Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gratitude Challenge: The Shabbat Journal

I'm reading: Gratitude Challenge: The Shabbat JournalTweet this!

The folks at TinyPrints put together a thoughtful package of 21 writing prompts for each day of the Gratitude Challenge and here I am going off on my own. (Also I'm headed offline for about 24 hours, so I wanted to get this up.)

So with apologies, I offer a few thoughts on Shabbat, as I think I will for the next two Fridays. The Jewish Sabbath starts Friday at sundown and runs through Saturday until three stars grace the evening sky. Though we've fallen way off the Shabbat bandwagon during our hectic last year, in theory, we have a nice family meal on Friday nights and I have the boys write in the Shabbat Journal.*

When they were younger, I did all the writing. I'd share a funny story or two from our week, write about a milestone one of the boys reached and tack in a photo or two (this was before we went digital). Those old books are a gift, a priceless treasure.

We recently snuggled up poured over a few of the old books and, oh, the laughs! Oh, the memories! And oh, those cute, silly little boys I used to have!

In recent years since the boys have been writing, the entries are not nearly as, um, "rich" and they are much harder to decipher, but I like that they take a more active role in creating this family time capsule. In between many notes about what level they are on their latest Mario or P0kemon game, they write about a friend who slept over, a party they attended or something about school. A tiny snapshot of childhood happiness.

The Shabbat Journal is not only a time capsule. It is, in essence, a gratitude journal. About two weeks ago, I bought a plain sketchbook and handed it to the boys: Start writing, it's been a while.

One boy jotted down the required number of sentences (currently three "good ones," but I'm thinking of raising it to five), while the other decided to sketch out scenes from our July trip to Kentucky.

My friend Susan from Two Kinds of People mentioned in a recent post that when she finds spare change, she tosses it into a Tzeddakah (charity) box** with a little prayer. That inspired this post, because it called to mind a story recorded in one of our "ancient" Shabbat journals.

I was out walking with my only son about ten years ago and we found a $10 bill. After we recovered from the initial excitement, I let my toddler hold it in the stroller as he talked about the many things he would buy with it. When we arrived home, a mere two short blocks later, the bill was gone. Once he'd processed the shock and sadness, I told him the old cautionary fable about not counting one's chickens until they hatch and decided that from then on when we found money that wasn't ours to begin with, we should put it in our Tzeddakah box.

I'd love to hear about your treasured family traditions and keepsakes.

*Writing on the Sabbath is technically forbidden, but we are not technical Jews.

**When we "do" Shabbat, along with a nice meal with challah (egg bread) and dessert(!), lighting candles, writing in the journal, and calling my husband's grandma (which we always do, regardless if what's going on at home), we toss a few coins in the Tzeddakah box. Once a year or so we gather up all the change and make a donation to an important cause.


Dani L said...

Love this. Both kids have journals they write in regularly - and of course tzedekah is an ongoing part of our week...

We have a great tzedekah poem that we say right before we light candles...

Penny in the pushke, Penny in the pot - We give tzedekah right before Shabbat!!

Sprite's Keeper said...

So sweet!
I remember the Shabbat dinners at my grandmother's and the challah bread, so good!
I wish we did something like that in our home. I think we need to.
My friend and her husband make fresh challah every Friday for that evening and then break bread after a small prayer. It's simple, but I'm envious of it.

Rick Bucich said...

Although I'm not Jewish, I have always enjoyed the Shabbat dinners I have attended. My son is almost three and haven't started any family traditions yet but I am looking forward to trying some of your suggestions or ideas once he can start to contribute.

So far, reading books before bedtime is our little quiet time family get-together. Jack loves to pretend he's reading.

Naomi said...

This is such a great idea! Roo started kindergarten this week and she got her first journal to write in. Maybe we'll start a family sketchbook.

missmotorcade said...

What a great idea - you've inspired me to come up with a Friday night (we're jewish, so technically Shabbat, but like you, we're not technical jews) family tradition. For us, maybe an arts and crafts project or something with photos. For sure it will include a donation to the Tzedukah box!

Thanks for this great post!

2KoP said...

Love the idea of a Shabbat Journal. I think it is another thing I must steal from you, Kim. Let me count — the fake tye-dye t-shirt project; the gratitude post; now the Shabbat Journal. Three. Keep 'em coming.

TechyDad said...

That's a great idea. When I was younger, I was very much into writing. Not journals, so much, but stories. I recently found old computer copies of some of my stories and it has been fun re-reading them. I had forgotten all about most of them.

One in particular stood out. It was a not-so-subtle telling of my life as a high school student and how I felt being teased mercilessly. While I remember such teasing and the feelings it evoked, time has a way of distorting your memories. It was interesting to get such a clear glimpse of my mental state at the time.

Stacey @ Tree, Root, and Twig said...

I love this post, and very much enjoy learning about your family's and religion's traditions.

We're Mormon - maybe as "technically" as you can get, though we all slip up in this way or that :) - and every Monday night we have what we call Family Home Evening. In addition to traditional Sabbath learning and regular, nightly scripture study, on Monday nights we have an informal family meeting where we sing songs, have a lesson, and generally just set aside time to spend together. We've created some pretty funny memories over the years! When the kids were younger, Family Home Evening was a success if it lasted 15 minutes. We can usually make it to an hour now. It's a nice time to bring our faith to a very personal, applicable place for us and share it with each other.