We happily welcome frequent contributor Ellie Peck of The Bleeding Pelican back to TAN Homeschool
The beauty of the family is that each one expresses a different facet of an eternal God in its own way. We share a theology, but our spirituality may differ widely. Some of us are called to hospitality. Some to missionary work. Some to the rural countryside. Some to the inner cities. One of the most attractive things about the Catholic faith to me is the very presence of this rich diversity.
I think of this each and every year when we start the liturgical calendar over again and come into the holidays and holy days in our home. The internet has unleashed a beautiful, overstimulating treasure trove of ideas on how to cultivate special traditions in the home. In my early years of parenthood, the pickings online were slim and I desperately sought out what I could find and adopt as traditions in my new, little family. I wanted so badly to cultivate the right kind of childhood memories for my children with little thought put into the capriciousness of the human memory and the value of non-planned moments.
One year, I was so gung-ho for Advent and doped up on exciting Catholic mommy blogs that seemed to promise me that my family could look as happy and carefree as the smiling pictures of their children, if only I could master this one craft/activity/liturgical snack/prayer routine! I was determined to establish a bunch of new traditions that year: tamales on Christmas Eve, hosting a cookie exchange party, making Jesse Tree ornaments and doing the readings, getting an O Antiphons house and doing the prayers each day for them… and lots and lots of hot cocoa and snuggling with children with story books. It didn’t happen. Not any of it. I was exhausted with a pregnancy and the pressure was too much. Christmas Day came and I couldn’t even make my beautiful dinner happen; I wanted to cry. My husband went out and bought steaks instead and grilled them. It was wonderful. And that became our tradition. While other families spend hours in the kitchen making a beautiful, worthy feast, we treat ourselves to the glory of a great cut of steak, grilled (come rain or snow!) and a couple easy side dishes. It’s a treat for everyone in our family and the effort is minimal. The concept of adopting an accident or coincidence is really a running theme for my family. We went to a Christmas Tree farm once on Guadete Sunday; the next year, our children informed us that “Pink Sunday is when we get our tree.” So it became a royal edict. Another year, we put up lights on the feast of St. Lucy. Guess what we do every 13th of December to celebrate light now?
Traditions aren’t something we can always contrive, no matter what Pinterest may have us believe. I see hundreds of awesome ideas online and would love to do many of them but I know they’d create more stress and hassle than I care to incorporate into my life. And I have lots of my own childhood memories that I’d like to recreate for my kids but not all of them fit; we are a different family. I feel so importantly that we don’t try to make our homes and contrive our childhoods to look like the images we see online. Our people are individuals with different personalities, temperaments and needs than anyone else’s people. I know one family where not a single one of the eight members care for turkey so they don’t eat it on Thanksgiving! Father’s Day in another home doesn’t mean a day doting on dad, but mom and kids leaving very early for half the day so he can just sleep in until noon. It’s his favorite gift!
There are hundreds of feast days and holy days on our calendar. Pick and choose just a few things (and even less than that if you are pregnant or post-partum!) that grab your heart and let the rest go. You absolutely can’t do everything for every day, every year. Not even the mommy bloggers can, trust me. Some days they barely manage to print off a few coloring pages before returning to the pile of laundry with a cup of coffee… trusting that last year’s activities can be found with a sidebar link on their site.
Our faith is too big and too beautiful to fit inside a few crafts and activities that make for great online perusing. Our families get the joy to choose how to express their faith either through adopting the practices of others or through organic moments of serendipity. Everyone of us will look different and pray different and craft different and cook different; and I think this is something to celebrate.
What are your cherished family traditions and celebrations?
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About Ellie Peck