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Nov 2 2012

Friday Night: Shabbat is a Feeling, Not a Routine

By at 1:41 pm

empty hotel roomDriving past towns and daylight and whining, we make our way to my husband’s home town.

I note the sun setting in slices against open fields. Miles of blues and oranges blending together above corn and cows and red tinted barns as Friday makes its way into Saturday.

The kids are immersed in their movie, and we’re just a titch beyond pointing out the animals, the fields, the memories that make this road trip something different.

We haven’t been here for years. But today we drive into town, and tomorrow we’ll visit my husband’s sick grandfather.

We’ve prepared the kids in the best way we know how. He’s sick, this is a nice chance to see him, to be kind, to take photos. We sandwich the hard with the soft of family.

In the too late hours that we will regret in the morning, I read to my girls laying on our stomachs on the hard hotel bed. My legs are crossed at the ankles, my daughters’ mirror mine.

We’ve had our fill of pizza and swimming and bubble baths and movies and candy and popcorn popped in the tiny room microwave. And now, as our lids heavy, we squeeze in one more moment of together.

I close the book, lay it down, take them in. They’re clean and pajamaed and happy–my favorite way. The girls, in their very own bed, curl into sleep, forming butterfly wings with their bodies. But my son, Brody, curls into me.

“Was this Shabbat?” he asks.

I pause, breathing in his shock of blond hair, the melon scented hotel shampoo, his tiny fingers laced with mine, and his question. Of course, his question.

“I guess it was.” I start. Kayli’s voice weaves over both of ours. “No challah, no juice, not Shabbat.”

Oh how quickly we fall into sharpie line boarders, rules, requirements. Shabbat’s relics are worn and familiar in our home. Candles lit, wine sipped, challah eaten. But that’s not what makes Shabbat, is it?

It’s the essence of together, of family. Separating out the rest of the week. Unplugging. Focusing inward. Cozying up. Being with those that take up the most space in our hearts.

Brody, at 4, without years of practicing rules and routine, knows this. And in every fiber of my own being, I know it, too. And this is exactly what I want to pass onto my children.

Shabbat is a feeling.

One that I’m proud to say that we did, indeed, honor and celebrate last Friday night in a hotel room in a small midwestern town with pizza and root beer and more than our share of Reese’s Pieces.

What makes Shabbat for you? How do you pass it on to your your children?


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