May 2024

Mazel & Mishagoss: How NOT to Throw a Neighborhood Memorial Day BBQ


First things first: Feel proper Jewish guilt, remembering how last Memorial Day you nonchalantly grilled steaks in your backyard when the next door neighbor popped his nosy head over the fence yelling, “Mmm, something sure smells good!” You weren’t channeling your Grandma Ethel back then (a generous hostess who cooks for an army!) so you didn’t invite him over. But now it’s time to make up for that. And then some!

Next, resolve to include anyone living within “Aroma Wafting” distance – plus all neglected neighbors who weren’t invited to your Bar Mitzvahs, much to Grandma Ethel’s dismay.

Rethink leaving notification flyers under everyone’s frontdoor welcome mat because that’s what pushy realtors and obnoxious cable companies do. Instead, hang, “EVERYONE Reading this is Invited to Our Backyard Cookout” posters on community mailboxes.

Be shocked when a postal worker knocks on your door (personally delivering your mail, which he never does!), and sheepishly asks, “Okay to bring my cousins and their kids?” What would Grandma Ethel say? “Nu? The more the merrier!” THAT’S what she’d say.

Overhear through your open window two mothers chatting on the sidewalk, “Do you know her? I don’t know her either. How lame! Maybe she has no other friends.”

Realize you wrote “Potluck” on the invites to promote camaraderie and teamwork, but now everyone’ll just think you’re cheap. Also, since you didn’t do that organized thing Martha Stewart does (Dividing last names into A-L = side dish/drinks and M-Z = main course/appetizer) there will probably be 17 containers of Costco white chocolate macadamia cookies on your dessert buffet. And nuts don’t belong in baked goods.

Knock on individual doors because you forgot to put RSVP info in your flyer. Act surprised when the first neighbors (The Steinbergers) thank you for inviting them, but remark they’ll only come if another Kosher family attends because their kids feel funny being the only ones eating special food. Think fast and reassure them that the Goldman family also keeps kosher and will absolutely be attending and has also expressed having children who feel kinda awkward eating their separate food. (Grandma Ethel would plotz at your solution!)

Break a sweat racing over to the Goldman home, pleading with them to come to your BBQ, (in honor of National Kosher Memorial Day) and all they have to do is eat what’s in the bag (which will be left on their front porch that morning) and have their kids look kinda gawky and uncomfortable.

Order bagged To-Go food from a kosher Jewish deli. (Sorry Grandma Ethel, I know you definitely would’ve cooked it homemade!)

Pray that the Steinbergers and the Goldmans never EVER bring this topic up in conversation with one another at synagogue.

Fret over dead patio plants, tattered lawn furniture and how everyone else’s property looks far nicer. And what’s there to do back here after fressing down a picnic anyhow?

Re-landscape, buy patio seating, and put in an underground swimming pool with a built-in waterslide.

Make the case to your husband that he must repaint your home’s interior because neighbors need to walk thru your entire house to get to the backyard since entering via the side gate exposes them to the horrible stench of your trashcans. Keep talking about Benjamin Moore “Swiss Coffee Shoreline” color palette even when he interrupts, saying he’ll simply relocate the garbage barrels inside your garage.

Phone a marriage counselor when the divorce papers arrive.

Field calls from your siblings/parents AND Grandma Ethel who all kvetch about looking forward to a private, quiet, family reunion BBQ but you had to go and invite a bunch of strangers so now they’re not coming.

Traipse around the entire neighborhood canceling your event when the local weatherman claims an unseasonable rainstorm is hitting San Diego this weekend.

Ask your mailman’s cousin to pass the butter for the corn-on-the-cob and tell the mailman’s cousin’s children you’d appreciate indoor voices while sitting at your formal dining room table. And no they cannot play Marco Polo in your bathtub. When will this storm end? And what were you thinking channeling Grandma Ethel anyhow? Oy!



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