My only regret about my daughter's Bat Mitzvah is that we never got around to taking any photos of it. If you know my husband, you'll understand how unexpected that is! And it's a shame, because my baby girl looked beautiful.
(Hell, even I looked good, as countless people told me - most with an element of surprise in their voices.)
After all the planning, second-guessing, worrying and nerves... it was perfect. A lovely, significant, happy event, thanks to the patient hand-holding by our wonderful rabbi and cantor, the caring temple Sisterhood ladies who handled all the catering -- and my wonderful, able, intelligent daughter.
Megan was poised and self-assured as she took her place on the bimah and helped conduct a Saturday service.
A lot of the decisions I made that were budget driven turned out to be serendipitous: I kept it simple by scheduling a morning service (a lunch reception is less expensive than dinner). I was careful with our guest list: none of MY friends were invited, other than those who were also parents of Megan's friends. (There were two exceptions: my generous and caring honorary sister, Maggie, who visited us in the hospital after Megan's birth and has been a part of her life ever since... and some close friends of my parents, who do not know Megan well but were around to push ME in MY baby carriage over 50 years ago).
The result was that every person in that room had a meaningful connection to Megan and our family. We weren't hurt by the decision NOT to hire a deejay or emcee to provide entertainment; everyone appeared to have a good time just TALKING.
We did stray from our no-frills policy in a couple of areas, beginning with the beautiful invitations.
My husband rented an expensive LCD projector so he could present a slideshow he'd spent MONTHS creating (he's always been a shutterbug and has only been digital for the last five years... so he had eight years of prints and negatives he was determined to scan). Because our event was so small (fewer than 70 individuals), nearly everyone got a shout-out.
Three weeks ago, I'd realized that I'd not made a provision for party favors. That's when my very creative friend Mary Ellen stepped in. "Let me do this," she begged. "I want to do this for Megan." Now, Mary Ellen is one of the people responsible for the gorgeous costumes you see on "Dancing with the Stars" and I'm not a fool -- OF COURSE I let her create some beautiful centerpieces that included pretty paper cones filled with personalized M&M's (appropriate, as those are Megan's initials). Let me tell you: custom-printed chocolate candy does not come cheap - but it was a nice touch, and I'm grateful to Mary Ellen for giving the room that final, festive touch.
Of course, we couldn't plan for all the turmoil going on in our lives this month, so we can't take credit for keeping things simple to allow us to deal with everything else. But that's how it turned out, and I'm so happy that the Bat Mitzvah was so EASY.
Even the family dinner on Saturday night turned out great: We hosted 20 members of our immediate and extended family at Gyu-Kaku in Woodland Hills. They gave us a private room and all we could eat,
and we had a wonderful evening.
But next time: I might hire a photographer.