Ah, there it was in a post in “draft”. It seems that due to my efforts to adhere to Luke's suggestion for my Lenten fast last year – less computer time – I never completed the post I had begun writing about our pre-Lenten activities.
Today, I am doing so, both to chronicle the fun we had last year leading up to Lent as well as to, perhaps, inspire you and yours prepare to partake in some meaningful fun as you begin to observe the important Liturgical season we are headed into.
By chance, a local homeschooling group planned a field trip to Matfield Maple Farm on "Pancake Tuesday" last year, which the kids and I had fun at …
To prepare for the trip, we borrowed armloads of books on maple trees and syruping from our library, which we ended up book-ending the trip with – diving into them as much after the trip as before.
In fact, the entire syrup exploration was so much fun that I had hoped to make it an annual tradition to explore different maple syrup operations right before Lent each year. Seasonal by nature; tied to the Liturgical year through “Pancake Tuesday”. The perfect annual field trip!
So, I began thinking about where we could go: Davell's Farm, where we bought delicious maple syrup a couple years back, Warren Farm, which is close to where I lived for five years when I was younger, or perhaps some of the traditional tours put on by the Audubon Society.
Then, this year happened. Unseasonably warm winter weather and an early Lent. Looks like we’ll have to wait until next year for our tradition to continue. Until then, if you've been on any great maple syruping field trips in
New England or have recipes or maple-related activities to offer, please share in a comment.
Last year, just prior to Lent, the children and I discussed the church tradition of not singing "Alleluia" or "Gloria" during Lent. In simple terms, I explained why we usually sing these words and why we stop doing so as we prepare for easter. Then, we made Do-A-Dots paintings of the words "Gloria" and "Alleluia" to "bury". (Oh, how my children love Do-a-Dots!)
As we used our Do-a-Dot paints to make our posters, Luke was only too glad to say "bye-bye" to “Alleluia” since he has often found the singing of them bothersome to sensitive ears at
Nina, however, was greatly disappointed about the "loss" of these favorite familiar church refrains. Thus, much to Luke's chagrin, she proceeded, to sing "Alleluia" loud and often throughout the days just prior to Lent, and, even sometimes during Lent (until Luke would remind her that we had buried those words). Mass.
And, where did we bury them? Not in the ground outside ready to uncover at Easter as I understand some families do. Nope. Our ground was too frozen. Instead, we hid them in the depths of a closet, where, if embarrassing truth be told, we did not rediscover them until sometime after Easter because the clutter of that closet was so overwhelming. (Since that closet has yet to improve all that much, perhaps this year's Lenten promise for Mommy should involve attacking it!)
In any case, the children (especially Luke!) enjoyed creating Alleluia and Gloria signs to bury and they also liked recovering those signs once we were well into celebrating the Easter season (especially Nina!) So, I think this tradition is a keeper and one that we might enjoy later today or tomorrow. And – wow – with the winter we have been having, we could even bury the words outside this year!
The Runaway Pancake
Finally, a tradition we have already begun again this year is listening to our favorite pancake-related story on CD: Marsupial Sue Presents "The Runaway Pancake" .
In fact, this fun story worked a minor miracle in my opinion the other morning:
Nina was having an unusually long tantrum which ebbed and flowed between whininess and full-blown screaming, crying and flailing limbs. Since we had to get to an appointment, I was doing my best to remain calm, to ignore and, then, to try to redirect her behavior, but was having little success with it. By the time we got into our van to leave for the appointment, I was losing patience and was not looking forward to listening to Nina’s outburst for the 40+ minute drive we had ahead of us. So, I prayed – both to myself and out loud.
Then, over the din of Nina’s meltdown, I asked Luke what he would like to listen to in the car since it was his turn to pick a CD. To my surprise, he abdicated his turn, offering that Nina could choose a CD “to help her be happy.” Choose she did and it worked!
As Luke and Nina spoke and sang along with The Runaway Pancake (and Jack chair-danced to it), the more common Nina returned – a joyful, playful one.
Hoorah for The Runaway Pancake!
Over the next two days, we will certainly be recalling this incident and talking about how prayer and giving played into our experience that morning. We will also talk more about where the pancakes-before-lent tradition came from, and, of course, eat loads of pancakes tomorrow.
So, there you have it. A year late. Sharings of our pre-Lenten traditions-in-the-making.
How about yours? I'd be thrilled if you'd share how you prepare for and observe the beginning of Lent in a comment. There seem to be so many ways to help our young children to understand the significance of this Liturgical season. When I am not overwhelmed by it coming up so quickly, I enjoy being inspired by them.