I've been meaning to write a kind of 'chanukah reflections - year 2' post. i guess i am a little late. i won't take up much of your time.
It's interesting to see how much year 2 is different to year 1. on the whole, better. 300% better. And it makes year 2 stand out in its own way, since at every landmark on the path of time, we're remembering how it felt this time last year, and feeling thankful that we no longer feel that way any more.
Sometimes, as i walk down the street to pick up yc from school, and i gaze across at the undeniably Judean hills that march across the horizon, and pick out the site of an biblical canaanite kingdom in the distance, and reflect that i really am living here, walking one-two-three-mitzvah! on holy soil, and i feel the need to pinch myself. So many years i wished i was here, i asked Hashem why i couldn;t be doing exactly what i am doing now, and it's hard to believe that it really happened. is happening, every minute.
and yet sometimes, i take it all for granted. sometimes i am just living my life, cooking dinner, helping with homework, doing the shopping, working, looking after my children, and i just somehow slip between the moments of wonder without quite touching them. and i pull myself up and ask how i just went past that vista, the view i love the best from ramat aleph, where, on a clear day, i can see ashdod, and yet today i just went past without noticing. and i am so grateful for that, too. i am so grateful that living in the holy land can feel so normal. so much like real life. and that i can get so accustomed to it (although i do try to live more mindfully).
some moments are still full of wonder. when our daughter has no qualms about picking up the phone to call an israeli friend to arrange a playdate in ivrit. when i realise that our children sat down and did their homework in ivrit in a reasonable amount of time, and that i didn;t once have to translate a question. when i remember that this day a year ago, there were tears and fears that we would never understand and never feel at home. when it's a cloudy day and i think, hang on, the sun's not shining, that's really unusual. i still find it exciting when the buses say 'shabbat shalom' or 'chag sameach'.
some things are so so special about living here, and many of them are not the things i thought would be, or even was aware of, when we made aliyah.
i love that our children are in school with children who speak russian, ethiopian (amharic), french, spanish, english, or hebrew at home, but they are all israelis together in school and play together in ivrit.
i love that if i forget to take maaser from our home-grown fruits before shabbat, we will have to spend 25 hours looking regretfully at the mound of clementinas that we can't eat.
because i come from a country with very few towns with sizeable jewish communities, i love that even small villages can have shuls, mikvaot, kosher stores, and orthodox jews.
i love having major archaeological finds made almost on my doorstep.
i love how astonishingly, blurringly fast plants grow here, so that i haven;t yet slipped into the rhythm of when to expect to see fruits and vegetables in the shops (whoever heard of strawberries being ripe in december? wimbledon hasn;t even begun yet!).
i also, because i have friends from so many different points in my life and quite a few different countries, love that so many dropped threads and old friendships can be picked up again here, now that we are in the same country again.
i love the small things that remind me that we are all jews together keeping the same (or very similar) minhagim, like that the local supermarkets not only had special offers on oil and candles and potatoes before chanukah, but also on icing sugar, jam, and super-absorbent kitchen towels.
i love that the shop assistants chide my daughter not to suck her thumb, because we are all one family, after all.
and so, we move on to the next stage of aliyah. that of living life, the same as ever before, but this time in the right place. we move slowly into finding a new balance between wonder & excitement, and routine & the common-place. because we are no longer tourists or olim chadashim, pointing excitedly at every israeli experience. but we are & always yehudim, who are so grateful that we are blessed to live in our own holy land that we try to hold on to that wide-eyed, fresh-off-the-boat astonishment that all this could be real.