Surprised that I’m posting about Sukkot during Chanukah? Me too! Sukkot is long gone, but one of the primary themes has remained in my thoughts: struggle. This is due to a sermon by Rabbi Gardenswartz at Temple Emanuel, which was relayed to me by my parents.
The other two chagim have grand themes: the Exodus and receiving the Torah. Sukkot, my favorite holiday, celebrates wandering in the desert. This does not exactly inspire us to observe the holiday, especially in Massachusetts. Must I build a rickety structure that I can’t use after dusk (EEE concerns) and is taken down in 9 days? Why should I eat in the cold when I have a very nice, warm home?
I have basically stopped asking these questions because I enjoy the struggle; I love building things and eating outside. I’m a tough New Englander and I like to prove it! Rabbi Gardenswartz also went on to link struggle with pleasure. He reminded us that we often look back on the times we struggled the most – generally young adulthood – with great nostalgia.
I suppose we forget the crappy apartments, the meaningless jobs, the unstable love life, and the variable social life. We remember eating, drinking, and playing whenever we wanted.
I, however, remember all of those things and enjoyed my twenties. There were definitely rough patches, but overall I was happy. I settled back into my home town and made new friends. I pushed myself at work and achieved many goals. I ate at fantastic restaurants and traveled to wonderful places. I did many of these things with my now-husband, who I also met in my twenties.
No, I think I am currently living my period of struggle. I am 31 years old, and I have an eight month old. No day is easy. Most nights are awful. I can’t do anything whenever I choose. It feels like a light breeze – a cold, a late train – can cause this very precarious life to teeter.
This life, while precarious, has support. My family is the solid ground I stand on. Just like a Sukkah, I may bend and twist in the breeze, but I won’t sink into the Earth. I’ll feel the storms pummeling me, but I have protection.
As I feed little Eitan before putting him to sleep at night, and I feel his legs kicking with excitement (at eating, I presume) I know that these moments are what I will look back on with nostalgia. I look into his big eyes and know this is where I’m supposed to be.
I am so grateful for this Sukkot. I know that when I look back on this time with nostalgia, I lived it as fully as I could. And I’ll be glad it’s over!