Sunday, January 7, 2018

Epiphany - Traditions and Transformation

Happy Epiphany!

Today, our home is a mess, we're still buried in snow, and the rest of life seems perfectly imperfect, too.  However, that did not prevent us from celebrating the Epiphany!  In fact, our traditions carried us through all the imperfection to embrace this wonderful feast day.


Our morning, of course, started with Mass, where we were blessed to hear a meaningful homily that reminded us that "God sees our sacrifices - big or small - as gifts" and also that "every good gift God gives us us given o us for a reason - to share."  We are "given a healing balm to give one another" and are encouraged to "take what we receive and go out to give it to others."  Mercy.  Grace.  Consolation.  Dignity. Joy.  All this is given.  All this is meant to be shared.

Symbolic Eats

I would love to make beautiful, tasty, elaborate feast day meals as some families do, but between life's busyness and all of our different dietary needs and preferences here, most traditional recipes just don't work for us.  So, we've developed our own repertoire of symbolic simple eats for feast days, and, today that meant our now-traditional simple "donut stable", gifts from the Magi, and star.

This year our gold was eggs; our frankincense was cashews with cinnamon (thus aromatic and reminding us of the sweet smell of incense); and our myrrh was baby kale (which we know is not a healing oil, but which is good for the body!)

Our star this year was made with defrosted blueberries and pineapple pieces.

We also had rich ruby kingly juice for the kids and golden mango-honey smoothies for Mom and Dad.

Before the meal, of course, we prayed, then, we used the food and decor to prompt a chat about the story and significance of the Magi visiting Baby Jesus to pay homage.

Books, Books, Books (and Figurine Puppets)

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No feast day here ever seems to pass without some reading, and, today, we had a stack of books to choose from and, thus, as he children ate second and third portions of our symbolic eats, we began a mini-marathon with picture books.

First came The Christmas Baby which takes a few liberties with the nativity story, but also has a sweet message at its end about smiling back with God's own smile.  I read this to the children as my pick because it reminded me of the homily we had heard and how no matter what we have been gifted with - even something as small as a smile - it can bring great joy to share it.

Then, we moved onto one of the children's favorites, Humphrey's First Christmas.  Oh, how I love to hear my children laugh at the story and illustrations as the camel Humphrey attempts to get what he wants at the beginning of this story - a blanket.  And, oh, how I love the quiet beauty that descends when we read how Humphrey ends up finding finding true warmth as he gives his blanket to Baby Jesus.  Plus, the book ties in so nicely with the just-passed feast day for he Holy Name of Jesus.

After that, the children asked for "the one we always read": Three Wise Kings.  We just LOVE this classic story which we now own in the Joy to the World collection.


Next up, we browsed They Followed a Bright Star and The Third Gift, which we'd read earlier in the week, recalling how the former title helped us think of people Jesus would come into contact with later in his life (even as it made us question why anyone would wait to encounter Jesus) and how the latter one helped us imagine what it was like for a boy who collects myrrh and how myrrh was once used.

By then, the children were done eating and ready to gather more closely around beautiful images, so we inspected the Giotto fresco of the Adoration of the Magi and read the accompanying text in The Glorious Impossible.

... and did the same in The Life of Jesus.

We then revisited The Little Boy's Christmas Gift, which has become a perennial favorite for us, with beautiful illustrations and a reminder that we each have something we can offer, and, sometimes, even the bits and bobs others take no notice of, can become wonderful gifts we share to make Jesus smile.

Finally, we enjoyed the illustrations of We Three Kings while singing the carol in the book.

During some of these readings, the children also began acting out stories using our figurines as puppets - with reminders to be careful!


After story time, it was time for the children to process, singing, to place our Magi figures in our nativity sets. 

Each of them was eager to do this, and it made me smile, savoring the moment as I snapped a few pictures, wondering if a time will come when they will feel too big for such traditions.

Luckily, that time has not yet come.


Also, o my amusement, they are not too old to enjoy other little traditions of ours, it seems.  For, before I knew it, one child had upturned a stool, gotten a baby doll and other props and called to siblings to enact the Magi coming to give Jesus tribute.

As they knelt in character, I asked them each to step out of character and to share a gift they have that they might offer others this year.  

They had their own ideas for gifting forward, of course.  

My Mama's heart, though, thought, Your smiles.  Your joy.  Those alone are such a gift when shared.



Magi near Jesus.

Baby Jesus gifted with even a blanket from a camel.

Action stopped for a short period of quiet and reflection (and, okay, some watching of football for dad and he boys!)

Chalking the Doors

Then, finally, it was time to take the chalk we'd asked our priest to bless after Mass, some printouts from Rosary Bay (meant for a priest to lead, but adapted for home use), and Holy Water to bless our home.

Of course, doing just the front door was not enough for my children.  One wanted to do every door and even swung on a trapeze to complete her work.

And, so it was, we celebrated this Epiphany and now move forward, knowing, as our priest reminded us this morning, that "the work of Christmas begins when the 12 Days of Christmas end."  It is time to be transformed by our encounter with Christ and to live in relationship with Him, loving Him and one another by gifting forward. How might we choose, moment by moment, thought by thought, word by word, action by action, to live like those who have been in the presence of Our Lord?

Praying your Epiphany was filled with blessings and delight and that you are ready to go out into the world, transformed by your encounter with Christ.


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