Saturday July 8
We all got up early and got ready for the main event, hitting the temple for the 10am services. The place was packed, full not only of all of mom’s friends and family (including Aunt Carla and Uncle Harvey and their daughter, my cousin Michelle. Aunt Bonnie with her daughter Annie (and Annie’s two kids), cousin’s Jerilyn and Thom Deane, Heidi and Troy Teadt, Dana Reznick Campbell and her kids Kym and Manny and Alivia, who is exactly one month older, but half the size of Monki – but was a perfect playmate!), but also the friends and family of the other three women. It was a delightful service (me and the family took a little part in it) and mom was great! Her speech took a jab at my bar mitzvah speech some 37 years ago, but that’s okay – if you can’t hang on to old family jokes, what’s the point, right?
Monki again had issues sitting still, but this temple has done something absolutely brilliant in its design. They built a kid’s room at the back of the synagogue, complete with a speaker system and windows so you can see and hear what’s going in while at the same time allowing children to run around and be noisy. This was perfect for us. Rasa took Monki in there so she could play (and AAron, who had come with his family for the festivities and to meet Monki in person, kept her company, for which both she and I were incredibly grateful).
After the services, we retired to the reception hall for a less formal celebration, complete with goodies for noshing. And there was a lot to celebrate – In addition to mom’s successful completion of her bat mitzvah (today, she is a man) Monki was soon turning one, I was soon turning 50, and Bailey, my nephew, had just graduate high school and would soon be heading north to attend UNR, going for a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
Monki was a hit, running all over the place, smiling at everyone while avoiding their outstretched hands (and with Rasa trailing not far behind). For my part, I was bouncing between seeing lots of people I hadn’t seen in forever, including old friends who had come out just for the occasion. That’s the thing, really. When people ask me what I miss about America, the immediate and most truthful answer is my friends (followed by decent Mexican food). So for me, honestly, one of the highlight of my trips back to the States is the chance to reconnect with people whom I don’t see regularly. It just does my heart good.
After the temple gathering, Rasa and I took Teddy (AAron’s daughter) and Monki to the Disney outlet store. We figured that since we were headed to Disneyland Paris the following week, it made sense to maybe “pre-game” a little bit and get stuff cheaper in the US. We did okay – actually ended up with a Mickey cooler bag on impulse which became our go-to bag for the long flight back to CdG.
Then it was back to the house where even more friends joined in. Troy and Katie and their girls came by (they had also been there in the afternoon) as did my friend Seth, who introduced us to his (then fiancee and now) wife, Beverly. Rasa even finally got a chance to meet my old friend Erica Vanlee, who was responsible for me getting involved with the Vegas magic community back when I first returned from LA.