"You shall celebrate the Feast of Booths seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat; and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns. Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful." -- Deuteronomy 16:13-15
Every year, around the beginning of Autumn, is the Festival of Sukkot, or Feast of Booths. This is a time of remembrance, thanksgiving and celebration, when the tribes of Israel were commanded to remember that the Lord brought them through the wilderness and their clothes and tents did not wear out and He provided them with food daily. For 8 days, we are supposed to celebrate with feasts and gatherings of friends. One tradition is to build a "sukkah" or temporary shelter and eat your meals, if not live, in it for the whole festival.
Something our family does as part of Sukkot is to celebrate the birth of Messiah. According to a number of scholars, this is the most likely time of year that Jesus was actually born rather than in December. As part of that, we decorated our Sukkah with a bunch of ornaments and a star. Olivia was so excited to get to place the star on its post. :) At home, we baked a cake and made a banner to celebrate Jesus's birthday. In what has become a tradition in our home, we put up our Nativity the night before Sukkot began. We do not, however, put out the wise men until later because we know from the book of Matthew that they didn't arrive until Jesus was older, possibly as old as 2 years. We also sang traditional hyms of the season, which pleased the kids to no end. They just love celebrating our Messiah's birth! :)
We decided this year to camp out at Hagan-Stone Park in Pleasant Garden. It's our first time camping as a family since before Ezra was born and we had a really fun time. We bought a new tent, since ours was too small for the six of us and our other plan was to set up 3 or 4 small tents. Without going into the whole story (I could write a book!), we wound up driving all over creation to get the right tent and didn't get to set up our site until almost midnight! The kids were real troopers, enduring chilly nights, pouring rains (just the first 2 days), vicious mosquitoes (thank God for citronella) and aggressively hungry Yellow Jackets. We actually wound up making a de facto offering to the wasps to keep them away from the table and, surprisingly, it worked!... Mostly. One nice bonus was that Olivia and I have been studying insects, so we got to really observe the Yellow Jackets up close. Olivia even had one land on her thumb, which was covered in sugar from dried fruit! She got to watch it walk around "licking" the sugar from her finger.
Hagan-Stone is a wonderful park with playgrounds and hiking trails. We camped in a huge group camping site so that we could spread out and have room to build our sukkah. We even had our friends come out almost every night to share a meal, fire and roast marshmallows.
|Gabe took a dive and got a mouthful of mud.|
|The kids sitting in the sukkah frame. They were huge helpers, getting me screws and holding the wood for me.|
|When we decorated the sukkah, Olivia got to put the last decoration on: a star.|
|Our finished sukkah and the decorations.|
|Olivia strung the beads and the fruit below.|
|We certainly made the best of our camp site. All-in-all, it was rather comfortable.|
|Our portable "condo". If you want a great tent, get the 16x16 Ozark Trail 3-room, 12-person tent. I set it up by myself in the rain and dark in about an hour.|
|Our daily offering to the Yellow Jackets.|
|They certainly like applesauce...|
|One of the joys of camping is the confusion that often occurs when people are sharing living space. Olivia got dressed that morning in a pair of capri pants that turned out to be Gabe's carpenter jeans.|