As we all know, celebrating the liturgical year with kids can sometimes take on the feeling of just one more big project for mom. Sarah tackles the question of how we build meaningful traditions in our Catholic home with our children by letting them do much of the work. Sarah has been blessing all of us with nuggets of wisdom for a long time now. Most of the time I am pretty sure she captures the spirit of Living Liturgy much better than I do. That is why I am happy she is writing a guest post for us about something she does so well — inspiring others to action.
I have always wanted to observe the liturgical year with regular teatimes and domestic celebrations. I’d see beautiful pictures online of how other Catholic moms were living out the Church year and think to myself, Yes! That is what we are going to do! I pictured myself creating liturgical rituals that would imprint themselves on my children’s memories, memories that would help them live out the year according to feast days with pleasure and reverence. And then it just never really happened.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. I did pull off a few, especially during one particular year early on, when I was motivated to live out the beauty I was seeing all over the blogosphere. But I wasn’t able to maintain that kind of ritual, and for a while I beat myself up over it, wishing I could give my kids the gift of marking the Church year in a beautiful, meaningful way. Fast forward to now, and my two oldest girls are 12 and 10. Imagine my delight to discover that not only are my girls willing to take over feast day celebrations, they love doing it!
|My girls executed all of this while I was napping! (Hey, I needed it. I was pregnant with twins.)|
If you only have very small children, then be encouraged that this is just a season- you do not always have to do the song and dance. At some point, your oldest children really can and might even like to take the reigns. Do the best you can, keep things simple, and try to be as cheerful as possible. If at least one or two of your kids are a bit older, you may want to encourage them to take charge of feast day planning. Here are a few tips to help that happen.
1. Don’t set the bar too high.
If your kids think that having a liturgical celebration means the treats have to have some symbolic meaning or be made from scratch, they aren’t going to feel as confident taking over. My girls know that any treat is a way to celebrate! We aren’t celebrating the food we’re eating anyway- the food just helps us get our party on. They often make cookies or cupcakes from a boxed mix on feast days. Try to remember that it doesn’t matter so much what the treat is as much as it matters that you have one to mark the day.
|Sugar cookies my girls made from a box last May in honor of the Blessed Mother.|
2. Provide a simple calendar.
Many parishes offer free calendars at the beginning of each new year. My girls each snag one and use them to decide which feast days they’d like to celebrate.
3. Provide finery you aren’t attached to.
A celebration is much more festive when the fancy dishes are put into use! I pick up tea pots and simple china pieces at thrift shops for this purpose. If they are thrifted, then I don’t worry if the pieces break (they were bought for pennies, anyway!).
|I picked up the pretty blue embroidered linen pictured here at a thrift shop for less than a dollar!|
It’s nice to have linens in a few basic liturgical colors. You can use colors that coordinate with the Church calendar: purple (Advent, Lent), green (ordinary time), white (Christmas, Easter), red (feast days of martyrs, pentecost), and blue (Marian feasts). Look at thrift shops and garage sales for inexpensive tablecloths and napkins.
4. Give kids access to books, statues, and candles.
|A teatime tableau my girls set for the feast of St. Therese last October.|
Can you store candles, small inexpensive statues, and some basic saint books where your kids can access them? My kids are happy to hunt around the house for items that will dress up the table, or flip through a saint book to look for a prayer or short biography. I keep simple illustrated titles like The Picture Book of Saints by Lawrence Lovasik on hand for such occasions.
5. Be enthusiastic!
Nothing is so catching as a mother’s enthusiasm. Above all, demonstrate enthusiasm for the Church’s rhythm, no matter how simply you observe it. Even just greeting your children with a cheery “Good morning! Happy feast day!” goes a long way. Our goal is to tie the Church year to our children’s hearts. We don’t need to be all that elaborate to make that happen. Do you have any tips for helping kids take charge of feast days? Share in the comments, we’d love to hear!
Sarah is a smitten wife and a homeschooling mama of six (including twins!). She writes about a life drenched in grace at Amongst Lovely Things.