Scenes From Sukkot

If you want to feel like a total idiot, you may want to take a walk with your kids to a vacant treed lot at the far end of the street you live on and pick up dead trees and put them in your shopping cart. That doesn’t make you feel like an idiot, because you know why you are doing it and your children love you and haven’t yet reached the age of mockery. But the part where you try to pull the extremely heavy cart through the soft dirt of the new construction going on between the lot and the road and get very stuck might, especially when the guy in the truck stares at you quizzically as you struggle to the sidewalk. The stares from people as they pass you in their cars might too, especially as you have to push this awkward and over loaded cart down the center of the road so as to not get stuck on poles and scratch cars.

Then you could try stalking the landscaping crew where you live for several days and pounce when they trim the palm trees, asking them if you can keep the trimmings. This is fun because you don’t speak Spanish and they only speak garbled English and when they eventually figure out what you are asking you know they think you are loco. But you are unable to explain yourself to them, so you take your palm fronds back to your patio and pretend that it is all perfectly normal. (Note to self, learn to speak Spanish already.)

Then you could start the process of tying all of these dead trees together into a framework on which to place the scavenged leaves to make a roof. You son will want to help, and will get impatient, so you will hand him a book with pictures and he will start bossing you around and telling you how you should do it. By this time you are sweaty and covered in dirt and want nothing more than a shower.

The neighbors stare as they walk by at the dead tree “monstrosity” that you are making and you smile at them and say hello. And then you get a call from “the office” about half an hour after you have finished constructing your booth and have furnished it, and about one hour before sundown, and the management staff will order you to take it down. You will respond, “But it’s for Sukkot.” They will reply that it doesn’t comply with patio regulations but you are ready for this and you point out that the decorations for Halloween and Christmas which they encourage with contests and cash prizes do not comply with patio regulations either, and you feel that you should be permitted to put up your holiday decorations as well. The surprised person on the other end of the phone will reply, “But it’s just a bunch of branches.” You will let some annoyance creep into your voice as you reply, “Of course, that’s the point, that’s what you build for Sukkot, a booth made out of branches.” Then you calm down and make judicious use of the words discriminatory practice, religious observance, and lawyer, at the end of which you are allowed to leave the booth up but they aren’t nice about it. (You are even ready for the, well you aren’t really Jewish, retort. You plan to ask them if they are really Christian and believe in Jesus, and then wonder why it is that they celebrate Christmas. But it doesn’t ever come to that.) You spend the next few days feeling like they are swearing at you in the space behind their eyes as they look over at your patio with pursed lips and grim expressions. You write a polite letter explaining the significance of the holiday and thanking them for allowing it. Their response is curt, and barely civil. But it’s all worth it because of this…

and this…

and this.

You know memories are being made right now, and traditions passed on, and that makes everything worth it. And later you will go to Beema’s house and make little booths out of graham crackers and candy and spend Shabbat with them in their big Sukka. And then you go to synagogue and they have a big hashanot there and you look at your boy as he takes it all in with wonder and turns to you proudly after singing along and says, “I can sing the songs now mommy.” And you feel very fond of your offspring and look forward to later this week when we will have a big Simchat Torah party too.

all content © Carrien Blue

2 thoughts on “Scenes From Sukkot

  1. Thanks for the French shopping cart idea on Meredith’s blog.

    I tried it this morning w/ a suitcase roller … a frame w/ wheels, smaller than the shopping cart in your pic.

    It worked fine for a gallon of milk and some bananas.

    Now I’d like a big one like you have pictured here.


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