This past weekend was a milestone for Husband #1’s family. His brother made a bar mitzvah for the youngest of the grandchildren from his side of the family. I still remember this little boy being in utero at Son #2’s bar mitzvah. That was yesterday, wasn’t it? Spending the weekend with Strudel and her sister (and her parents and Son and Dil #3, Thank God, wishing those blessings on everyone in good health) was really special.

Since it was a bar mitzvah, there were only male classmates invited. Come to think of it, I am not even sure if the girls and boys are in class together at that school. In any event, they had a game room set up just for the kids. And, of course, even with all the toys I brought for Strudel, this room was her favorite place to hang out. Though she was excited to see the mini-hockey paraphernalia, as Camp Babka does offer mini hockey as an activity because we have at least 40 mini hockey sticks, in righty and lefty, a variety of colors, and NHL team logos…

She learned that if you give a boy some sort of ball, he is happy. “What dat kind a ball?” she would ask. Footballs, basketballs, hockey balls, ping pong balls — Strudel got quite the lesson in male accoutrements. She even learned about darts and a dart board. (Don’t worry, it was magnetic.)

For me, seeing all these boys playing mini hockey and other assorted “male” games brought back memories of all the boys who have come through my house. But what really brought me back? The smell. The smell of the room after hours of pre-teen boys playing inside. When I opened the door of the game room, the smell just hit me in the face, and I said, “Strudel, do you smell that?” She sniffed with her adorable little nose and said, “What dat smell?” And I replied, with a reflective lilt in my voice, “Boy, that smell is boy.”

She didn’t really care, she just went into the room to play with the giant Connect Four game, but it’s all good. Even with all the supervision of these kids, someone needed stitches, because, as the saying goes, “It’s all fun and games until you see blood.” The Hatzalah crew that was there all got excited about the prospect of healing someone, and I volunteered to drive the kid to the hospital on Friday night because I was the only woman there not covering my hair. But the kid was fine, and the rest of the weekend went by without a scratch, thank God.

So that part of the weekend was nostalgic in one sense, and then Sunday was a totally different type of nostalgia. Husband #1 and I went to see the place where we got married.

Birchwood Manor in Whippany was the scene of our nuptials, almost 29 years ago. Someone I knew was getting married there a few months before our wedding date, my parents and I went to check it out, and we were sold. Walking in, all these years later, was a lot more emotional than I thought it would be. Seeing those magnificent chandeliers again just brought me back to that very special day. Sarcasm and all.

Husband #1 and I were walking around, there was some Mother/Daughter breakfast going on, and we were approached by a very friendly woman named Farrell. She is the fourth generation of the same family running this very special place. I was always surprised that more of “our people” didn’t get married there. Even though Whippany sounds like a very exotic and faraway land, it is really only 30 minutes from Teaneck. But that’s neither here nor there.

Farrell is only 31, and our wedding was 29 years ago, so you do the math. I felt even older than I did at the bar mitzvah. We had such a lovely conversation about all the upgrades that the family has made over the years (the Birchwood Manor family, not my family) and she told us that her 88-year-old grandmother still does the books. God bless.

All in all, it was a very special weekend. And, yes, the food was delicious at the bar mitzvah, because it is all about the food.

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck encourages any engaged people to check out Birchwood Manor. She is not being paid for this endorsement, she just thinks it is really beautiful…

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