Tisha b'Av was always the most difficult fast for me. It is a long day, usually pretty hot and while it has the restrictions of a fast day it isn't like Yom Kippur with a full day of prayer. You can drive, cook for the kids, talk on the phone, browse the internet, watch a movie, etc. which all take me out of the day. My day was usually filled with a lot of sleeping or just lounging on the sofa. Until last year.
Aba started recieving a daily halacha email from Darke Abotenou early last year and when Tisha b'Av rolled around the emails all focused on an aspect of the day. Very close to the fast one was sent out with minhagim for what to break the fast on and what was done after hatsot. It was like a light bulb went off.
It turns out, the Moroccan minhag is to tidy the house and bake cakes after hatsot to break fast on. The idea behind this is that not only will Tisha b'Av will be a Yom Tov when Mashiach comes, but Mashiach will be born in the evening of Tisha b'Av.
So last year after tidying up from the girls' lunch I made our beds. I also did a light tidying of the house and then went to the market to buy the dinner fixings. After I got dinner going in the crockpot, I pulled out my baking supplies and made sweet ka'ak. (Cookie bracelets with anise and sesame seeds.)
The girls helped make a few but mostly I spent an hour standing in my kitchen, fasting and rolling cookies and thinking about the meaning of the day and Mashiach and what I could do to help bring him.
It was an amazingly spiritual time.
The rest of the fast flew by and soon I was sending Aba off to mincha with a bag of cookies to share and getting the girls into bed.
The most difficult part of the fast turned out being reading all the books the girls wanted. Its hard to do when your mouth is dry!
This year, as the Tisha b'Av emails started rolling in, I started thinking and planning what I was going to make. I'm thinking vegetarian harira (garbanzo bean and lentil soup), ghoriba (sesame cookies) and bread since we are shockingly almost out of the challah I made for Shabbat.
As for what I'm going to do to bring Mashiach? I'll let the fasting open my senses up and listen to my heart.