Friday Night Lights
I absolutely love Friday night! Friday morning, that’s okay, too. Friday afternoon, not so much.
Friday morning is nice and relaxing. I get up in my own sweet time, no need to rush to work, to the gym, to get kids ready for school. I have a cup of coffee and then I’m ready to start my day. I set up the challah, giving it time to rise. Friday mornings I take my time in the kitchen, sometimes I even go and meet a friend for brunch.
Friday afternoons are better known as Headless Chicken Time. If I had it my way (which I don’t), I would do the week’s shopping on Wednesday night, cook a little for Shabbat on Thursday night, and just finish things up on Friday. The house should be clean and shining, I should be clean and shining, and everything would be calm as I light the Shabbat candles.
But it’s doesn’t happen that way.
Ever hear of this saying? A man marries a woman hoping she won’t change, and she does. A woman marries a man hoping to change him, and he won’t.
I married Ju-Boy hoping to change one of his (in my opinion) bad habits. He likes to go shopping for Shabbat on Friday afternoon. As in just a few hours before Shabbat. Totally freaks me out. We go together, because if he went alone he would come home with vegetables, fruit and some canned pickles. If I went alone I would come home with some chocolate, cheese and some more chocolate. Together we are the perfect shopping couple, we cover all the bases.
So Friday afternoon we rush home from the supermarket, jostle for space along the counter, at the stove, in the oven. Ju-Boy is blow-torching the beef while I take a moment to calm down and iron (I never thought ironing would be a calming experience, until Headless Chicken Fridays became part of my life). Then it’s parents, children, even a guest or two all vying over one tank of hot water and two shower stalls. And then, finally, it’s time to light the candles, and all is calm. No matter the season, whether Shabbat comes in early during the winter or well into the evening in the summer, you are always ready at the last minute. Ju-Boy goes off to shul for some quoruming with God, and I have my own conversation with the Big Guy on my living room couch. He understands snoring, doesn’t He?
Then comes my favorite part of Friday night. Family and guests gather around the table, we make kiddish over the wine, we pass judgement over this week’s batch of challah and then we dive into the soup course. The kids help bring the myriad of dishes to the table, and then help clear the table (this can take a bit of cajoling). Sometimes we have the strength for dessert, sometimes we don’t. After dinner we say grace (rub a dub dub, thanks for the grub, yeah God!).
Depending how absolutely exhausted we are, some of us head off to play backgammon and chess, some of us head for the couch with a good book or a magazine. And some of us head up to bed. It doesn’t matter if it’s 8 PM, or midnight, at the end of the meal some of us are always ready for bed.
Friday night doesn’t change much in the Miriyummy household. Sometimes Ju-Boy and I will go to friends for dinner. Sometimes, when the planets are aligned correctly, we have a meal to ourselves, just the two of us. Every now and then one of the kids will invite a friend from out of town who has to deal with the boisterous table, the food fights, the copious amounts of wine and noise. Most of all, we love to have a full table: kids, kids-in-law, a hungry grandson, good friends — sitting around the Friday night table is one of the best joys of life.
Those of you in North America, those of you who are unfortunate enough not to be living in Israel, have a chance of experiencing something, that in the words of the National Jewish Outreach Program, “will turn an ordinary Friday night into something extraordinary.” Are you interested in experiencing a little bit of this magic? Head on over to Shabbat Across America/Canada and check out how you can participate.
Friday nights are my favorite, but I do know the kids in our family love Shabbat morning, where the time-honored tradition of Shabbat treats are handed out. It may be just a simple Kinder Egg, or a Kit Kat bar, or something wonderful and Willy Wonka-ish. The kids do love their Shabbat treats, even when they are no longer kids and giving Shabbat treats to kids of their own. The NJOP has included their own Shabbat treat, a downloadable e-book called The Complete Guide to Shabbat. Download it for a sweet little read, maybe something you can do on the couch after your Friday night meal?