“The chagim were so relaxing,” said no one in The Jewish Link office, especially those who hosted families with babies for all or most of Sukkot. In an email discussion/therapy session, several of us weighed in about how we made it through the holiday. “In my home, we had many priceless moments: great meals shared with an expanding family of adult children and their spouses and now, our beautiful grandchildren. We savored the time together, enclosed in our fragile and vulnerable sukkah cocoon, with a window to watch the colored leaves fall, and a soundtrack of many neighbors davening, singing and schmoozing,” shared one of our writers.
But getting to those moments was exhausting and often stressful. “While our family has expanded, our home has not,” said one co-worker. “Musical beds was not a fun game for us but became a lesson in family compromise for the sake of everyone’s shalom bayit.” Although the ability to cook on Yom Tov takes away some of the rush of pre-chag work, the price was a never-ending marathon of shopping, preparing, serving, eating and cleaning.
While visiting babies and toddlers required space, monitoring and a variety of crunchy, fruity, sweet and salty snacks, one staffer with a house full of teens and their friends needed real food—and lots of it. “I had three crockpots going all of all Yom Tov, plus cooking,” she said. “Cholent, chili and meatballs are my standards.” The warmth of the holiday must have really permeated that kitchen. You may have to turn down the thermostat just thinking about it.
Another co-worker raced to keep up with the culinary needs of her growing family, where every picky kid eats only one type of protein and none will even consider eating the same thing as one another, with some “normal” lunch guests thrown in for fun. “So my house was like a 24-hour diner that constantly ran out of things and I had to keep baking challah and cooking meals in small batches every three days. I did my prep, then went to every store during Chol Hamoed and then all my stores again for restocking this past Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Shoprite, Trader Joe’s and Cedar Market now have all my $$$,” she joked.
“I have blissful memories of the chagim we spent in Israel, where we went when our kids spent their post-high school years learning there,” someone commented. “We rented apartments with plenty of space and I let purveyors of take-out meals and pre-paid restaurants do most of the cooking. And with many of our friends visiting as well, we had more invitations for meals in Israel than at home.”
Celebrating at home has its own rewards, though, and a much lower cost. Especially for those who have grandchildren in the mix. But if any budding entrepreneur can design a portable sukkah-like dwelling with two bedrooms and heat, that can be attached to any home to accommodate full families of overnight guests with babies, we have a few customers.
And perhaps someone can invent beautiful platters of food with AI learning that automatically refill to everyone’s specifications whenever they are emptied.
Shana Tova to all our readers!
By JLNJ Features Staff