This week I attended a bris. As we stood around the living room, the mohel leading the group in prayer, I played with the other kids quietly in a corner until everyone was exclaiming “Mazel tov!” and singing and clapping. I’d been to one of these before, two years prior, for the same family’s first son. I knew what was going to happen and was happy to be distracted.
The naming portion of the ceremony is my favorite. By custom, as the mohel explained, the baby is not to be referred to by his name until after he is circumcised. Then he is officially welcomed into the world with his new name. This baby boy was named after his late great grandmother (H) and her best friend (R). Amanda, the mother, spoke about how her grandmother and her grandmother’s best friend were tied to the hip. And now they would continue to always be together through her son’s name.
I started crying at the notion. Most in the room, including the parents, were also teary. One of the kids in my lap looked at me with wide eyes and said a bit too loudly, “Can we eat the cake now?” We all laughed.
When my parents moved to Texas more than 10 years ago, I found myself at the kitchen tables of my friends’ parents. I wiggled my way into their family vacations, Sunday dinners, and invitations to important events — anniversary parties, holidays, baptisms. I was thankful there was always an extra plate of food and often far too many questions and concern about what was going on in my life.
This bris, with my friends’ parents asking about my work, their nieces climbing all over me, and distant family chatting with me about recipes—it felt like I was home. Yes, it’s been more than a decade and I have my own family now. And yes, my parents are thriving and I’m happy for them. But also, yes: I miss them. I miss our Sunday tradition of bbq chicken, Rummicub, and bad television. I miss being able to craft with my mom. I miss swimming with my dad. I miss them being in my everyday life. Our time together now is infrequent and scheduled and often stressful.
As we head into the holiday season, I know I’m not alone in being more sentimental. It can be hard when the people you want there aren’t present—and vice versa. Here is to hoping our tables are full of laughter, and full of the family we’ve made, not just been given. And that there is enough wine to help ignore everything else.