Here we are in the midst of graduation season and I am really not sure how to proceed. I feel a lot of pressure to attend all the graduations of my friends’ and family’s kids, but there are just so many. From pre-school, to lower school, middle school, and beyond, it seems like everyone is constantly graduating. How do I prioritize? Do I buy gifts for everyone? Is it wrong for me to feel that all these graduations seem a little much? What to do?
I want to say, “Good on you, Smadar, for verbalizing what we all feel.” But I am not going to, and here’s why:
To someone at that graduation you are dreading, it is the most important event of their year. While you may be bored out of your mind, someone in the audience is deeply affected that their long-awaited child has reached the milestone of graduating preschool. Another may be thrilled that their lower-school graduate overcame a difficult learning disability and managed to thrive in tough circumstances. And an eighth grader who had emotional difficulties for much of her life, and got accepted into a high school program that did not seem within reach the year before ... imagine that mother’s emotions at that middle school graduation. You catch my drift.
I totally get what you are saying though. In fact, when my oldest, precious, perfect child graduated from preschool, I took a thousand pictures, told everyone I knew, and if Facebook had been a thing back then, you can bet every one of my “friends” would have scrolled by as quickly as possible to avoid my ridiculous bragging.
A few years later, when my umpteenth child graduated, I’m not sure what happened because I literally have no recollection that such an event ever took place. In other words, like much of life, it’s all a matter of perspective.
In terms of what you should do, definitely prioritize. You are pretty much stuck going to the events of close family members unless you have a majorly good excuse, like you have come down with the plague or are in Zimbabwe. For close friends, I would say suck it up and go, because people appreciate these things, but only really for a high school graduation. I think going to your BFF’s kid’s lower school graduation is probably beyond the call of duty.
In terms of gifts, for high school graduations it is really nice to give a gift. A useful gift for college or yeshiva/seminary is a great idea, be it a travel accessory or a gift card (Target, iTunes, anything teenagey). If you attend the graduation, a bouquet for the graduate is always sweet.
For any other graduations you are invited to, it’s really nice to send a donation in honor of the graduate. People totally appreciate it and know that you are thinking of them even if you don’t manage to drag yourself down to the preschool in the middle of the day. Many organizations will send a letter to the recipient, e.g., “Rivkie and Mr. Rivkie have given a donation in honor of Yankele’s graduation from preschool.” This is called a win-win.
Overall, remember, life has a lot of not-so-fun parts to it (laundry, homework, dieting, general tzuris [troubles]), and celebrating makes it a lot sweeter. As Pinterest once told me, “The best time to celebrate is whenever you can.”
All the best,