When the time comes to make a simha, most people are flooded by a whirlwind of emotion. Happiness, jubilation and pride take us over as we bask in the glory of those precious moments in our lives. But soon after the news is announced and the initial “mabrouks” are exclaimed, the joy gives way to the inevitable nerves of preparation. “Who are we inviting?” “Where should we have the affair?” “What are we doing for flowers?”
Gnawing questions such as these can sometimes thrust the baaleh simha into a state of hysteria and panic. The daunting tasks that lie ahead can be so intimidating that they eliminate the joy and euphoria of a family celebration. The exuberant feelings of pride are quickly replaced by stressful thoughts of, “I have so little time and so much to do!” and “We can’t possibly get this done!”
These sentiments make it nearly impossible to stay focused and tend to the tasks at hand. It is our nature to get so bogged down by the responsibilities and pressures of planning of a simhathat our usual capabilities fail us. Yes, sisters and sisters-in-law help out. Of course there’s the ever-present aunt that’s always there at the ready. But the bulk of the work will ultimately come down to you. And your presence of mind is paramount in bringing that special day to fruition. Here are some tips to help ensure that the simha-planningprocess remains as stress-free and calm as possible.
LIVE IN THE MOMENT
When it’s time toact, ACT. But when it’s time to enjoy…enjoy! Don’t start calling the caterer three minutes after your daughter says “yes” to the “will-you-marry-me?” Enjoy the moment. Take it in. Live within the actual experience as it unfolds, not just when you reviewthe pictures six months later. We get so overwhelmed about what lies ahead that we forget about where we stand. Take a moment or two to focus on your surroundings. Observe the beauty of the experience. Take notice of your second cousin in the corner that came in from Deal. Or your soon-to-be son-in-law’s sister-in-law who’s trying to make conversation. Each and every person that attends is part and parcel of the celebration. Acknowledge them. Turn to your spouse and voice your appreciation for Hashem’s generosity. If you rise above the panic, you can get a bird’s eye view of the awesomeness that’s beneath you. Try it.
PLAN, DONT PANIC
Panicking never helped anyone accomplish anything. It usually leads to ill-advised decisions and misguided judgment. The day after the good news, whether it be for the birth of a child or an engagement, stop. Compose yourself and think. What do you want? What needs to be done? Who can you enlist to help me? How much time do you have? How much money can you spend? Do not allow the hurricane of urgency to blow you over. Contemplate exactly what you need to accomplish and then write it down. You can make the list as long as a shopping receipt before Pesach, but be sure that all the tasks are practical. Don’t include any extraordinary errands that are not imperative for the job at hand. Focus on the essentials. The hall, caterer, music, photographer, florist and the like should be your primary points of focus. “Aaron’s shoe laces from 32ndand whoknowswhere” is not going to play avital role in your engagement party. If there’s time, yes, but if not, then the old laces will do just fine.
If the children are old enough, then enlist their help. If they are too young or incapable, then turn to the rest of your eager family to assist. Don’t fret over relinquishing control. Give them the necessary authority to make decisions in your absence. The color of the napkin rings doesn’t need your time; you have far more pressing matters at hand. Using your family as your team can play a crucial role in lowering your stress level as the day nears. Their involvement will not only alleviate your burden, but also help create a festive and joyful mood in your home that will help snuff out the flames of stress. Friends and family are usually eager to help out, so be sure to utilize their support. However, although delegating is essential, do not lose touch. Check in from time to time to make sure that their task execution is consistent with your overall vision.
Once you’ve determined what needs to be done and you’ve delegated as much as possible, execute. Don’t spend too much time deliberating on each and every aspect of the party. Now it’s time to get the job done. Choose the caterer, select a band or DJ, purchase the clothing, etc. Don’t turn the question of “should we have sushi?” into a family meeting. Make the decision as best you see fit. If it’s a pressing issue and one that requires input and advice, then of course spend some time to make sure you make the right choice.But as for the minute nuances, remember that they are usually much more pronounced in your mind then they are at the actual event. Spending excessive amounts of time on those things will divert your mind from the big picture and cause unnecessary stress.
TAKE A MINUTE
During all the hoopla, it’s hard to imagine even enjoying your morning coffee. This is a classic mistake most people make whenever they are up against the clock. Running on overdrive blurs your senses and dilutes the decision making. Your mind needs to be sharp and on the ball. True, this is easier said than done, but try carving out a few minutes in your day to relax. Our lives are very busy, baruch Hashem, but sitting down for a quick lunch or grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend can go a long way toward easing the pressure. A solid break can reinvigorate you and help calm your nerves during the chaotic period that precedes a simha. Your body needs to eat and your mind needs to sleep; depriving them of these needs will only compound the pressure as the day draws near. Many people arrive at their own affairs so exhausted that they can’t enjoy the fruits of their labor. Small breaks splintered throughout the days can make for a far more harmonious arrival. Don’t feel guilty about taking a few moments. Think of it as refueling your car. Yes, you have places you need to go, but without gas, your car simply can’t move!
DONT OVERDO IT
Of course, we all want the most beautiful affair we can afford. Yes, you’d like toput your best foot forward when hosting your guests. However, the nature of the human being is such that nearly the second a guest exits the door of the party, he forgets nearly everything he just saw. That’s not to say your work was all for naught; certainly, making a presentable simhais important. But nobody remembers if the napkins were teal blue or turquoise. The next morning they aren’t concerning themselves with your flower arrangements. It behooves us all to remember this when we’re stressing over this mishap or the other. Relax. The world will not come crashing down if one dessert is missing. Nor will you be ostracized from your social circle if the platters weren’t Lucite. Most of the time, the difference between a top-tier event and one that is subpar is only in the mind of the host, not the guests.
SMILE AND WAVE
Last but certainly not least, don’t let the hustle and bustle lead you to accidentally snub people along the way. The chitchat by the butcher? “I don’t have time for that.” The usual friendly text message? “I’m sorry, now is not the time.” Be careful. You don’t want to rub someone the wrong way a day before they receive your invitation. Remember, this is supposed to be among the most enjoyable moments of your family’s life, and so you don’t want to alienate people in the process. Smile, wave, shmooze. You want your friends and family to enjoy your simha, not begrudge you for it. Nothing tests a person’s emotional stamina more than an endless list of errands and a short amount of time within which to complete them, but be mindful, take notice and be cognizant of the people in your life. Because if you manage this well, YOUR simhawill become THEIR simha.