Well, I survived. I deserve a t-shirt.
Unfortunately, my mind is still a little ferblungered, and thus my musings are not quite so on par.
Though, in all actuality, I should not jest too much. I could be verging on sacrilegious, something I’m still not overtly comfortable with. Regardless, I enjoyed myself. I feel refreshed after pouring my soul out like water before Hashem, as the prophet Jeremiah once lamented.
And now, it’s time to feast!
Seriously, though, besides Chanukkah (yes, that’s the correctly transliteration, and I can grammatically explain why), which is an extremely close second if not first — this is my favourite time of the year.
I thoroughly enjoy the month of Tishri, the preparations leading up to Rosh Hashanah throughout the month of Elul, the intensity of the focus of our hearts as we enter the New Year, how it climaxes on Yom Kippur as we petition the courts of heaven before the Book of Life is closed for another year, and then how it all culminates in the joyous celebrations of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah.
As an American, I also enjoy how this religious season correlates with our autumn.
I’m a very torn individual over which season is my favourite, whether autumn or winter. (If you could see my apartment, you’d say it’s autumn.) I love the colours of the changing leaves, especially now that I live in a state where they actually change and last for a few weeks before falling off, unlike in my native Texas where they simply turn brown and dump off the branches within a day. I love the cider and the pumpkins and the growing chill in the air and eating endless pots of soup or chili and the scarves and sweaters. I love the coziness.
To me, winter just feels like autumn at its height and glory, consummated in snow.
I love snow. I also love that the world has grown dark, quiet, and cold. I love the darkness, how we contrastingly celebrate a Festival of Lights (Chanukkah), a reminder that all one has to do in such times of darkness, is turn on the Light.
That’s why I can’t choose my favourite between the two. Not only are the seasonal traditions superb, but the symbolism and correlation with my religious observances make them all the more pleasurable.
For example, October has just begun, one of the best months of the year. To celebrate, my sister and I will be having film marathons of all the best spoopy material we deem worthy of the term. Films like a Lord of the Rings and Hobbit marathon one weekend, a few of the Harry Potter films another, Clue starring Tim Curry (if you haven’t seen it, watch it now), and more. Of course, this year, our personal spoopy celebrations will be topped off with season two of Stranger Things. I cannot wait.
Additionally, in a few days, I’ll be stuffing my face with the best vegetarian chili, ever, in a handcrafted sukkah surrounded by friends as the chilled air gently flows through the slits in the wood, staring up at the stars above me wrapped in a cozy blanket. There is nothing sweeter than such blessed fellowship.
And then, in a few months time, it will happen again, only instead I’ll be indoors illuminated by the glowing candles’ lights by a roaring fireplace feasting on latkes watching Love Actually or something similar. (We seriously need a good Chanukkah film, though.)
Thus, what I should say is this journey is my favourite.
And it doesn’t end with Chanukkah. It keeps going and going, with the other holidays, repeating itself annually, with each year deepening and growing the experiences. I enjoy them all. There’s just something special about this season. I’m not sure what. Of course it’s personal preference, but why?
Why do I prefer this time? What is it about autumn and Sukkot, and then winter and Chanukkah, I enjoy best? Perhaps it is the childhood memories I bring with me, the nostalgia. Perhaps it is the weather and seasonal attire. Perhaps it is the food. Perhaps it’s the poignancy of the season, of how my whole being aches with longing for eternity as I’m reminded of my frail humanity. Perhaps it is the feeling that the world slows down a bit, like a relaxed sigh, before spinning at full speed again.
Whatever the reasons, I hope as we all enter into this festival season, no matter our affiliations, we each find the time to relax and enjoy life. There is nothing sweeter.