The first night eating in the sukkah was lovely. It wasn't the total amazing wow it was last year, because you can only have one very first time eating in your own sukkah. But it was lovely. There was another sukkah in the backyard across from ours, one in the one next to ours, and our landlady's was in her driveway. We were, quite happily, surrounded.
I served grapefruit and then turkey stew with noodles. We talked, and listened to the singing from nearby sukkot. And then jonbaker sang. And by the time he was finished, there was no other sound around us - no conversation, no other song. Just silence, and then the one word "beautiful" said quietly next door and things started again. You know. Wow.
After we finished and said the grace after meals and cleaned up, we went sukkah hopping. First we went next door, where they gave us whisky and some nice conversation before they said their own grace. Then we went to other neighbors. Note. We'd long finished, and the large family next to us were also completely done.
When we stopped into the R sukkah, they were just starting on their gefilte fish. And were quite ready to give us place settings and feed us an entire second meal. We declined and just drank diet caffeine free Coke. (We weren't hungry, but also. She's not the world's greatest cook, and has too heavy a hand with the salt.) But we did sit there the entire meal and chat. It was their seven year old's birthday, and they'd gotten her a sunflower cake, which we'd also had to decline because of the sugar. Still. We had a wonderful time - we stayed there for a good two hours or more, although we left before *they* said their grace.
And thus to bed. Next day, we went to synagogue. As it was Shabbat, we didn't wave the lulav and etrog, but it was otherwise the holiday davening, and the rabbi had a fascinating speech. And then we went to our friends the Fs for lunch. These are the people we'd just hosted for R"H. And it was lovely. More chat, often about Lois McMaster Bujold and Patrick O'Brien, and just the shared history we have with this family. Went home and took naps because after dark we were going to *another* house for dinner.
Holidays are a very social time, and Sukkot is the most social of them all.
This time it was to another family named "R" - in this case, Jonathan's Talmud teacher. It's become a tradition for them to invite us to a Sukkot meal. Again, it was just lovely. They have wellbehaved kids and she's a wonderful cook (and it was dairy so we had fish *and* I got milk in my afterdinner coffee.) And on the way, I met an old friend and we just got caught up, which is always fun.
Today was lulav and etrog day. And it rained. When it rains, you aren't even allowed to eat in the sukkah, so we were worried, as we'd invited a friend for lunch - today is Jonathan's birthday. Both of his birthdays - Hebrew and English. So the Hebrew is now over, but the Gregorian remains for another 90 minutes as I write.
And an interesting thing happened. Part of the service for Sukkot is the "Hoshana" circuits, where the men, holding their four species (the citron,and the palm branch, the willow branches and the myrtle branches in one three-part holder) march around the bimah, the desk and a man holding a Torah scroll, singing a supplicatory song. Hoshana (the root of Hosana) means, "Save us, please."
The women don't have a bimah. Or a Torah scroll. Most don't bother with having their own lulav and etrog, making the brachot on their husband's. It's just that it's not required, and they are expensive.
I do get my own. I have for years. And what I did in my old synagogue, when I'd be the only woman with them, was stand there and sing along holding the species. When we moved, the new synagogue was in a different place, and those of us with plants marched around a long table. We're in a new space now and there's nothing to march around, so we went randomly, and it just felt silly. As G asked me, "What were the women marching around?"
Next year, I think I'll just stand there during the hoshanas. Holding my four species. :)
Lunch was tuna salad, lamb chops, green beans and store-bought noodle kugel. And it had stopped raining by the time shul was over, so all we had to do was dry things off. My landlady wasn't so lucky - the wind not only moved her entire sukkah several feet, one of the bamboo mats that served as her s'gach was pushed off by the other one, leaving her with a sukkah that was only half covered. Our own was tied down, so even though it moved a bit and even dipped, and one of our decorations fell down, we were okay.
But S had guests over, and only half a sukkah. And it's forbidden to touch the s'gach or any decorations or to replace the fallen mat (or even touch it), so she had to deal. She eventually just had the men sit there while she served the women inside. Again, women are not required to eat in the sukkah.
And then Jonathan and Z learned for a bit and Z went home and it was *naptime*. :)
And I'm getting - well, I like the holidays in theory and in practice, but the endless procession of cooking and building and cleaning and the expense and the food and the longer prayer services and the socializing and...
I want my weekends back. I want a Sunday to just decompress.
One more week.