Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Big Day for Small Girls

Today our family attended our first-ever Bat Mitzvah for a lovely, lovely neighbor girl. Oooh man, was that some kind of experience.
The service at the synagogue was over 2 hours long. Fortunately for me, I found it very very interesting from a family and cultural perspective. The Bar/Bat Mitzvahs (there was a second child being honored in today's shabat service) each were required to participate in the services to a surprising and very impressive extent. There were readings of the Torah in Hebrew, chanting, prayers and sermon-like discussions of the applicability of their particular scripture (assigned to them) to their lives. They led call-response singing... I was so impressed by the tradition of inclusion of congregants in the delivery of services, and very proud of our neighbor who has really begun to blossom into a lovely young adult. Shabat Shalom.

I also really enjoyed dressing my little girls up in spring outfits and welcoming the sun and warmer weather back to our region. Is it finally Spring? It might be... All three girls, and even Rob, behaved extremely well through the long services. Lindsay actually fell asleep about half way through in my arms. She's a bit big for that but it was a delightful snuggle for me. The adorable thing snored. Loud. I tried to jiggle her, reorient her head, etc but finally gave up. As far as I could tell, the people around us found it very charming and perhaps were whistful that they were not similarly engaged...

On to the party. I do recall that about 15 months ago her mother told me she was going to refrain from planning a high-pressure, huge-profile event that are fairly common here and do something much more modest, in keeping with the Bat Mitzvah's preferences and personality.
All of the children were transported by bus from the Temple to the hotel where the luau was being held. Not that it was really required; it was just more fun for them. I took Rob home as he is quite ill and the service really killed him. When I arrived, I was really quite overwhelmed by the setting. The event was held in a mid-sized hotel ballroom. The ante-room included a bar (mai tai's, beer, wine), circulated appetizers (crab cakes/remoulade sauce; chicken satay, etc). Each guest was presented with a few favors: commemorative palm-tree themed goblets, leis, footies (in the event you'd like to remove your shoes; I did!) and sunglasses. I was completely unprepared for what I was to find in the ball room.
"Palm" trees, tiki statues, water-fall like fountains. Disc jockey and "entertainer/MC", two large screens to project the action on dance floor and slide show of the guest of honor from birth to present... To the left was "the kids' area". There was a station for hair braiding/beading (and I didn't get to her soon enough for mine), another for air-brushed tattoos. "Build-your-own-sundae" station, warm appetizer selections for kids (fried mozzarella, chicken satay, pizza rolls, etc), a smoothie station. As the action rolled along there were additional favors: maracas, sunglasses, some point the appetizer selection was refreshed with new selections--- keep in mind, every bit of this was take all-you-want, keep coming back, etc. Their actual meal was a serve-yourself buffet of mac and cheese, chicken fingers, penne with marinara sauce, pizza, french fries. There was also a table with serve-yourself soft drinks and pitchers full of Shirley Temples with gobs of maraschino cherries!

After 30 minutes or so, there were some speeches, some blessings, some "first" dances. Here are the proud parents:

The BatMitzvah also shared a first dance with her Dad; I wish I had been able to get a photo. She wore a custom-made dress and a professional came in to do the familys' coiffures and cosmetics. She looked very beautiful. She has Albright's syndrome which confers certain uncommon physical features that are quite obvious and has singled her out for some bad treatment by her peers. I was very happy to see that she was looking so lovely and enjoying herself. It seemed, though, that they had extensions put in her hair.... the mother did tell me yesterday that in preparation for this event, she'd had collagen injections in her lips, botox around her eyes and a lot of non-invasive cosmetic work as well. I'm not sure that's part of the usual Jewish tradition.

At any rate, the adult guests were also treated quite well, also with open-bar, lovely meal, etc. I was seated with some neighbors I really enjoy. Their delightful paternal grandfather has been visiting from the UK so he was along as well. I find him really charming so it was a fine way to pass the time as the children were overindulged and then some.

As the party was winding down, the chocolate foutain station was opened. There was an arrangement of chocolate-dunkable treats fashioned into a palm tree. It was AMAZING and my camera battery died just before it was presented! Essentially, they'd used about 8 or 9 pineapples to form the body of the tree (somehow they managed to shape it very well; it had a very natural palm tree kind of curve...). Into the pineapple, they'd used long skewers to provide the bark texture of the tree with marshmallows, strawberries, bananas, bits of rice krispie treats (my favorite! I'd never thought of dunking them in chocolate), angel food cake.

Each child was handed a lovely personalized beach towel on the way out.

I really enjoyed seeing the girls have so much fun, having such excitement at hand, so much to choose from (or not!). I just can't imagine incurring that kind of expense for a single afternoon's celebration. I can't imagine the party cost any less than 25K.

Oh my.

Lindsay, with the delightful young girl who claimed her mother was not the woman I know as her father's wife, but Madonna. She was Lindsay's companion for most the day...

Status Report

Anna would like to make sure you all know that she really appreciates her clean room; finds it relaxing, quiet and attractive.

Addendum -- Shout Out

How do you guys like the spiffy new frames around all my photos? I've been wishing to figure out how to place them for the longest time but always forget to ask people who appear to know. I owe this little gem of html code to Drew and Jason who both responded to my request for help on J's blog last night. Thanks, guys!

1 comment:

Melissa said...

I am glad you all had such a good time at the Bat Mitzvah ysterday. I was reminded at dinner last night that we would be planning one for 2020! Hard to believe that... I can't see the event being quite like this one, but I guess we never know. It sounds like it was a beautiful and meaningful day for everyone!