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.