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Succos Blues

Daliya Shapiro

I could never fathom how my siblings were always laughing and singing and so happy when everything around them was so miserable

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

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I was being a kvetch. I knew I was. But I didn’t care. I was not looking forward to Succos and I didn’t want anyone to mistakenly think I was. I could tell you a million reasons why, but you’d probably say you’re not interested, like everyone else in my family.

So when my big brother Akiva was putting up the sechach while the younger kids watched and asked a million questions, I glared. When Tamara, Baila, and Sruli were putting up the decorations, we could hear their laughter and chattering all the way in the house, but I still sulked.

“Minna, why don’t you help the kids hang the decorations? You love to decorate and design.” That was my mother, trying to get me out of my sour mood.

I glowered. “That’s for little kids.” My mother was always so good and kind, and I felt bad reacting like such a grouch.

“Why don’t you set the table? You can do the napkin folding and table decorating.” She knew that was my favorite job and I appreciated how patient my mother was being with me, but still, I couldn’t seem to shake my bad mood.

Succos tables meant bugs. Bugs hovering around the lights, many getting zapped and landing on the table. The table full of food.

Succos was not for me. The nights were frigid and so often raining. Who could enjoy a Yom Tov meal in a big puffy coat? It meant frizzy hair because the weather was always wet or humid or both. It meant sweltering heat in the daytime, while constantly ducking to avoid bees and mosquitoes. It meant inspecting each bite of food and watching my plate the whole time to make sure there were no bugs crawling on it.

I could never fathom how my siblings were always laughing and singing and so happy when everything around them was so miserable. Why were they looking forward to Yom Tov so enthusiastically? Why were they excited for the special foods we had on Succos, like stuffed cabbage and chicken-turkey rollups, when there were bugs all over the table? Why were my sisters excited to wear new Yom Tov clothing when their hair went all frizzy anyway?

“Minna, maybe you’d like to help me cook? You can be in charge of desserts if you want.” So I said yes, and I did help out, partially to behave like a better daughter and partly because I couldn’t deny that it was more fun to bake and fold fancy napkins than to sit in my room and sulk. 

The morning of Erev Yom Tov, my house was buzzing with excitement. Everyone was offering to help out, no one complained about chores, and by early afternoon the house had that Yom Tov feel. I could smell the chicken soup wafting through the house. I sniffed at each boiling pot, and couldn’t help but shiver with anticipation for the amazing food my mother made. But I quickly squashed down any happy thoughts; I wouldn’t want anyone to think I actually liked Succos, right

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