A friend who works for a Jewish institution posted on Facebook that it's always this time of year when she hears a lot of, "Why are your offices closed? I never heard of this holiday you speak of." Thank you, Miryam, for this: http://www.isitajewishholidaytoday.com/
Yes! I feel sheepish, at times, having to explain that there's "yet another holiday" this week, and that once again my children will be home from school. It's a lot of celebrating, all squished together into a short period of time. I remember trying to explain to friends in high school, or at the office, why I was missing so much school/ work this time of year: "it's another Jewish holiday...don't ask." You could tell they weren't sure whether to believe you. It doesn't really seem plausible, does it?
And right after the summer! How in the world can you get back into your family's routines when your preschooler has only one morning of school a week for the first three?
Of course, for those who observe, it doesn't matter when the holidays fall; whenever they arrive, we greet them with open arms. We do our best to cook and prepare and be merry. We make the brisket, twice (once for RH, and once for Sukkot)! (OK, let's be honest "we" don't make the brisket; Josh does. I ordered it, though. That counts for something.) We drop everything and run to Savta and Saba's house, where, if we're lucky, we fight for a bed with siblings and cousins. At least this year it was warm; no need for down coats in the sukkah.
Sukkot is an important holiday for our clan. My siblings and I attend our own shuls in our own towns for the high holidays, but every year, the extended family gathers for this strangest of holidays--the one where we shake the imported branches and eat in a hut. (How do you explain this one to the neighbors?) It's really the crunchiest of Jewish holidays. We eat outside! Under the stars! It's like camping. With lots of good food.
The saddest time for us was when we were in London, and couldn't make it home for Sukkot. But, on the other hand, it was exciting because we had a small garden, and our very first (and very tiny) sukkah.
The pop-up sukkah
It's not over yet, this holiday season. Oh, no! We've got Shmini Atzeret (I know! Are you excited?) and Simchat Torah, a perennial childhood favorite. We will dance, we will sing, we will rejoice, and then we will say goodbye to this holiday marathon for another year. Phew. I'm exhausted.