Today is National Ice Cream Day. (Yes, that’s actually a thing.) While we didn’t eat ice cream today (WHY NOT!??!), it made me realize I should record the history of how Friday night came to be ice cream night in our house.
Every Friday night, so long as we’re in Pennsylvania (These days, we’re in Pennsylvania ALL OF THE TIME!), we have Shabbat dinner at home as a family. We begin with the traditional Friday night blessings and then eat a meal together.
Up until last summer, dessert wasn’t always a given. But all that changed one Friday night last July when the kids were wired and I had a hankering for something sweet. I remember pulling Marc aside and asking him if he wanted to go out for ice cream. He looked at me — perplexed — since we never go out on Friday nights. We’re home, as a family, celebrating Shabbat.
Marc agreed that getting ice cream out was a good idea so I proposed it to the kids with the understanding that it was a special, one-time thing. Of course, they cheered and acted like they were part of a coup. After we cleaned up from dinner, we drove a couple of miles down the road for ice cream.
The following Friday night, the kids wanted to go out for ice cream again. I anticipated this request so I planned ahead. I opened the freezer and showed them some recently-purchased pints of ice cream. I reminded them we wouldn’t be going out for ice cream, but we could have it after everyone finished their supper. Thankfully, they were pleased by ice cream for dessert, even if it was at home.
The Friday night ice cream tradition has been going strong for a year now. It provides a great incentive to eat whatever is served with a minimal amount of pickiness. (Of course, there are still complaints if someone doesn’t like the vegetable I make.) But the promise of ice cream after Shabbat dinner makes everyone happier.
I was the one scooping out the ice cream into dessert dishes this past Friday night. I set everyone’s bowl onto the table and realized how quiet it was. That’s when I stood up to take a photo. No one was chatting. Rather, everyone was eating their ice cream happily at the table. It was the essence of shalom bayit, or peace in the house.