If there is one week in a year, I choose the Holy Week to be my vacation week. Vacation meaning I stop working. I stop doing academic stuff. I stop writing. I stop things that usually earn me money. I take a vacation from the materialistic world. I attuned myself to the meaning of Holy Week.
However, it does not mean I am devoid of activities. Actually, I make myself busy planning out the week of Retreat so my family can experience the meaning of Lent and celebrate Easter.
Each time my birthday falls on Holy Week, it gets really busy. Our family celebrates Holy week. We have many family traditions. My husband and I spend a considerable time tweaking some youth activities into family traditions. My birthday falls most of the time in either one of the days of Holy Week.
The week was a huge success. From Palm Sunday to Adoration, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Stations of the Cross and Saturday Easter Vigil, our children made it through with flying colors. Will the children even remember it when they grow up? Or will they think it is just too much?
I grew up in a family with many Catholic family traditions. I try to replicate it within my own family.
One thing I recall though is my parents wouldn’t mind including my peers if they wished. With my children, it is not very easy to do that. First of all, we just moved to a new area and many of their friends are 2 hours away. Second, the friends they have around in proximity are still not classified as “close friends” so they are wary to invite them.
On Easter Sunday afternoon, we went out to the park to do two family activities. The first family activity is the “Easter Story through the Easter Eggs and Symbols”. We have 15 multi-colored Easter eggs in an Easter basket. We put numbers to it from 1-15. We put 15 short scriptural readings all leading from the passion of Christ to Easter. On another Easter basket, we put 15 symbols representing the Easter story. We have stones, feathers, palm, purple cloth, etc. The task of the children is to identify what symbols represent the scriptural story that their Dad is reading. If they guessed it, they can open the eggs and find out why that symbol represents that scripture. It was on a sequence. It is just a reaffirmation of what Lent is all about leading to Easter. They were familiar with the bible verses which they kept hearing during the Lenten season. But, it is a joy to know that they are getting it.
The second family activity is the “Sibling Factor”. We got one balloon for each kid and asked them to blow it up. We let one kid go away far from us as each sibling try to think about something positive about that sibling. Then, we send out another kid and again, each of us write down in her balloon nice qualities about that child.
After we have done this, we gathered up the children in a circle and told them that Easter means a new life. Christ died to save us from our sins and now rose from the dead. We want to symbolize to the kids that their “old blueprints of life” which could be their tendency to criticize, tattle tale on each other, put each other down can be turned around. They can start thinking of the many valuable traits of their siblings.
We told each kid to stand in the middle of the circle as I enumerate the positive qualities that their siblings wrote about them. We told them that our goal is to keep the balloon in the air and not to let any balloon fall on the ground. We told them that as a family we must encourage each other “up” and try to bring out the positives in each other rather than the negatives. We want them to grow and have their new families and not forget their siblings. We want them not have a “crab mentality” of pulling each other down just because they feel sad or unhappy. And we reminded them that it is crucial to not let the positive traits go down the drain and try their best to put each other up no matter what.
So, ready…set… go. We released the balloons all together and made sure that they stay on the air. Each kid tried not let any single balloon on the ground.
The kids could not stop talking about it all evening. Then, we went to the house. We were surprised to find that Easter bunny went to our house when we were at the park. So the kids hurriedly look for their Easter baskets and some Easter eggs around the house. Their Grandma and Grandpa look tired. I wonder? Wink. Wink.
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