Sunday, 19 April 2015

Our Liturgical Year -- Part II

Continuing the recap of how we try to follow our Church's feasts & fasts with two toddlers underfoot. You can find Part I over here.

Christmas:
I will be covering off our 2014 Christmas celebrations in a separate post, but this is the rough idea. There’s always lots going on between December 22nd (David’s birthday) & January 7th (Ukrainian Christmas) so it’s a fun couple of weeks:
  •  we always go to a Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve and do dinner out/take away to keep the day low on stress & rushing. 
  •  we bake a birthday cake for Baby Jesus. The children decorate it and on Christmas Day we sing Happy Birthday & blow out candles. This is something my parents always did with me and I love it. 
I'm pretty sure this is around the time they discovered that the sprinkles were delicious.
  •  we celebrate the Feast of Christmas until January 7th. The Feast of the Epiphany (Wisemen visiting Jesus) is the end of the 12 Days of Christmas, but I also like to do a nod to my Ukrainian heritage by celebrating Ukrainian Christmas on January 7th. 
Cabbage rolls, perogies, sausage, & pickles. Could it get any better?
  •  Santa fills stockings & we all get presents to help Baby Jesus celebrate His birthday. Because the children are so little I’ve found that they have an easy time understanding that Baby Jesus is having a birthday party but because He loves them He is giving them presents, instead of just receiving presents. 
With no good place to hang stockings, and no nice stocking to hang anyway, we went the gumboot route.
Lent:
40 days of penance, fasting, & abstinence. As the children grow I hope to include more family prayers etc, but right now less is more for small attention spans and it seems this year we have definitely marked the season out as different.
  •  Shrove Tuesday will forever be “pancake day” in my mind thanks to our years in Cambridge. Even the pubs served pancakes! So we make sure that we have pancakes for a meal or for dessert that day.
Crepes with a homemade chocolate orange filling. She was a happy baby. 
  •  My children love singing “alleluia”, so this year I printed off an “alleluia” colouring page which they coloured in. We then had a procession through the house, singing alleluia. Then we “buried” it in the closet, where it’s staying until Easter, at which point it will come out & stay on their bedroom door. They’ve fallen in line with the liturgy & there are no alleluias to be sung in this house until Easter. I’ve had many a good laugh at hearing them remind whomever lapses – usually a “no alleluia, Baby Annie, no alleluia” from Walter or a “no ‘leu-ya” from Annie. 
A brief moment of team work. 
  • Ash Wednesday we go to Mass and everyone gets a cross. We wear ours all day, and again it’s something that I find is a good point of conversation. 
  •  Us grownups have our various Lenten sacrifices & fasts, but for the kids we’ve stuck with the “no alleluias” and it is working really well this year. 
  •  We have a “Lenten path” colouring page on our fridge. We colour in one square each evening and see how close we’re getting to Easter. It’s been a big hit & Walter loves showing it off to anyone who comes over. 
How our pathway looked on Holy Saturday
  • We’ll be taking down/veiling all of our religious images & statues as we get closer to Holy Week. (in theory. This year that proved to be one thing too much!)
Easter:
Holy Week is really difficult with two small children. The Masses are beautiful, but long, and with two children there’s not much chance of getting through the Easter Vigil. It’s a major sacrifice for me to give up these Masses, but for family harmony I need to let go – it makes the whole celebration a lot more stressful otherwise. When they are old enough to sit through the Vigil I think we’ll turn it into a special rite of passage. It’s a beautiful, ancient liturgy and so very special, but it does go on for 2-3 hours and that is so hard with toddlers. One of the blogs I read suggested trying to do something at home to mark the events of each day (Last Supper, Crucifixion, etc) and I am going to have a think about that, because I think it will make it a little more meaningful for the children. But I haven’t figured all that out yet. What I do know:

  • We’ll all be making Easter baskets, which will be filled & ready for morning on Easter Sunday. A little chocolate, candy, small toy, & their new Easter clothes will go a long way to spreading some extra joy that morning!
It ended up being evening since their Baba wanted to be there to watch them open their baskets. It was a lot of fun!
  • Easter Eggs will be dyed. Nothing fancy but still a lot of messy fun. They were really proud of their eggs last year
A bonus for me -- my mum took the eggs home with her so I didn't have to figure out what to do with a dozen hard boiled eggs (ok, it wouldn't have been hard -- salad lyonaise is the obvious answer)
  • Alleluias will ring loud & clear, and so will the Easter music.
  • We celebrate Easter for eight weeks, until Pentecost. So, family visits & dinners, a few extra treats, and a lot of excitement.