How will you celebrate your work today?
Look at laundry in new light to see how every day is a labor day.
Remember the ordinary, extraordinary labor that brought each of us into this world.
Take a page from my pastor on making room for kids in the midst of our work:
It’s adorable, of course, to watch a tall man in flowing robes lean over to talk to a tiny toddler. But sometimes I wonder if we let these interactions change us, if we who are parents let ourselves learn from our pastor.
I admit that I don’t always make such gracious space in my work for my children.
They pull over chairs to the counter in the middle of my dinner prep, and I sigh because little hands will now make a mess in the flour and steal veggies off the cutting board.
They show up at my elbow while I’m writing and ask to sit on my lap, and I grumble because I’m in the middle of finishing an important project with a pressing deadline.
They appear in the middle of folding laundry or sweeping floors or washing dishes, and I mistake the real work for the chore at my hands, not the moment unfolding in front of my eyes…
Read the rest at CatholicMom.com…
Check out our suggestions of hymns and blessings for Labor Day from the Collegeville Institute Seminars.
And these awesome Labor Day prayers written by my friend Genevieve at the USCCB.
Finally, treat yourself to this beautiful song by Carrie Newcomer on the holiness of everyday work. I’ve loved her music for a long time, but the beauty of her voice and words have become healing for me this past month:
Holy is the dish and drain
The soap and sink, and the cup and plate
And the warm wool socks, and the cold white tile
Shower heads and good dry towels
And frying eggs sound like psalms
With bits of salt measured in my palm
It’s all a part of a sacrament
As holy as a day is spent
Today I’m thrilled to welcome Meg Cox, author of The Book of New Family Traditions: How To Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Every Day. Her book is an irresistible treasure trove of ideas for celebrating big and small moments with kids of all ages.
Meg has gathered ideas from families of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds, so no matter what your cultural or spiritual tradition, there are heaps of creative, easy, inspiring ways to celebrate and ritualize the moments that matter.
I had long eyed Meg’s book in Chinaberry’s catalog, and when I saw that the book was now revised and updated for its ten-year anniversary, I had to grab it. As soon as I finished devouring the book – dog-earing so many ideas I want to try with my kids – I knew she would be a perfect addition for this series on How We Spend Our Time.
Whether we’re planning a birthday party or wondering how to brighten up a long winter with a new family tradition, this is an important way we spend our time as parents: celebrating. Enjoy Meg’s insights on how families of all kinds celebrate life’s small and monumental moments with creativity and love:
1) What is one truth about time you have learned since becoming a parent?
Ritual time is intense time, and it doesn’t have to take a long time to mean a lot. You may spend only a half hour together at dinner, but eating together often, keeping the conversation flowing and having at least one good laugh together creates a very strong bond. I used to pack an enormous amount into 20 minutes at bedtime, including one or two stories, a prayer, and a special good night to everyone in the extended family.
2) What is one practice of using time well that you have developed as a mother-writer?
I’ve tried very hard to work intensely while my son is at school, so I won’t be closed off, in the middle of interviews or deadline writing, when he comes home. I also try to model keeping all tech devices away from meals and family time: when we are together, we truly are, together.
3) What new insight about faith did you gain from writing this book?
For this and my other books about family traditions, I’ve interviewed families from many different faith backgrounds, and I think it’s extremely powerful to have one’s religious faith threaded through all sorts of daily and weekly rituals.
I interviewed a family once that tithed even when they played Monopoly: when you pass Go, you set $20 aside for charity. Now that paper money doesn’t feed a homeless person, but it sure sends a message about making sharing a constant habit.
4) What is your favorite way to spend time with your family?
There are many ways I love to spend time with my family, including summer vacations that usually include some time at the Jersey shore. We are all book-lovers, and enjoy a vacation where we can do a lot of reading.
But as my son got older, into his teens, I really learned to love spending time with him in the car, just the two of us, because it’s easier for teenagers to talk without looking a parent in the eye! This also works if you are fixing dinner together, or dyeing Easter eggs or frosting Christmas cookies, because there is a shared focus and not a parent-clamping-down-on-kid atmosphere.
. . .
Your chance to win! Meg has generously offered a signed copy of her book for one reader of Mothering Spirit. Leave a comment below about a special tradition your family celebrates.
Entries must be received by midnight CST on Friday, May 3rd.
On this mountain, the Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.
Let’s see. Days’ handful still to go and so much left here to be done. The gathering of food and drink, the trimming up of yard and home, final invites, last sweep and mop of floor. Making ready for a feast always demands all that I have to give and more, late nights spent making lists, too many turns around dark kitchen puttering and putting house to rest only to rise again with to-do on my mind. Endless preparation — do they ever guess the time it takes, those I welcome at the door, embrace with kiss and laugh and can-I-take-your-coat? Behind the scenes is where the spread takes life: the quiet rolling of the silverware in napkins and the careful press of linen wrinkles smoothed by iron’s steam. Sometimes I wish that I could be the guest: the ones arriving eager, ignorant of sweat and hours poured into the party, those who taste and savor, do not spy undusted shelves or frown at pie that browned too long. I envy innocence of answering and not inviting. But over years hosting became a life, the way to keep heart widened like door creaked open in the winter cold, wet snow stamped in on boots piled high to dry while party swells and spills into the basement, front porch, following wherever wine and laughter flow. I love a crowd, the jostle welcoming unlikely crew – friends and in-laws, uninvited stragglers perched on couches balancing full plates on napkinned knees, squeals of children weaving between legs of grown-ups clustered in the kitchen, heart where warmth and good smells always grow. Right here’s the rub that hosting brings each year when holidays ring round again: the joy of drawing close, of living for a night the way we ought to love all year – with beauty, generosity, all energy on evening, no worry of tomorrow. Just the small sweet joy of many underneath one roof, tired satisfaction sharing all the good my life can give.
How often have I desired to gather your children together
as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…
Of course I love the days when they come back. When dark drive floods with headlights, tired travelers droop to baggage claim and I leap up to greet them bright-eyed, arms as wide as grin. Soft tears springing right behind: You’re home! I reach to pull them near and laugh a muffled welcome into collars, fall into the hug I’ve held in dreams, remembering panged when phone would ring from far away, quick update between worlds and then goodbye, talk soon, take care – empty that gnaws and grows each time they leave. When they were young, my wings arched wide enough to hold them, stretch around their needs, protect, provide, make home. But then they grew. I wanted them to scurry off and run into the world just as I hoped. And yet I never thought they’d drift so far. Years went by when they did not return, work or duty called, and travel hassles at the holidays. I know it’s life, I understand. Still, one big brood under my roof is best: Clucking, ruffling feathers (family after all) the way I always dream. Warmth of close reminding love resides in flesh and bone. Gathering is work. You’d never guess the squeezing of the schedule to make time and space for cooking, cleaning, organizing and awaiting, readying return. And stretching of the heart, too wide enough to let back in. Last night as I tucked blankets into corners, smoothed the sheets for now-guests in their childhood beds, I thought of birds who pluck their feathers to line soft their babies’ nest. Always it is myself I give to draw them home, my loves that wander wide then circle back to tell me wisdom of the world I’ve always known.
And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”
Here’s why I love to bake: You start with nothing – an idea, ingredients of possibility, a plan and hope. You slowly start to mix measure and pour, the transformation stirring with your spoon. And suddenly it starts to look and smell and taste alive – creation sticky in my hands, smeared between my fingers, streaked across my hair. The baker’s art takes patience, planning, careful watch of oven’s heat, directions’ time. Forgiveness, too – for cake that falls, deflated; recipes that failed to rise. Baking’s best as company affair: Sometimes I cook with children – grabbing cups and spoons to spill, enthusiasm trumped only by sugar. I sit and watch the wise work, too – laughing, telling stories while they bake with wrinkled hands, forearms strong from years of kneading dough. I ought to say that sharing is the best part – breaking loaf and offering steaming slice in love. But secretly I like to chew in silence: taste alone the crunch of crust, sink of teeth in softer middle’s heart. Because creation’s sweetest in still morning before the rest wake round me greeting day with yawn and groan. I love to feed their bellies, but I need to rise alone.