My husband and I just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary.  I thought we were going to do what we do most years - meaning we would not go out on our actual anniversary because we got married on Lag BaOmer.  On Lag BaOmer, we are usually at someone else’s wedding, which is okay because it’s a nice way to relive our wedding on our exact anniversary without having to pay for the expenses of a band, flowers, and catering for a crowd. It’s a big celebration, often with many of our friends and/or family in attendance, with someone else footing the bill.  Not bad at all. But this year, in a rare occurrence, we weren’t invited to a wedding. 

So, we had a nice evening out - albeit on our own tab - and I assumed that would be it. But since we are celebrating a round-number anniversary, my kids decided to make us a surprise party.  I love surprises!  “Obviously we would do something for this anniversary,” my daughter said, wondering to herself why I was surprised at all.  But it wasn’t obvious to me or my husband. My brother and I made a big bash for our parents’ 25th anniversary, but it never crossed our minds to do anything for their 30th. Hmmm. Am I supposed to feel bad about this?  I’m not sure, but I’m not going to think about that right now.  I don’t think my parents expected it either, and would certainly have forgiven us had we messed up.

Anyway, my daughter told us to clear our calendar for Friday morning so that we could do some sort of anniversary-related activity.  No problem. With Friday being as long as it is, even I would be able to pull myself out of the kitchen for a few hours.  The day before Friday, which happened to be Thursday, my daughter informed me that our anniversary celebration would involve a photoshoot with a professional photographer. Wow! Another surprise. Glad she gave me the heads-up so that I could plan my outfit accordingly. Images of the contents of my closet began to swirl through my mind.  But it seems that my anniversary attire was not my decision to make.  She let me know that she would be going through my closet together with me to find something appropriate to wear.  Apparently, this wasn’t something I was capable of doing on my own.  It turned out that this photoshoot would have similarities to my wedding and the weddings of my children. 

One of the most difficult parts of planning our weddings was outfitting everyone.  The gowns. The ties.  The shoes. But even though this wasn’t a wedding, I was told that the whole family had to be coordinated for this event as well.  At least we didn’t need to worry about giving out kibbudim.  But there were many factors that had to be considered when choosing our outfits.  We had to match, but without matching.   How to do that, I had no idea, which I guess is why I needed a wardrobe consultant.  We had to wear clothes that were the same level of informality. We needed a few solid colors, but not too many.  We needed to have prints, but not too busy.  Some dresses. Some skirts. Some button-down shirts.  Sounded like Dr. Seuss, who popped into my mind for another reason as well.  I pondered how nice it would have been had the Cat in the Hat arrived at my home to pick up the piles of clothes that were considered and subsequently discarded.

There was a lot of talk about this subject. I mean a lot.  Many conflicting tastes and requirements.  At bedtime, I found myself in late-night negotiations with my kids about who would wear what.  Those who had just come home that day were surprised that my husband and I were involved in these discussions at all, since this was supposed to be a surprise for us.  But the surprise was on them.  We were in the know.  None of the women wanted to wear a dress.  No one was willing to step up for the cause. My husband was just about ready to volunteer just so that he could go to sleep.  Each person’s outfit was dependent on the others, but some people were taking advantage of a sleeping newborn baby and were unavailable to participate in the ongoing negotiations.  We were forced to go to sleep with a Plan A and Plan B and a wait-and-see approach.  In the morning, we went ahead with Plan B and headed out to Park Britania, about a 15-minute drive from home.  When we all met, some were a bit surprised to see what others were wearing.  After all the hours of discussion, it wasn’t exactly what they had expected. But it’s all good. I am sure the photos will be beautiful when we get them. 

When we entered the park, we were treated to another surprise: A picnic table was charmingly set up under a tree in rustic décor, complete with beautiful wicker baskets and vases of dried flowers. The photographer picked a scenic area to do the photoshoot where there awaited yet another surprise.  Gnats!  Tons!  Everywhere!  We couldn’t stop swatting them with our hands, which made posing for the camera a great challenge.  My daughter decided to use the photographer as her assistant and took charge of the situation. She directed who would stand where.  She gave instructions to lean this way and that.  Move to the right.  A drop to the left. In front of the tree.  Behind the rock. She suggested that we continue to swat, but on the count of three, stop for just one second and pose.  It basically worked, and hopefully we will get some nice pictures out of this. 

After the shoot, we had a lovely picnic brunch with bagels, vegetables, spreads, and delicious iced coffee made fresh with the use of an outdoor gas burner.  Then the entire family, including our newest grandson baruch Hashem, joined us for Shabbos.  This was the first time we were all together for Shabbos with our newest addition and it was really a pleasure.  And that was no surprise at all.

Suzie Steinberg, CSW, is a native of Kew Gardens Hills and resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh who publishes articles regularly in various newspapers and magazines about life in general, and about life in Israel in particular. Her recently published children’s book titled Hashem is Always With Me can be purchased in local Judaica stores as well as online. Suzie can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and would love to hear from you.