The Power of Slowing Down

The Shabbat candles flickered in our dining room – 6 candles lit by me, representing each person in my family, 2 by Asher and 2 by Eliana, both soon to become “of age” in the Jewish world so they have their own candlesticks.

We said the blessings over wine and homemade bread, we sat down as a family for a luscious meal, Friday night, Saturday lunch. Saturday night we again ate together, recited the blessings over grape juice, candle and spices to end the Sabbath and piled onto the basement couch to watch animated movies until bedtime.

This weekend, we turned off technology and spent time together. It was refreshing. On Friday night, after our dinner, we built a fire in the fireplace and against the crackle and flame, we played card games and Connect Four and sat altogether in our living room with music playing that we sang along to.

It was deliciously fun. Laughing, talking, listening, being. It felt like stepping into a time long ago, on the brink before even my life began, and learning to appreciate the moments.

Except, when I was a kid, there were no computers and no cellphones, no constant texting. No Snap Chat, no Instagram, no Pinterest. No urgency.

I remember playing outside with neighborhood kids until darkness sent us home. I remember snow days when we piled into our snow pants and warm coats, gloves and hats, and tossed in the snow until our noses were red, and then came inside where my mother made hot chocolate.

I remember as a preteen (the word “tween” didn’t exist then), waiting for the phone to ring – a friend, a boy – and the beauty of the invention of Call Waiting so our beloved calls would get through. I remember the power of waiting and the beauty of anticipation. Do our kids have it today, with everything and everyone at their fingertips?

I remember my mother saying that “bored” was equal to a swear word in our house and not allowed. If we said we were bored, she told us to go find something to do.

The other day, one of my kids, on the drive home from Costco, said she was bored. I went into the lecture my mother gave and chastised the kids for not being able to just sit and enjoy the ride. I said, “I’m never bored,” and I realized, it’s true. Sometimes just sitting with yourself is the most beautiful thing of all.

These days, it’s so hard to slow down and just be together as a family, with so many competing distractions. But this weekend felt…nice. Complete. Whole.


I love being a mom and a wife, knowing that this group of people belong together and enjoy one another, even if we bicker, even if we get on each other’s nerves. There is truly no place like home.

And as we migrate away, we always shift back to touch base to where we feel like ourselves, to the place we know we will always be welcome, loved and accepted just as we are.

Each of my kids is unique of course and they are finding their own identities in their own unique ways. I have kids who mull over the what-ifs and the what-do-I-believes and others who just flow along with whatever we do. I know rebellion lies ahead in some form, and I hope it’s not onerous for anyone.

In the end, I hope my children look back on their childhoods and see weekends like this last one and know that they don’t need all the advancements and new toys to be happy. They can just quiet it all down and simplify into a fire-lit evening, playing games and having conversations with people who know them better than they know themselves.

Sometimes that’s all we need.

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