Monday, October 13, 2014

Celebrating Sukkot (Soon to be Renamed, "The Festival of Whining")

So, my family and I are in the middle of celebrating Sukkot, a Jewish harvest festival, similar to Thanksgiving. It’s my very favorite holiday of the whole year, because it’s the only holiday that we celebrate on our own, with traditions we’ve developed for ourselves. I love celebrating holidays with my parents, in-laws and extended family, but there is something special about creating traditions on your own.

However, after this year, I may have to rethink the order of my favorite holidays.

One of the things you do on Sukkot is to build a sukkah, a three-sided hut, and eat at least one meal in it during the seven-day holiday. Seven years ago (remember this number), my daughter wrote an essay in Temple about why she wanted a sukkah, and as a result of that essay (or quite possibly because she was the only entry), she won a sukkah for our family. Since then, we’ve built it on our deck every single year.

Sukkot falls in the autumn. It’s usually warm the day we build it, and gets progressively colder as the holiday goes on. The day we got ready to build the sukkah, my younger daughter complained it was freezing and looked like this:

It wasn’t freezing. It was sixty something degrees.

“I don’t like Sukkot because I have to eat outside in the cold,” she complained. Considering that we make it usually one or two dinners during the seven-day holiday, this doesn’t seem like a legitimate complaint, even for me, who is ALWAYS cold.

Once you build the sukkah, you are supposed to decorate it. Every year, I take the girls’ artwork that they no longer want (again, remember this part) and from the garbage pile (having saved pieces they like and that my husband and I like), I pull out any harvest pictures to decorate the sukkah the following year. Remember how I said we’ve built a sukkah for seven years? Well, each year we have different pictures hanging—when you build a three-sided hut outside and decorate with paper drawings and paintings, the drawings and paintings don’t last.

So this year, I grabbed the latest pile of paintings and put them up. The girls were too busy with homework to help, and my husband was away on business.  I decorated and prepared for us to eat our dinner in there that night.

“Why did you put these pictures up?” my oldest cried. “They’re going to get destroyed! How could you do this?”
“I do this every year. And these are paintings you didn’t want to save and gave me permission to hang in the sukkah.”
“No I didn’t.”
“Yes you did.”

We’ve eaten in the sukkah twice so far. This year, we even bought a lulav and etrog (a branch and a lemon-type fruit that is symbolic and that you wave as you recite a prayer). They haven’t come up with a complaint for that…yet.

Happy fall, everyone!

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