Monday, January 18, 2010

Feast Days! From Crowns to Oranges...

The kids and I have been enjoying decorating a table in our entryway for different liturgical feasts and celebrations. Today, we finally took down our one for the Feast of the Epiphany.  It was a simple display that started with the paper crowns the kids and I made in order to dress up as the three kings for our Epiphany Day celebration and Tomie de Paolo’s The Story of the Three Wise Kings (which was our main book study book during the second week of January) set on a white cloth (white, of course, being the symbolic color of the liturgical season of Christmas).  To that, we added a cute, little picture of the three kings that Luke spontaneously drew one day (See it below.) and a paper star the kids glued together hanging above it.  (You may wonder why the star is actually a circle with spokes instead of a tradtional star.  If you look at the page the storybook is open to in the picture below you'll see why.  The kids were creating their own stars inspired by the one in the book - a star in a circle.  You can also see parts of their other star creations hanging on either side of the Christmas tree in the picture to the right.  Luke wanted to use paper strips and crayons for his and Nina streamers and paint for hers.  I love how they decide their own mediums for creation!)

In place of our Epiphany table, we began making a table in honor of Our Lady of Altagracia, whose feast day is this week, on January 21. For this display, we looked through the kids’ drawer of silks and scarves for solid blue ones, just like the color of Our Lady’s dress in the Gift of Gracias book we are using for our book study this week. Then, the kids stretched one of these out on the table and we decided to hang another above it (with double stick tape on the wall) as the sky. Luke remembered that we had a star paper punch, so I got some strips of yellow cardstock – by Nina’s request – and white – by Luke’s – which we punched. The punching was a little tough for the kids, so I ended up “helping” to punch the stars out while the kids enjoyed using their pincer grasps to pick the tiny cut-outs up to attach to the bits of double stick tape I had put all over the scarf.  Thus, we made a night sky that the kids declared "beautiful!"

At this point, Luke said we needed a picture of Our Lady, so we all went to the computer to find one online that we could print. The kids liked two, so we printed both – one for a frame, which we draped with a rosary, and one to hang in the sky. We also found a line drawing which we enlarged so Luke and Nina could color it. I thought we might hang these coloring pages near our display, but one page ended up becoming cutting practice for Nina, while the other became a gift from Luke to his GG, who just returned from the hospital to her nursing home – praise God!  (Granting the kids choice and affording them opportunities to practice practical skills like cutting or spiritual ones, like compassion for the sick, sometimes must supercede Mommy's ideas for finsihed displays!
Thus, the scarves and Our Lady images set, and the coloring pages spoken for, I began to envision making an thank you tree out of a bare branch, glue, green streamers and consturction paper oranges with the kids as a project later in the week to add to the display.  I also thought about putting a basket of oranges out. When I mentioned the basket idea to the kids, they got excited. Nina immediately chose a little basket, but Luke balked, quickly taking the Gift of Gracias book, flipping through it, and pointing out that the basket pictured in it is quite large.  So, he insisted we use a large basket.

Not wanting to forgo an opportunity to practise conflict resolution, I encouraged the kids to come to a compromise.  they did -- of sorts.  After a visit to GG and a trip to the store, we ended up filling one small basket with clementines and one larger one with oranges to put on the table as part of our display.  With both baskets there, little room remains for an orange thank you tree... That’s okay!   That was my idea, and the kids are happy with what we have as it is.  Plus, we are simply thankful for Our Lady’s intercessions and for all the graces God grants us, thank you tree or none.  

One such grace, of course, is the fun of using our imaginations and the kids' increasing skills to work together on the creation our liturgical displays.  Another is the joy of celebrating our Catholic feast days.  What a rich heritage we are part of!


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