A few weeks ago I was at a bris.
Big news, right? I tend not to go to many of these things because 1, it involves me leaving my house and 2, if I leave my house, it involves me having to smile at people, which I normally don’t have a problem with, unless I really don’t like you, and then I just pretend not to see you. A useful trick I have learned from living in this community, unfortunately. ANYWAY, I went to this bris because I really, really like the family. Really and truly. And, let’s be honest, I was in the mood for a good bagel and lox.
So the ceremony is done and the cute little guy has screamed his adorable head off and downstairs we go for the after party. You would think they would start serving mimosas after what the family has just gone through, but I have yet to be at a bris like that. But I digress. I am sitting at the table with my friend’s daughter, who normally might think I am a well-adjusted human being (who am I kidding…I am nuts, but a good kind. Not the kind that everyone seems to be allergic to these days and needs to carry an epi-pen for. Though, thinking about it, that would make quite the column, people who you are allergic to. Sorry, another tangent. No, I am not writing this drunk) and I have an epiphany.
Which, of course, because I am my mother’s daughter, I had to share with the poor teenager sitting next to me. And now I am going to share it with you.
When you are young, going to a bris doesn’t mean anything to you. You go because your parents tell you to. And you hope they let you eat dessert. When you go to a bris when you are dating, your thoughts go to your future and whether you will be blessed with the ability to have a bris for your own child. Then you get married, you go to a bris, and you get a little teary because you are either pregnant or trying to get pregnant. (Going to a bris after a miscarriage is not up for discussion in a humor column, because there is nothing funny about that.) Then, with God’s help, you have a baby and going to a bris means shlepping the little guy out and hoping you don’t have to nurse him because you forgot to wear your nursing bra and it becomes a whole process that isn’t worth going into. Hamayveen, yaveen (which means “those who understand, understand what I am referring too”).
For the next few years, as a new mother, brises are emotional. Is it because you haven’t slept for years? Is it because you are hormonal? Who knows… But then, the tears seem to stop. That seems to be after your last bar mitzvah and before you make a wedding.
Could it be because you’re menopausal? You are angry at your kids? You don’t particularly like your spouse that day? Again, who knows. But then the tears start again. Either you’re becoming a grandparent, or you are a grandparent, or you wish you were a grandparent. They’re tears for what is, what could have been, and what you hope will be.
And there I am, trying to explain this to a 15-year-old girl, who would rather be anywhere else but listening to me going on with my epiphany. Poor kid. But the thing about a bris is that from that ceremony comes a young man.
A young man who, with the right guidance and a whole lot of luck, will grow up to be a good man. A man who has sons of his own who think he is the greatest father in the whole world. Who teaches his boys by example — going to minyan in Podunk, Indiana, learning with his son who is in Israel almost every day, driving his other son into the city, and trusting his baby with a car. I would now be talking about husband #1.
His Hebrew birthday is on Purim, which is this week, and he already told me that he doesn’t want anything for his birthday. So this paragraph is his gift. Happy birthday to husband #1 and happy Purim to the rest of you.
And the next time you see me at a bris, you might want to sit at another table.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is married to a man who can lain a 15 minute megillah. It is one of his many talents that doesn’t seem to annoy her.