The candlesticks
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The candlesticks

Historically, the term “mother-in-law” has caused chills down a person’s spine. The stories are endless. Mothers-in-law who have been caught wearing the bride’s wedding dress, mothers-in-law who have given fake jewels instead of real ones, mothers-in-law who call too early in the morning or too late at night, who call too often or don’t call at all. It seems they can’t win. Of course, because I am such a narcissist, I am convinced that I will be the best mother-in-law ever.

Please stop laughing.

As a boymom — and a proud, realistic boymom — I realize that my position is on shaky ground, because if my daughters-in-law don’t like me, I don’t have a biological daughter to fall back on. Which means my room in a nursing home (and not a private room, probably a dorm filled with other boymoms who have grown full beards because no one ever comes to visit and pluck them) is pretty much sealed in stone.

Over the years, the rules of what mothers-in-law are supposed to do have changed. I think. I don’t really know. I remember when I got married, I was told that mothers-in-law buy the candlesticks and the sheital. I remember telling my mother-in-law this when husband #1’s brother got engaged, so she could get the goods for my future sister-in-law. I got candlesticks because I didn’t cover my hair (probably another reason why I have two sons with black hats, but that is for another column).

Since I am going to be the best mother-in-law in the whole world, I was going to do everything I was told. But then my mother-in-law informed husband #1 that the grandmothers had bought the candlesticks for her other grandson’s wife. Uh oh — I had never heard that before. But what about me? (Since it is all about me!) I wanted to be a part of the candlestick-buying process! It turned out that my part was driving my then future daughter-in-law crazy about when we could go and buy the candlesticks. Admitting your faults is the first step in recovery. Long story short, the two grandmothers and the crazy mother-in-law all chipped in for them together, and my mother and I took the bride to buy them because my mother-in-law was in Florida.

OK, this is where the story starts.

We finally pick a date to go to Grand Sterling, which, for the record, is no longer on the Lower East Side but has moved to two locations in Brooklyn. I texted the bride where we were to meet, I picked up my mother, and off to Avenue J we went. It was pouring rain, the traffic was horrible, but we were so excited for this milestone that it didn’t even matter. And when we finally got there, there was a parking spot right in front of the store — a sign from up above that all was meant to be. I texted the bride that we were there, and I helped my mother across the street.

When we get into the store, the bride calls me and says, “Hi, I am here.” Yay! I was so excited. I am looking around the store, the bride is a teeny tiny thing, so maybe I missed seeing her — but I am not seeing her anywhere. So I call her back, “Um, I am not seeing you…where are you?” Well, it turns out that the bride went to the other Grand Sterling.

My first mother-in-law dilemma. Am I supposed to get into the car and go pick her up from the other location? But the car is in such a great spot. But if I don’t pick her up that is so selfish of me. But it is pouring outside and I have my mother with me who has trouble walking. But if it was my kid I would want her to be picked up. But look at that spot. It is right in front of the store! Fortunately, the bride is an unbelievably sweet and kind individual, who wants everyone to be happy, so she ended up taking a cab to the other store — and told me not to worry about it and that she totally didn’t mind doing it. She is a good egg, that one, but this was definitely strike one in my book.

In the end, she picked out beautiful candlesticks, which I hope and pray she will use for 120 years in good health, mazal, and bracha. (And then I drove her back to Teaneck so she could see her groom. Do I get brownie points for that?)

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck hopes you all have an easy fast and a gmar tov. May we all be inscribed in the book of life.

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