel in each instance of her staggering attention to detail. Alas, my husband’s particular genius doesn’t extend to the noticing of visual details, unless they happen to be related to rocks or Renaissance drawings. I am left to only imagine the exquisite touches she surely lent to every stage of the proceedings.

This is a friend who shlepped all the way to Nashville for our own baby-naming ceremony last year and our own bat mitzvah this year, bearing gifts and cheer and inexhaustible assistance with the sort of detail no one else can even see, much less create. When I needed help decorating the bat mitzvah party place, she knew without asking how the candles should sit just so, how the chairs should be staggered, how the tables should be placed for optimum shmoozing and dancing. We were made for each other, as our obsessiveness over such things knows no bounds.

I, however, tend to let party-planning overshadow the reason for the party itself, and in a nanosecond I will plan myself into an absolute frenzy. What makes it worse is that I do it all on a tight budget, meaning creativity and ingenuity must make up for cash flow. Using stuff I already have or can get for free sounds great, but I can make myself sick, literally, by my single-minded zeal. Better to aim far lower and be happy at my own party. I’m working on it.

Oy, have I got stories to tell about throwing a bat mitzvah weekend. I wish there was a What You Really Need to Know About Throwing a Bat Mitzvah Weekend But No One Will Ever Tell You website, and I’d upload a thing or two.
Next time.

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