Shabbos Gets Better and Better Because…
…it starts earlier. I know that some of us think this, but I’m saying it. Hear me out, it’s the same 25+hours. While I am all for a long afternoon in the “Shabbos” park and playdates that seem to go on for hours, I like the winter months.
I happen to like the fact that in the winter, I can chose to go to a longer Shabbos night davening (like a Carlebach-style minyan) and not have to worry about keeping my family starving and waiting for me at home.
I like the fact that after dinner, my wife and I have time to spend with our kids without feeling guilty about keeping them up late. We often play games, schmooze, and on occasion, I have learned with my older kids. Also, our shul has an oneg every few weeks at the home of our Rabbi, so it’s nice to be able to get out and socialize, as well.
The truth is, Shabbos gets better and better as we and our children get older. Having children in kindergarten, fourth grade, and sixth grade means that they sometimes play together, are able to initiate and participate in parsha-based discussions and general “table talk”.
My son, recently was learning the halachos of kiddush in school and mentioned that by drinking from the kiddush cup and pouring the wine into other cups, I am creating in a “Kos Pagum,” a “deficient cup,” from which it is improper for anyone else to drink from. After looking up his source (the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch), researching it, and consulting my Rav, we altered the distribution of the kiddush process. Had my son not been learning this, we would have never changed our system.
My two older children also are in sleep over mode. Sometimes they will will have friends sleep over and other times they will sleep someplace else (for Shabbos or after Shabbos). Not only does this allow our children to be exposed to how other Torah homes operate, but it gives them a feeling of independence.
As someone who started keeping Shabbos when I was 16 (now I am 41), I never went through the often rough transition of switching in my adulthood to Shabbos-mode (like the oven). In the end, Shabbos is totally what you make.