rest and relaxation, Shabbat: the reality behind the scenes

I observe Shabbat.  My husband and I decided to start observing Shabbat about six years ago.  It was a cute idea at first, we dabbled in preparation, lighting the candles on time, not watching t.v. for a day and playing with the children.  About a year later we transitioned into full Shabbat observance.  No driving options (other than health emergencies), no technology at all, all meals prepared in advanced, and concluding with Havdalah.  Soon, this became a 25 hour retreat for us.  At that time my life started evolving around the weekly cycle of Shabbat and a lot of hard work is involved to prepare for this day.  

The cycle works like this for me.   Let’s start with Sunday morning, I take a deep breath and realize I retreated for a full day.  That’s pretty challenging these days with modern life.  Really challenging.  I let the kids watch t.v., I go on the computer, I make a hot breakfast.  I text.  I study.  Monday and Tuesday I enjoy modern life and all the options I have 24/7.  Wednesday it hits me that Shabbat is coming.  I sit down and plan a menu.  Then I let it go.  Thursday I go shopping for the food.  It’s not cheap.  You want to have an abundance of food (I’d feel like a complete failure if I didn’t have a meal to Wow the kids and friends).  I stare at the menu, I have the food in the fridge.  But I still need to cook dinner on Thursday night for the family.  Sometimes that’s cereal.   

If I’m well prepared, I make one or two Shabbat dishes on  a Thursday night.  I’ve had many Thursday evenings with a babysitter putting the kids to bed so I can cook.  Sometimes (Hi, Mackenzie and Rachael!), they help me with a dish!  I go to bed late because I want to indulge on Facebook, texting, and studying because Shabbat is coming soon.

It’s Friday.  I cook, shop for that “one  more thing I might be missing”, do a last minute push on Cigfy and maybe an herbalism assignment.  I sing the one Shabbat song I know around the house so the kids feel the coming change.  Then we run around like maniacs!  Showering, last minute laundry being folded, get the hot water on!  It’s crazy.  And then, as I tell the kids every week, “Ready or Not, It’s Shabbat”!  And I light the candles.

And then I do retreat.  I hit a big comfy chair and stare into space, cuddle with a child, or take out books to read.  Retreating is kind of trendy these days.  People make plans to escape.  It’s a little different for me, I have committed to this for life as my husband and children also take these 25 hours to “turn off” from the routine.  I have witnessed myself restructuring my life so we can do this every week, no options.  I have tantrums, sometimes I don’t want to do it.  But I do.  And I watch and observe.

I keep the Shabbat meals mostly vegan.  A lot of raw.  Always some sweets.  I believe it’s a special day to enjoy the seasons and the gifts surrounding us.  Fruits, vegetables, soups, whole grains.  A lot of salads.  And chocolate.  You’ll see me at Whole Foods asking why the watermelons aren’t organic this week, not the local butcher.  Enjoy!

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