I saw this headline about pre-fab sukkahs in The Times this morning and I had, in no particular order, intense waves of nostalgia and frustration, disdain and envy. A pleasant way to start the day, no?
Growing up, we always had a sukkah in our backyard, and we always took sukkoth seriously. It was easy to do both. For the sukkah, my dad had the same two big pieces of wood that he'd put together and he'd prop them up against the corner of our house and fence. Kind of prefab, right? And I went to a Jewish school, so we always had the holiday off. Sukkoth was fun. I mean really fun. We got the etrog, which is a funny lemon, and the lulav, which is a palm frond with myrtle and something else, and we'd shake and smell them every day. The holiday service had a special section and I loved all the songs in it. We ate all of our meals in the sukkah, even at school. (The holiday lasts 8 days if you don't live in Israel, 7 if you do.) Then there were the decorations: popcorn and cranberry chains, construction paper chains, paper snowflakes (why not?) -- it was all so, you know, home made.
So you see why I got nostalgic and why, when seeing the pictures of the sleek prefab sukkahs you can order online, I was all those other things. Because now it's like we can just buy a really cool version of our childhood memories. It's sleeker! It's easier! It's designier! I looked at those and I thought, "Wow a sukkah is fun; I don't want a designier sukkah or do I want a designier sukkah? Will my sukkah when I have one be designier than my neighbors?" Or: The King is Dead, Long Live the King!
Sure, if and when we again live in a house with a backyard, we can make any kind of sukkah we want, should we choose to have a sukkah. It can be prefab sleek or prefab tied together with yarn, whatever we choose. I guess it's good to have the choice. But I kind of wish it weren't there, the choice. I kind of wish my adult version of things I did as a kid were just my version and that the buying wasn't an option. I know the sukkah kit would make our life really easy, and frankly we'd probably get one and decorate it with construction paper chains and it'd be fine and my kids would look back on it and think it was quaint and sweet because their sukkahs are so much more deisgnier and sleeker. I guess that's not the worst thing that could happen. I guess as long as there's no Matha Stewart-Real Simple Sukkah we'll all be just fine.