This article is in the September/October 2023 Issue 14 of Torah Sisters Magazine.
By Tina Fallstead
Busy, busy, busy.
Feast seasons are busy, but this is especially true of the Fall Feasts. The Fall Feast season is a time filled with much activity. So much so that if we are not careful, we can get so focused on planning those activities that we forget to focus on the real purpose behind the Father’s Feasts—drawing near to the one who established these appointed times.
In a past life, one of my duties was to see to the planning and execution of our congregation’s Feast gatherings. As our numbers increased, the expectations grew more extensive and more grandiose. Even with the aid of an army of volunteers and eventually passing the baton to an event coordinator to do all the heavy lifting, each season became all-consuming. So much so that as the years progressed, I eventually lost the joy of each season, and instead, each Feast became just another event with a checklist of things to do. I simply looked forward to them being over so that I could rest.
Happily, this is not the case for me now. Over the last four years, I have experienced a reset. Once again, I joyfully look forward to each feast season with a much more laid-back approach. I am devoting more of my focus to the things that will bring real meaning to my guests (and myself), hoping that our spirits will genuinely experience a refreshing time because we have drawn near to Our Savior and King, Yeshua.
Limit the List.
A word to the wise. If you are someone who has a task-driven personality like me, you can easily fall into the trap I just described. Lists are proven to be a very effective way to manage our time and our efforts. However, we must learn to be realistic with our lists. We tend to underestimate the time and energy a given task will take. Another common misstep in our list-making is placing too many items on it. These two mistakes will make us stressed out and frustrated because we will routinely be unable to accomplish everything we have set out to do.
Speaking of Food
Keep it simple. Although these are often called The Feast Days, we do not have to lay out a resort-worthy spread. Instead, choose one or two of your family’s favorite dishes and focus on those. Then, build around those items with easy-to-manage recipes you and your family will enjoy. Fill in with premade items if that is what your family wants.
Do your future self a favor.
Cut up veggies and store them in a glass. I like to use mason jars, but sometimes glass storage ware is more appropriate for the item. Most cut veggies will stay fresh for up to 5 days in the fridge when stored this way. I use this method for my ‘salad bar.’ I am far more likely to stick to healthy eating if I can quickly grab my precut items and assemble my salad or throw them in the skillet for a quick sauté.
This storage method works nicely for most fruits as well. Let berries dry thoroughly before packing them into your storage vessel.
Keeping some quick-to-grab proteins such as hard-boiled eggs, cheese sticks, cold cuts, yogurt, or nuts can give you a nearly instant light meal or snack when paired with your precut fruits and veggies.
I like to keep batches of cooked rice, quinoa, potatoes, and sweet potatoes in the fridge for a quick meal base. Add the desired amount to the skillet while you sauté your veggies, and they will reheat by the time your veggies are ready.
Start making and freezing some easy-to-reheat meals now. It takes minimal additional effort and time to make a double batch of a main dish you are preparing. Your future self will thank you when she pulls that casserole out of the freezer and slides it into the oven.
Have some fun.
Somewhere along the line, society began telling us that we were responsible for being full-time activity directors for our children. Remember, you do not have to fill every moment of your child’s day with planned activities. Just like adults, they must have unstructured time to explore their way of expressing themselves. You can provide the space and materials to express their creativity.
Think in terms of stations. Gather the materials for each station into one easy-to-manage space. This could be a cubby, a shelf, or a storage tote. Choose what will work best for the materials required by the activity. Having a place where each item lives and making it easy for your child to identify will help them from being overwhelmed when choosing activities and when it is time to put them away. Reducing our child’s opportunity to become overwhelmed will also help reduce our chance to feel the same.
To all the overachievers reading this: Be mindful of what we discussed earlier. Be realistic about creating these activity stations. You do not have to have a station to reflect every child’s interest. Not only will you be asking too much of yourself, but that could be overstimulating for your child, making it hard for them to choose an activity and to return the items to their proper place, which defeats the purpose.
The same approach can be taken with adults as children. Simply tailor the stations to your interests and enjoy yourself!
If unstructured time is new to you or your child, be patient. Don’t be alarmed by feelings of boredom or lack of inspiration. The business of this world and the demands it puts on us to perform according to those standards has wired our brains to think we must constantly be moving. We are so blessed to have sabbaths to help us rewire our brains but practicing resting each day will enable us to enter into our sabbath rest even more as time goes on.
These fun ideas will inspire you to create your activities for the feast season that will help you to focus on drawing near to our Creator while still enjoying the time spent with fellow followers of His ways.
Remember to schedule a non-activity time when planning for your family, a group, or yourself. A beautiful type of ministry comes from our unscripted, unplanned conversations with others.
Don’t neglect yourself.
As hosts, we want our guests to have an enjoyable experience and feel loved and welcome. This is natural and good. However, it is equally, if not more important, that we have first nurtured ourselves. We cannot give what we do not have.
Taking the time to be in the Word, prayer, and worship is critical to keep your focus.
Remember your natural body. Maintain healthy habits like eating nourishing food, drinking water, and getting plenty of rest and exercise. You don’t want to end Sukkot with illness because you didn’t care for yourself. Ask me how I know.
Please consider some of these tips; they will help you fully engage in this beautiful season.
Tina Fallstead is a wife and mother whose passion is to enable other women to become all that the Father has created them to be. She and her husband are blessed to lead a congregation in their community called The Way of Life Ministries. Tina has recently launched a women’s ministry called Geulah Gals, focused on ‘Hastening the Geulah through serving the community alongside our sisters.