We are a Catholic family of six living in Southeastern Virginia. James is an Eagle Scout, amateur chef, crazy organic gardener, and engineering manager for a defense contractor. Deirdre is a baker, crazy home organizer, seamstress/ needle worker, and an occasional out-of-the-home civil engineer. We have four children (2 boys, 12 and 9, and 2 girls, 6 and 9 months) and we live in the middle of a medium-sized city. James and Deirdre met while in college in Louisiana. They got married in New Orleans after school, moved to Virginia with the Navy and have been living there ever since (much to the dismay of the grandparents half a continent away). This geographical separation from family has colored their lives and caused them to be reliant on each other and to cultivate close relationships with their church, friends and neighbors.
Before thoroughly discussing how we celebrate family, we thought it would be best to ask our children how they best like to celebrate with the family. During quiet, individual times with each of our older children (ages 12, 9, and 6), we queried them about their favorite family activities. All three answered with “playing games together”; two agreed that “sharing meal times” were special; and two (different combination) agreed that “praying together” made for favorite family time. We’re guessing the baby (9 months) would vote for meal times, as she recently weighed in at 23.5 pounds!
Deirdre was raised in a family of game players. Her mother is a cutthroat Bourré player and her sister is unbeatable at Trivial Pursuit. She has fond memories of family card or board games played around the den coffee table. James was lured into the fun during the dating years, and, as we furnished our first home, we created a coffee table from a large dining table in order to accommodate game boards and guest players. And so, the gaming tradition continues around our family (and friends) table. Current family favorites include Apple To Apples, UNO, Scattergories, and Dominoes.
Sharing meal times takes on a whole new meaning in our kitchen. James has always been an avid chef. Deirdre is a reluctant cook. And there’s a difference:) Over the years, we’ve fallen into a routine of Deirdre doing prep work and souse chef work, while James actually creates gourmet fare for our family table. As the children have grown, they’ve been added into the meal making bedlam. Dinner, from the planning, through the preparation and the eating, is a group effort. Everyone who wanders through the kitchen (even guests) gets an apron and a task. We’ve come to realize that the “breaking of bread” starts long before sitting at the table. It is a great conversation time with the kids drifting in and out to talk. They have learned that dinner prep is a good time to catch Mama and Daddy together for questions.
Lately, meal preparation and sharing includes music (Marcia Ball or Norah Jones) and occasional dancing; lots of laughter, much direction and teaching, some scolding when necessary for little people safety, and a great deal of elbow bumping as the space is shared by five or six. We learn about what books are being read, what new inventions have been conjured in the imagination, what butterflies were chased in the yard, or simply what concerns need to be tended.
Prayer takes on many forms in our house. We don’t generally sit as a group to pray other than for meals. We pray individually, with each of the kids so that their prayers are age appropriate, at grace before meals and as a community at Mass, especially at events like the recent baptism of our youngest.
One of our favorite quotes, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, is “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” That pretty well sums up our family’s approach toward prayer and living the faith. It is not who we are on Sunday, but who we are everyday, quietly and nonchalantly going about our daily routines. Each family member sees, experiences, and serves God in their own unique way in the context of the family (the domestic church) and the larger context of the whole Church. We love that our children see all of this as praying with “family.”
We thank Cocoa for allowing us the opportunity to share our celebrations of Family. Peace!
And much thanks to Deirdre and James! They are not bloggers but Deirdre often leaves comments on my blog. What a terrific start to our celebration of family!
If you have written any posts about your family or covered any topics in the Family Proclamation on your blog leave a link here so others can come and read!