I hosted a family friendly Tu B’Shevat Seder yesterday and as I was researching some different Haggodot and ideas to include in my gathering, I came across a tree horoscope sponsored by JNF. In this activity different types of trees are represented according to your birth date and the descriptions of the tree relate to your personality. This was fun to look at the holiday and it inspired me to think about how people are like trees and what trees can teach us. As Tu B’Shevat is often referred to as the birthday of the trees, let’s take time to reflect and celebrate the trees.
As trees have firm roots and are solidly connected to the Earth, they experience a yearly lifecycle where they endure the cold in the winter and they blossom again in spring. If only trees could share all of the experiences that surrounded them, imagine what a story they could tell.
Throughout my childhood, I had a hard time establishing roots and figuring out where I belonged. My family moved around a lot and my first memory of relocating was leaving my calico “Holly Hobby” character bedroom curtains behind. This had been my first big girl bedroom and I had some sentimental feelings saying goodbye to them. Though we never moved a great distance, it was hard to feel a sense of consistency.
What would I be leaving behind next? Sometimes it was the lake I loved to take long walks with my dog or the nearby pizza shop my family liked. After attending Jewish day school for eight years, I attended a public middle school. This was a culture shock and it took time to learn how to fit in with this new crowd. I knew I would never be popular, but the friendships I had were unconditional. I have special memories of the adventures we shared.
While change is not always easy, what remained solid for me was my mother’s love and my faith in Judaism. I also grew so much through my encounters. I remember my P.E. teacher in high school saying to me in the hallway, “You are beginning to blossom!”
A tree also provides us with shade and a place to rest and security. As a parent I want my children to feel safe and protected. We cannot shield them from pain, but we can love them and listen to them. During our last move, my kids asked if this relocation was our “forever” house. While we could not guarantee that, they would always be with their family. When their grandma passed away the life they had known became even shakier. My children were so attached to my mom and she was such a big part of their life. We encourage them to share their feelings and memories. Just like the tree we have each other’s support and we can grow again and bear new fruit. The memories and experiences we share is what keeps us rooted and belonging.
Sharon just moved to Lafayette and loves being closer to the mountains and enjoys the community. She is a mom in her 40’s of almost 6 year old twins who is going back to teaching preschool after being a stay at home. Her family loves finding ways to celebrate our Judaism in song, food and prayer with our family and friends.