Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Got traditions?

I've mentioned Paul Thigpen here before, and have written about how much I enjoy his website, Star of the Sea. But I only recently read his book, Building Catholic Family Traditions, co-authored by his wife, Leisa and published by Our Sunday Visitor.

This lovely book focuses entirely on cementing family bonds through the cultivation and practice of meaningful traditions. Brimming with ideas, suggestions and anecdotes, it will spark your imagination and fuel new activities and traditions in your home. Covering everything from the liturgical year, Mass and prayer, to seasonal and birthday celebrations, to traditions designed to "honor and serve one another in the home," this book is a treasure that I know I'll turn to again and again.

The introductory chapter offers this example of an easy-to-implement holiday tradition, and then builds on why such things are so vital for family life:

Somewhere between the last bite of the cornbread dressing and the first bite of the pecan pie -- that's when the basket is passed around each year at our family's Thanksgiving meal. No, we don't take up a collection to pay for the turkey. Instead, we ask everyone present to drop in the basket one at a time the three small kernels of dried corn we've placed beside each dinner plate. With each kernel, we have them give one reason why they're thankful that day.

It's a small holiday habit, yet we never cease to be deeply moved by the results. Most often each speaker thanks God for someone else present while misty eyes around the table begin to glimmer in the candlelight. And when the guests go home in the evening, they inevitably comment: "I want to do that again next year."

This simple practice requires almost no preparation or expense. But its rewards continue long after the meal is over, rippling out from our table into other homes as well. Such is the power and blessing of a meaningful family tradition.
(Read the rest of the introduction here.)

Building Catholic Family Traditions is a practical, useful, funny and sweet guide to starting, or adding on to, your family's traditions and rituals. As Paul and Leisa note in the introduction, "Traditions reveal the significance of our lives." It's worth the time, planning and effort it takes to make those traditions come alive. They strengthen our families, and, as Pope John Paul II reminded us:

the family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love, and this is a living reflection of and a real sharing in God's love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church His bride.

~~ Familiaris Consortio

Building family traditions isn't something we do only to have a happier home life ... it is something we do to build up the Body of Christ. T

And that's a tradition worth cultivating.

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Becky said...

I refer to this book time and time again. It sure is a great resource!

JennGM said...

Karen, I love this book. Thanks for the review. Thanks also for posting Paul Thigpen's website. I wasn't aware of it, and it has some great material. I'm also going to be on the lookout for his children's books.

Karen E. said...

Yeah, his website is great, isn't it? Chock full ....