Summer is here, which means birthdays in the Crunch household: Banana’s at the start of Tammuz, Beans’s, Peach’s, and the Cap’n's in Av. Of course, summer birthdays often mean cramming classroom birthday parties into the last few weeks of school or gan. Beans and Banana had theirs with cake, musical chairs, and brachot (birthday wishes) from their peers. Peach has chosen a party at home in lieu of a school party, so I am preparing for 7 friends to descend for a party tomorrow morning at Beit Crunch. But Hashem has bestowed upon me the blessing of a bat mitzvah girl in the neighborhood who hires herself out as a party planner and executrix, so all I have to do is provide the food, and she’ll provide the fun.
Then, of course, there are the gifts. Back at the New Year, the Cap’n's North American company ran out of cash, turning a posse of incredibly highly-skilled hi-tech workers out into the streets. The Cap’n has since found a job at a reputable company in Jerusalem, where the benefits are not to be beat, but where the salary… well, let’s just say the Crunches are not big spenders, but we are nonetheless discovering for ourselves how it is that Israelis survive high prices, steep tariffs, and low salaries: by going into debt. (So in between planning birthdays, running the house, ripping up smelly, dusty old carpet we inherited when we bought the house two years ago, assisting the Cap’n to buy a car that fits the whole family, making Shabbos every week, and shlepping Beans to get her ears pierced, I’m supposed to be looking for work. La!) So my solution this year? Each girl gets a party (at school, gan, or home), a gift (not large, but something the child will enjoy), and an experience. Banana had her party at gan, I bought her our favorite book (that I read her at gan at least once a week), and she and her siblings were taken to a kids’ fun place at a nearby kibbutz. Beans had her party at school, I’m outfitting the sewing box my mother gave me for Christmas when I was 12, which is still in excellent condition, and although getting her ears pierced was actually the pay-off for a behavior contract we had, I think that is going to suffice for an experience. (She’s so over the moon about it that I may not have to get her anything else until she enlists in the army.) And Peach wants her party at home; I haven’t thought of a gift yet for her (fingers drumming); and perhaps a family trip to the beach in our new/used Mitsubishi Grandis will do for an experience.
The sad part, of course, is that by the time the Cap’n's birthday rolls around near the end of Av, I am so wiped out from the hurricane of girls’ birthdays, I don’t know what to do for him. For the past four years, we have been packing for SOMETHING (aliyah, moving, or trips to the US), and the Cap’n's birthday has been swept aside by the flurry of boxes, suitcases, carry-ons, travel-size shampoos, and the like. (Last year we had the inestimable joy of being with close friends in Boston, with the traditional JP Lick’s ice cream cake, but that is far from the norm.) By his birthday, I am usually sick of the taste of cake, and one more chorus of “Happy Birthday” or “Hayom Yom Huledet” will send me over the edge. And while he is a wizard at choosing gifts, he is the hardest person I know to buy something for. So what shall I do this year? Try my hand at a homemade ice cream cake? The family-size gelato cakes at the divine Sorrento gelato stop in Beit Shemesh are a whopping 85 shekels, and I already have an ice cream maker. A party? We haven’t yet made friends close enough to consider what we used to call “the Usual Suspects” with whom we always did birthdays, but we’re getting there slowly. An experience? We could both use an overnight getaway somewhere (the Dead Sea, perhaps) with good food, massages, and no sound of giggling or fighting at 6 AM, and there are plenty of competent sitters around. How to pay for it, though, short of selling Bill for scientific experimentation, is a mystery.
and this fine dining experience.
Hey honey! Where’s my burka?