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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Holiday of Our Joy

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

What if they gave a holiday and called it the "holiday of our joy"

What if all they asked of you, a city person, a person with two left hands, to build

a flimsy structure of sticks or wood,

And asked you, of all people, to complete that structure with a roof of branches

Hunting with your saw at the cusp of evening for maple or pine or oak?

Dragging them down your street, yellow pine needles leaving a path behind you

Your clumsy structure whose walls are old pink and purple bedsheets or flowered tablecloths

A structure that dances with the wind, bejeweled with pine cones

And the warm autumn sun slants down from between the branches overhead

What if they gave a holiday and called it the "holiday of our joy"

And asked you to sit it that structure

To eat in that structure, to speak, to study,

To take your children by the hand and sleep in that structure

Your kids dragging sleeping bags onto the floor which is littered with crumbs

Shimmying in, shoulder to shoulder, pajama to pajama

And what if the air was electric with excitement

Your children staring up at the stars between the branches

Eyes wide open, smiling lips, fingers pointing upwards

"I can see the moon!"

What if they gave a holiday and called it the "holiday of our joy"

and asked you to sit with your people in this structure called a sukkah

To offer your mushroom barley soup and the challah you struggled to perfect

To offer others the chance to sit under your cranberried canopy

which you have created with your hands, even as it droops slightly to the left

That structure where you have shared food with the bees,

who came uninvited and stayed until well after dessert

And what if in that sukkah where you have sat with your people and talked

an endless cloud of stories rising under the crown of filagreed branches

In this miraculous sukkah of simplicity and joy

What if they gave a holiday and called it the "holiday of our joy"

And the memories that were made in that sukkah lasted forever

You taste the soup and look at your children's smiling eyes

You taste the challah and think of your grandparents

With each sip of wine that you share with your friends

You sip the wisdom from your guests and have a taste of their lives

You feel the cool air on your face and know in your heart just what joy is

You sit in the drizzle and your hair gets wet but you don't want to move

You sit in this Sukkah, which you built with your own hands, so imperfect, like each of us

Yet only through this holy imperfection can we view the light of the stars.

Happiness is from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown

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