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Mitzvah Diaries: On A Wing And A Prayer

By Stephanie Kepke Kaplan, Boys, Dogs And Chaos

With less than three months (two months and three weeks to be exact) to go before my son, D’s, Bar Mitzvah and too many things left to check off of my to-do list, I am feeling the crunch of a looming deadline. As a freelance writer, I have always performed much better with a deadline nipping at my heels and perhaps waiting for the last minute to accomplish much of my planning is just my way of taking advantage of this tendency – a deadline makes me sharper, more focused and better able to complete the task at hand in an efficient manner.

As of two weeks ago, the only items checked off of that to-do list were: “Location” and “DJ.” Since then, I have chosen, ordered and even picked up my invitations (from Party City); hired a company to provide photo favors and bought a dress (which, honestly I’m not sure I’m keeping, but it was an insanely good deal, so I couldn’t pass it up). So, that looming “deadline” a mere three months away was a good kick in the pants to get my planning up and running.

But, the adrenaline rush that “crunch time” brings isn’t the only reason for my astounding procrastination – life had simply gotten in the way of planning. My husband and I booked a caterer and a DJ with a comfy cushion of one year ahead of us. I launched a blog, Mitzvah Mom, and quickly churned out my first post about planning on a budget. And then, well things kind of slowed. My father suffered a stroke right before we started planning and passed away just over three months ago after being in and out of the hospital for the previous two months. My dog’s serious illness necessitated numerous vet visits, often weekly. And then, there are the smaller assaults on one’s schedule – countless homework projects, doctors appointments and sporting events that chewed up our time.

Of course everyone faces the latter three obstacles and most manage to navigate their way around them, securing photographers, videographers, favors, etc. and I’m sure I would have, as well – it was my father’s death that threw the planning for a loop. Who really feels like planning a simcha, while mourning a loss? (More on dealing with that in a future blog post…) My niece’s Bat Mitzvah was just four weeks after he passed away – and as wonderful as it was, it showed us exactly how hard it will be celebrating D’s Bar Mitzvah without my father there.  So, I put it off. But, with the clock ticking down, I can’t put it off anymore. Even if I wanted to, my mother calls me every day to ask if I’ve finished my guest list or called the photographer or decided on centerpieces.

I will be sharing my experiences with you as I scramble to plan a Bar Mitzvah that D will remember forever, but that won’t break our budget. A Bar Mitzvah that will be meaningful and fun. A Bar Mitzvah that will honor the memories of those who are only there with us in spirit. In other words, I want it to be just perfect. I have given up on some things – I planned on making my own invites, but simply ran out of time. But, I won’t compromise on making it special and affordable (ok, somewhat affordable – the phrase affordable Bar Mitzvah is an oxymoron I’m learning). I promise to share with you the “trials and tribulations” of getting to that almost perfect day (I need to be realistic, of course nothing’s perfect).

My first task as your new guest blogger was to come up with a name – a name that captures the essence and spirit of my planning experience. One title kept popping up in my brain, “On a Wing and a Prayer.” I looked up the origin of the phrase and found that it means, “In poor condition, but just managing to get the job done.” Well, that seemed to sum up my planning experience in a nut shell. I may be beaten up, but I will get the job done, even if I’m up until 3:00 am the night before the shindig stuffing favors in bags and rearranging seating charts. I hope I won’t be, but if I am, you can be sure I’ll share it with you, so perhaps you can learn from whatever mistakes I may have made to lead me to that bleary eyed state.

Please, feel free to share your own ideas or to ask any questions about “speed planning.” And remember, relax and enjoy this time – no matter how many items are left unchecked on your to-do list.

You can reach Stephanie at info@MitzvahMarket.com.

A reader responds to the first post:
“Dear Stephanie, Just read your new Blog at Mitzvah Market!!!! I loved it… I laughed and smiled throughout … and cried too about the parts about your Dad. (may he rest in peace) It was very touching. Stephanie, I truly enjoy the way you write, what a gift you have. Thank you for sharing your experiences, I have learned a great deal already! Good luck with your new blog and with all the plans your making for D’s big day, I am happy for you… It will be a wonderful day, please God. Enjoy this special time in your life! Love Always, Julie Ann Golombek”

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About Stephanie Kepke Kaplan
Stephanie Kepke Kaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. Before kids she was an arts reporter, covering the Boston music and cultural scene (even though she is a born and bred Long Islander, she lived in Boston for nine years and her first son was born there). Now, she blogs at Boys, Dogs and Chaos (about life with – you guessed it – three boys and two dogs) and Mitzvah Mom. She is also working on a novel about a PTA mom. She has also written for Long Island Parent magazine.


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