Breaking Tradition This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 9, 2012
“Stacey, will you be home for dinner tonight?” my mother shouts from downstairs.

“Um, I’ll let you know,” I shout from my room. Even though I can’t see her, I know she is frustrated. I can’t understand why; you would think that after four years of having this conversation every Friday she would be used to my noncommittal response.

My family has always eaten Friday night dinner together for Shabbat. When I was younger, I looked forward to the special meal Mom spent all afternoon cooking. The smells of chicken soup would fill the house with such a delicious aroma that my stomach would grumble as soon as I stepped in the house. I would wait all week to see what interesting way my mom would cook the traditional chicken, or what variation of potatoes (my dad’s favorite) she would serve. If I was lucky, she would ask my opinion on the meal, so I was sure to get what I wanted.

Each week I would lift the tall silver candlesticks out of the glass breakfront and place them on the table, then wait anxiously until I heard my father come home. Then I would race to the small dresser drawer where he kept his yarmulkes, and carefully chose one for him to wear. There was the worn brown velvet one from his wedding and the blue velvet with white polka dots I had made, but my favorite was black velvet with rainbow swirls. After shoving the rest into the drawer, I would race down and proudly hand it to him.

Next came the blessing over the wine, which my father chanted in a loud, clear voice. We would join when he reached a certain point. My youngest sister would say the blessing over the challah bread, and I would get to cut it and hand it out.

Then came the delicious meal I had waited for all week. As soon as we finished, my sisters and I would race to turn on the TV. Somehow my sister would manage to drag my father into the room too, and so began a night of family bonding … until recently.

At 17, the last thing I want to do on a Friday night is have family dinners and bonding time. I’d rather go out for pizza than eat chicken again, I’d rather see a movie than watch TV and I’d rather choose an outfit for myself than a yarmulke for my father.

Each week I am torn between my family duties and my desire to go out and have fun. I know how happy it makes my parents if I eat dinner with them, but I love to go out! Sometimes I do both, and sometimes I go out and skip dinner. But I know the traditions my parents have instilled in me will always be with me, and one day I will probably have the same conflict with my children.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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