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(Succos in Parentheses)

Once upon a time, there was a little succah

IN a charming little hut down a quaint dirt road (not dirt from spilled bowls of salad, obviously, only the dusty dirt that leads to charming little huts with sechach-thatched roofs) lived a nice family with loving parents and sweet children.

(Okay, so it wasn’t really a road. It was more like a long, narrow alley between two houses that led to a somewhat-less-narrow enclave at the end of a scooter-littered path, but that wouldn’t make the succah any less charming, would it? Narrower, maybe. The parents were definitely loving — tough loving when necessary — and the children were definitely sweet and sometimes they were even fresh. After-the-bath kind of fresh, naturally, when you can’t help but tough-love ’em.)

The walls of the hut were adorned with charming wall hangings, most of which were created by the patient, talented, and nimble fingers of the mother and her sweet children. Only some of them had paint streaks (and tear streaks, and actual tears…) and cracks and missing beads/pearls/leaves/sticks/many-other-things-that-the-mother-never-merited-to-see-but-believes-that-the-kid-did, and Mod Podge, and various materials that were intended to resemble lemons and fronds.

There was also the miniature succah created by an uber-talented first-year second grade teacher who would be scandalized as well as afraid for her reputation (and job) should she send home a decoration that looked like a second grader made it.

AS the weather turned nippy, the sweet family prepared to spend many long and lovely hours together in their charming little hut. They harvested fruit (made 18 trips to the supermarket, then another 35 for just one missing ingredient), baked many cakes (and cookies and pies and kugels and more kugels), prepared hearty broths (put up multiple 16-quart pots of chicken soup), and started some starter (baked a dozen batches of challah).

While the mother stirred porridge (or maybe it was stuffed cabbage, it was hard to keep track) in a large (stainless steel, not copper) pot (but with the same content smile, so it doesn’t matter), the father of this lovely brood busied himself with securing the charming hut for the approaching holiday.

He climbed and he crawled and he tied and he twisted (rope, and also his foot), and he banged (and drilled, mainly, when he wasn’t running to the hardware store for that thing that connects to that thing that holds up that thing). At last, he banged the last nail (and thumb), knotted the last rope, thatched the last thatch, hung the last lantern (pulled the last extension cord, to connect the light to the Shabbos clock, which he didn’t notice had a.m and p.m mixed up), and declared the hut complete.

The next day, as the sun was setting (after the mother frantically dabbed on lipstick and doused her face with setting spray so at least some of her makeup would stay on past the first holiday meal), the nice family piled into their charming little hut and (without a word of complaint about how squishy it was and that I reserved the new novel for First Days, MA, TELL HER!) watched as the mother struck a match and lit the candles, softly whispering tearful (but not too tearful so as not to ruin her mascara) prayers to the One Above, thanking Him for bringing her to this moment (of joy and celebration, obviously, not the moment when she could collapse on the couch and finally sleep, please).

At last, it was time for dinner.

All the children sat back in their seats, neckerchiefs (already dirty from who-knows-what) neatly tied around their necks. The father recited a blessing over sweet wine (leaving sweet red stains on the pristine white tablecloth that only the mother noticed). The mother brought in trays of mouthwatering food (that almost everyone ate at least some of, especially dessert). They sang (and didn’t fight, obviously) and conversed and rejoiced.

Just then, a little breeze happened to pass by. It knocked on the door of the charming little hut and said: Lovely family! Lovely family! Let me in! Let me in!

But the lovely family felt the breeze’s chill and answered back: No! No! No! Not when we host Ushpizin!

But the breeze so badly wanted a portion of the delicious dessert. So it rustled the leaves outside and said: Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your hut down.

The breeze picked up speed, turning into a little wind. The little wind turned into a big wind, a big wind with little raindrops. Let me in! Let me in!

Through the cracks in the sechach, the father saw branches flying. He looked up through the chimney (and the fluttering pineapple and slightly soggy paper chains) and saw some big, big raindrops licking their lips in anticipation of dessert.

The wind huffed and puffed, puffed and huffed, making the small hut sway and the little children tremble (and scream and howl and shriek and run to protect their teachers’ beautiful decorations).

But as the first drop tried to make its way in, the father reached for his big stick (shlock-pole-thingie), aimed it menacingly at the rain (frantically turned and rolled and said, “Nu, nu, nu, I got it, no, here, help me, no, move away, there!”).

Down fell the rain (quickly filling a pool in the shlock, which made the sechach sag and the kids scream once again). The wind huffed and puffed, puffed and huffed.

Then suddenly, it became still, the rain stopped (and the father and his boys insisted on sleeping in the succah since it wasn’t raining anymore)... and they all lived sopping-ly ever after.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 813)

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