Planning a bar mitzvah can be experience to remember


The other day Jack had the nerve to ask, “Mom, did you buy my Hanukkah presents yet?” I starred at him in disbelief. Doesn’t he realize that I just forked over $300 to get our dog’s teeth cleaned? Or what about the check I wrote last month for his basketball registration? He must think that money grows on trees, and those brand new black suede boots in my closet were free. After I regained my composure, I finally mustered an answer for the clueless son of mine. “Your Hanukkah present this year is your upcoming bar mitzvah. And, by the way, your Jewish coming-of-age celebration also counts as your birthday, high school graduation, and wedding present as well.”

Like most parents who are planning a bar/bat mitzvah for their teen, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with all the details and expenses, from the kiddish to the kippot. Of course, I want Jack’s bar mitzvah to be a special day for him, one that he will always remember. In fact, one of the most popular ways to memorialize the sacred event is through monogramming everything in sight, from the blue M &Ms to the customized candy bar wrappers.

It’s true. I’m caught up in the craziness to emboss my son’s name on as many items as possible, although I draw the line at rolls of personalized toilet paper. Considering the first thing Jack’s name appears on is the invitations, I had some tough decisions to make besides whether to go with lined envelopes or not. As we all know, stationery makes a statement and must reflect the theme (sports or casino), the tone (serious or fun), the season (winter or spring), the budget (expensive or cheap). So I thought hard about the color of his Hebrew and English names. I could opt for black, blue, red, neon, rainbow, or shimmering copper to match his hair. Plus, I can pick an endless variety of fonts in formal, casual scripts, block style, funky, engraved, caps, lower case, or all of the above. Also, I can design his name horizontal, vertical, circular, backwards, or let the calligrapher decide.

Not only that, I can display Jack’s name in bright lights like a Broadway star. Better yet, I can put his name on a grand entry banner that stretches across the auditorium, in case guests forget whose reception it is. Then, I can spell out J-A-C-K with either Mylar balloons or glittery Styrofoam cutouts or maybe both. Next, I can monogram his name on centerpieces, event programs, place cards, sign-in boards, candle lighting pieces, T-shirts, socks, napkins, picture frames, CD labels, fruit rollups (I swear), key rings, candy jars, back packs, ink pens, baseball cards, Hershey kisses, thank you notes, and God only knows what else.

Now that I think about it, maybe I’ll get Jack a personalized baseball leather yarmulke for Hanukkah. I can choose suede, satin, straw, silk, velvet, fabric, taffeta, or hand-knitted. Inside the skullcap I can print his name in silver, gold, brown, or black ink, or I can embroider his initials and add his picture for an extra fee. After all, it’s only money. And the name says it all.

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom. Email her at: [email protected] or visit her website at