The Every[wo]man's Guide to Celebrating Feastdays
Linking up to the loveliness over at Like Mother, Like Daughter.
I think that there are a lot of Catholic moms out there who genuinely desire to celebrate feastdays, but are also genuinely overwhelmed by all the options presented to them. Rather than get overwhelmed, why not just try to pick something simple and stick with it? Let you're motto be, "Make it beautiful. Keep it simple."
Don't re-invent the wheel.
(Wearing her green for St. Patrick's day!)
If I do nothing else for a feastday, there are two go-to options I have. First, if there is a color connected to the feastday in some way (green for St. Patrick, blue for a Marian feast, red for St. Joseph, etc.) I try to dress in that color and encourage the troops to do the same. Second, if we're able, we all try to get to daily Mass together (especially if the feastday is celebrating a saint who is near and dear to our hearts). Both options take minimal planning and are (relatively) easy to do! BUT, only do them if the feastday has actual meaning for you or is truly significant in the church year. Don't sweat it about feastdays that you aren't as in to. There are a lot of feastdays, and you don't want to drive yourself crazy! I read a really good blog post on this recently, and I'm totally blanking on its origin...maybe it was this one by Haley? She did write the book on celebrating feastdays, after all! (Tip: If you can't get to daily Mass, try to listen to it on the radio that day, or even take some time to read the daily readings in your personal prayer time.)
The celebration doesn't have to be fancy to be memorable.
Andrew's birthday falls in between the feasts of St. Patrick and St. Joseph...so we have a lot of celebrating on the docket that week of the year! Since he had a lecture to go to the night of his birthday, we went out to eat on the feast of St. Joseph. And do you know what? We kept it simple. We went to our family favorite, the "blue restaurant" and called it a day. Because sometimes...simple is okay. Our St. Joseph celebrations included wearing red (a Polish tradition that my parents used to encourage), daily Mass at noon, and a fast-food dinner in the evening. But was it fun for all involved? You bet!
I used to almost dread holidays, birthdays, and feastdays because I wanted them to be so perfect. But do you know what? Feastdays are little reminders of heaven, and of the fact that we are not there yet. And nothing is perfect in this world. So, rather than trying to achieve the perfect feastday celebration, pick something fun and simple and just enjoy yourself. And if it all goes awry, it's okay. We're not in heaven yet. ;-) Which leads me to my next point...
Don't try to make your feastday celebration "perfect."
(Sister Stinky sneaking a bite of the soda bread she helped make...)
Don't try to have the "perfect" feastday celebration. If you're doing that, you're missing the point! Even the saint that you're celebrating wasn't perfect (although he/she has now reached perfection)...so why do you expect that of yourself. I often have the image in my head of Martha frantically rushing around and then coming to Jesus and saying (and I paraphrase), "Lord, why don't you make my sister help me? See how busy I am making the perfect celebration for you?" And (I don't paraphrase) Jesus says, "Martha, Martha...you are worried and troubled about many things. Mary has chosen the better half, and it will not be taken from her." His point wasn't that we should be lazy...but that we shouldn't lose sight of him in our busyness. It's fine to plan things for a feastday celebration, but if you're so focused on things turning out right that you snap at your children, complain to your husband, and generally find yourself falling away from your own path to sainthood...you're doing it wrong. Feastdays aren't supposed to be stressful. They're supposed to be fun. They're supposed to be like little rays of sunshine in this "valley of tears;" reminders that there is a place of perfection that we're traveling to. They should be consolation for us, not a source of anxiety.
So, keep it simple and embrace any mishaps that may happen. And THAT leads to my final tip...
Be flexible, and let yourself grow in love.
Hanging on the coattails of that last point is this one. Celebrating a feastday in a family - especially a family with babies (who fuss), toddlers (who throw tantrums and anything else they can get their hands on), preschoolers (and their unpredictable moods), school-age children with their busy schedules, teenagers with their busy schedules, and a spouse with a sometimes unpredictable schedule...it's a recipe for imperfection. We're talking about people here. People with lots of needs, and people needing your love first and foremost.
The above picture is of our table, lovingly set for dinner on the Feast of St. Patrick. It was set way ahead of time, soda bread was baked from scratch, a cheesy soap also made from scratch, and corned beef and cabbage leftovers heated up. And then...Andrew needed to come home later than plan (for a complete understandable reason!) and the low blood sugar level of the preschooler and her mom, not to mention the potentially dwindling mood of the baby dictated that dinner at least be started and...sigh. Not perfect. BUT...it was perfect. It was an opportunity for all four of us to show patience and understanding. It didn't play out as planned...but we all still had fun! And we all enjoyed our dinner, even if the start times were staggered.
Because, if you're planning your feastday celebrations with your own sanctity in mind, you know that the most important thing that you can do to celebrate is to...love. To love God, and to love the dear ones He's entrusted to you. The best of plans are meaningless if they are not done in love!
Does your family have any feastday traditions?