In search of paper chains
Sukkos is coming, and I’m at a bit of a loss.
Once upon a time, I had preschoolers. Preschoolers make actually sitting in the sukkah a bit sketchy, but they make sukkah decoration easy. Morah Rivki and Morah Miriam and Morah Leah (doesn’t everyone have a Morah Rivki, Morah Miriam, or a Morah Leah at some point?) send home a pile of projects right before vacation starts and—Voila!—there’s our sukkah decoration. The kids and I would need to spend half an hour the morning before yom tov taping and stapling and tying up paper chains and little doves and ushpizin charts, and that would be that.
Did our look like a spread in Binah or Family First? Nope. Did I care? Not really—because, after all, it was haimish and friendly. Baruch Hashem, I like haimish and friendly.
As my kids aged, they brought home ever more sophisticated sukkah decorations. And at home during the summer, they enjoyed doing projects with me, so we made still more sukkah decorations, which I saved carefully until Tishrei.
The sukkah became crowded with decorations, and I liked it, because if my sukkah of the preschool years looked haimish and friendly, now if looked doubly so.
And then my kids stopped bringing home sukkah decorations.
And then my kids stopped enjoying art projects, especially mid-summer.
“Ima! It’s not even Tisha B’Av! Why are we making sukkah stars today?” my 11 year old complained, then ducked her head back in her book.
Last year, a few days before Sukkos, I pulled out the box with our old decorations and sighed over the sorry state of affairs. Sudden rainstorms on Shemini Atzeres and erev yom tov had ruined many of our treasures. Others had faded from too many years in the sun.
I asked my kids whether they’d help me make new decorations, and I got a single origami dove. They’d rather spend Sukkos vacation reading then toiling over velvet, sequins, and papier-mâché.
When I told my husband that I was getting desperate, he suggested that I write a letter to our son’s eighth grade rebbe:
Dear Rabbi _______,
Our sukkah is looking pathetic. Can you please sack today’s gemara lesson and make some paper chains instead? Or a few stuffed pomegranates and esrogim?
With great respect,
Mrs. Rebecca Klempner
I didn’t think that would go over so well.
My guess is that this year, I will do what I ended up doing last year: I spent the morning before Sukkos pretending I was a preschooler, cutting and gluing and painting all by my lonesome. It was kinda therapeutic, in that “adult coloring book” kind of way, but I probably didn’t cook as much as I normally would before chag. On the other hand, since I usually cook too much food, more food than we and our guests can possibly eat, that might be a good thing.
If you happen to be in the neighborhood this Sukkos, feel free to drop by to admire its décor. Just don’t expect any gourmet treats while you sit a spell in our sukkah’s shade. You’ll have to settle for a piece of fruit like the rest of us.