My g/f's youngest was Bat Mitzvahed this weekend. She and my g/f have been working on the various aspects of this along with the father and me and planners, etc, etc, for months and months. It's finally over. This Thanksgiving we're not going anywhere. We're getting the turkey and trimmings from the supermarket, premade. We're too tired to do anything else.
There's an awful lot of work involved -- first, there's the theme. And the decorations. And the invitations. WHo sits at what table. The menu. The entertainment. Learning the torah portion trope. ANd on and on.
ANd then there's the custom of doing custom prayerbooks for the service. So my g/f and her daughter had to pick special readings and prayers. And since the theme was "A Secret Garden" we got a good passage from the book into the prayerbook for the amidah part, and my g/f found other good garden/growth/plant-related stuff to put in... she stuck in one of my poems I'd written her years ago, and I got to do a reading-- something by Chabad rabbi Tzvi Freeman I'm sure was a reworking of something "the rebbe" said--
There are people who do many good things, but with pessimism, because to them, the world is an inherently bad place. Since their good deeds have no life to them, who knows how long they can keep it up? We must know that this world is not a dark, sinister jungle, but a garden. And not just any garden, but G-d's own pleasure garden, full of beauty, wonderful fruits and fragrances, a place where G-d desires to be with all G-d's essence.
If the taste to us is bitter, it is only because we must first peel away the outer shell to find the fruit inside.
My daughter helped me memorize and work out the phrasing, so when I read it at the bimah, I was reciting it, rather than reading it. I did a pretty good job, making good eye contact with everyone. It's a perfect shul for that, being in the round, with the bimah at the center and the seating all around on three sides. After I did the reading, as I was going back to my seat, the cantor pulled me aside and said I missed my calling and I should have been a rabbi. (Based on how I read a mystical Chabad thing to the rationalist Reconstructionist congregation, mind you. ;-) ) My reaction was "Who says I can't still become a rabbi!?"
(Part of the reason I did so well getting into that reading was that I was listening a lot to Matisyahu's CD, which is just great, great stuff for getting you into the appropriate Chabad/chasid mindset. I was finally the imperfect prophet I've alwasys wanted to be.)
Anyway, so we had a nice service, and then the party to end all parties, with all sorts of wonderful music and food and dancing, and then the brunch on Sunday, and by then I was so damn exhausted and grumpy my daughter and I spent yesterday afternoon and evening lying around doing nothing at all. The bat mitzvah girl and her mom, meanwhile, were up till 1am opening presents and making up thankyou list stuff.
So it's odd. time passing, kids growing up. Getting older. My daughter will be 13 next year. Very odd.