Miniature Sukkah

As a result of the coronavirus, the family dollhouse has become my most treasured possession.

I’ve spent the past six months quarantined with my husband. And were it not for the dollhouse, I’m not sure I would have kept my sanity.

It’s not the dollhouse itself that gives me comfort and stability; it’s the family and friends I’ve created within it.

Over the past 30 weeks, I’ve significantly upgraded their digs by removing a staircase, two walls, and some old flooring. I’ve installed carpeting and wallpaper, and I went a little crazy with lighting. Cha-ching.

My make-believe family and friends don’t have any last names, but they all have first names. And there is no fighting allowed. Everyone gets along, and I insisted that they have no political stance. However, I did insist that they had access to masks.

I needed my dollhouse people to be free of drama and conflict. I couldn’t bear for them to be disagreeable. I needed plain old stable, kind, and caring folks who look after each other.

I didn’t focus on their religion at all. I was born Greek Orthodox, baptized Catholic at five, and converted to Judaism at 30, so I don’t care what my dollhouse peeps believe in as long as they keep the peace.

Every year, coinciding with the first full moon of the fall season, I build a sukkah for the Jewish festival of Sukkot—a homage to the 40 years of wandering in the desert.

The sukkah, a house that is open to the world, is a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long holiday. As is the fragility of our lives, the sukkah walls are flimsy, and there’s no roof.

Eating, congregating, and even sleeping under the stars in a sukkah are meant to remind Jews of the vulnerability of life and the fleeting nature of their existence.

Fragile, fleeting, and vulnerable. That’s how I’ve been feeling lately.

During Sukkot, I invite friends and family over for sukkah parties where we schmooze and recall the precarious existence of the Israelites as they wandered on their desert journey, full of danger, disease, and uncertainty.

The biblical book read in honor of Sukkot is the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes.

The sentiments expressed in Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 were used in the well-known Byrd’s song from the 1960s: “To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn – and a time to every purpose under heaven.”

Every year, the sukkah helps me to not only get in touch with the outdoors but to let go of the meaningless and to focus on the beauty and purpose of my life—even if it’s only for one cold, crisp week.

But this year, I knew I couldn’t build my sukkah. And it depressed me terribly to acknowledge that I would have to forgo constructing the safe and mellow space that always brought me such peace, quiet, and tranquility.

And even though it was a huge undertaking to build and decorate the sukkah for just one week of use, I always found such happiness and pleasure in the social aspect.

The hardest thing to accept about Covid-19 is that it denies me access to my most treasured resource and comfort; my beloved family and friends.

So, I thought, why not build a dollhouse sukkah so that my make-believe friends and family can shelter in place?

And build it, I did—a sacred, welcoming space, and a place full of warmth, companionship, strength, courage, and healing.

“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

As I built my dollhouse sukkah, I tried to recreate my actual sukkah. And as I cut and glued and stapled, I thought nonstop about the vulnerabilities of life, the importance of family and friends, and the resilience of the human spirit.


And I have to say; it was restorative, uplifting, and valuably therapeutic.

And the most perfect replica of my wished reality.

This blog post is dedicated to my beautiful friend Ann who died 3/28/20 at 65 years young. RIP my dear Annie Pannie.

Along Came a Spider — Ew

Little Miss Dollhouse Muffet

Sat on her mattress tuffet,

Reading and whiling her pandemic time away;

Along came a spider,

Who sat down beside her,

And frightened Miss Muffet and Teri away.

The End.

My Coronavirus Dollhouse

Back in 1975, my baby sister got a dollhouse for Christmas.

It was a classic white clapboard house with a black shingled roof and black shutters. It had eight good size rooms and was a replica of the house she lived in, so I dubbed it “The Blind Brook House.”

I was a Delta flight attendant, living in Miami at the time, but thirteen hundred miles didn’t stop me from being obsessed with all things dollhouse. That Christmas, I spent a fortune on furniture for Blind Brook and spent countless hours helping my sister set it all up.

I loved that dollhouse more than she did, and for whatever reason, it never caught her attention. By the following Christmas, it was relegated to the attic, where it languished for sixteen years.

In 1991, when the attic got cleaned out, the house was rediscovered, and I became the proud owner of the Blind Brook homestead.

The dollhouse was dirty and cobwebby and needed a paint job.  My daughter was three years old at the time, and I figured she would love it. But like my sister, she didn’t have much of an interest in it at all.

Ironically, it was my seven-year-old son who loved Blind Brook. He helped me paint, carpet, and install stairs. We cleaned off all the furniture and set up the rooms according to his layout.

Soon after, my son lost interest in the dollhouse. So once again, it ended up in an attic—this time mine.

When we moved in 1996, the dollhouse was yet again rediscovered.

I wasn’t sure where we would put it, or if we even had room for it, but there was never a doubt in my mind that the Blind Brook house was coming with me.

At the time I dusted it off, and even though it needed a paint job, no one was interested in working on it with me, so I stuck it on a table in my daughter’s room with the front of the house facing forward, and we all forgot about it.

In 2017, my two granddaughters discovered the house and asked me what was behind the front door.

They were obsessed with it and wanted me to turn it around so they could see it from the back. I had all but forgotten that the house was full of furniture, and they loved it.

My oldest granddaughter wanted to know where the family was. Had they gone out? What did they look like? How many were there? Was there a cat?

Family? Cat?

I’m not sure why, but Blind Brook never had a family in it. Or any pets.

The strangest part is that I never even noticed the house was without a family, nor did anyone ever ask for one.

But my precious granddaughter wanted a family in that house, so I ordered one online—a mom, a dad, a little boy, a little girl, and a newborn baby.

The next time my granddaughter played with the house, she asked for a cat. So, I ordered a kitten. And a dog.

Fast forward to January 2020, when my husband and I bought her a dollhouse of her own. And she insisted that I buy her the exact family I had in my dollhouse. And of course, a cat of her own. And a kitty.

I was so looking forward to playing dollhouse with her. But then life changed, and all we could do was Zoom.

I began to look at Blind Brook from a whole other perspective. I was in quarantine, and so was my Blind Brook family.

As news of the virus got worse, I pulled out walls, and the staircase, to make larger rooms so that more people could fit into them.

While ordering corona supplies on Amazon, I threw in a miniature television and water cooler for my dollhouse. I wasn’t able to find real-people toilet paper, so I ordered lots and lots of miniature toilet paper instead.

Then the coronavirus spiraled out of control and took my Aunt Mary.

She was buried on my birthday.

I went online and ordered more people—an aunt, an uncle, three babies, and a girl cousin.

My Blind Brook family didn’t have to worry about ventilators, masks, or the lack of federal government leadership.

As I listened to the grimmest of reports day in and day out, I would take a daily reprieve from reality. With scissors, glue, and tape in hand, I went into fantasy mode.

I couldn’t do anything about the horrors outside my house, but I was in complete control of Blind Brook.

I added lighting and wallpaper, flooring, books, a dining room table, dishes, sandwiches, a menorah, bowls of tomato soup, and some beer on ice.

I tried to stay away from the news and binged on Dead To Me. By the time I finished Season Two, we were at 100,000 dead.

What could I do? What could I do to take control?

I put my dollhouse-sized Teri doppelganger in the Blind Brook television room and invited my friend, Robin, and my sister G for some wine, cheese, and potato chips. I sat back with Robin and we watched Dead To Me together, side by side, while my animal-loving sis played with the kitten.

But the lonely would not go away.

so I went for a bike ride and wore a mask, but I couldn’t breathe.

Build a fire. Think happy thoughts.

And then came the murder of George Floyd. He couldn’t breathe either.

But not because of some stupid mask.

I shut down and drank too much wine.

I installed windows in every Blind Brook room to let in the light, and I bought a kitchen clock and a grandma and grandpa.

As the protests raged, I sat on the floor, staring at my therapeutical masterpiece.

I noticed that the clock on the wall was set for 8:18. Or was it 8:17?

At 1:12 scale, it was near impossible to decipher the exact time. I wanted it to be 8:18. For anyone who knows me, 18 is my go-to number.

When I messengered a friend about the systemic pandemic within a pandemic and my thoughts on 8:18 vs. 8:17, she quoted Luke 8:17:

“For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

That’s when I decided to pull myself together. I reminded myself that I had come out the other end of a lot of bad stuff.

I was a warrior.

Covid-19 wasn’t going to be the straw that broke my back.

So, I added another six women, two men, a dog, a birdhouse, and a teenage girl who’s still on backorder along with my real-people toilet paper.

It finally felt like enough.

Blind Brook was full of family and friends. Lots of togetherness despite my fourteen weeks in isolated quarantine.

My sister Georgette thinks my dollhouse needs its own Instagram account.

I love Blind Brook, but I’m ready for a real life again.