Friday, December 01, 2006

Feast Day Celebrations!

Well now! It would seem fitting that some in our family were celebrating this week prior to this posting. This writing comes to you today as my 300th blog posting!


Feast Day Celebrations...
come in all sorts of interesting forms...

Heading for a friend's "50th
Hawaiian themed" birthday party
prior to our move.

Never in my life have I felt long winded, but since our move out to the east, and when studying the simple moments life has to offer I’m hoping to share with others, it appears there is plenty to write about. We just all cheat ourselves out of counting our many blessings, and seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty.

One of many favorite books I own is called “Frugal Luxuries by; Tracey McBride”. It is long out of print and seems to be very difficult to find, but somehow I managed to find two on the internet, hoarding them both to myself, one though will be a gift someday to some lucky person (wink).

Within the pages of this book are found "simple pleasures to enhance your life and comfort your soul" no money can buy, and everyone can be creative even if they have no money at all. I love this paragraph entry into a new chapter titled “Entertaining: Gracious moments”;

The ancient Roman philosopher Seneca set a table of humble yet delicious foods before his friends and asked, “When shall we live if not now?” Do not wait for that longed-for someday to savor the blessings of celebration. The house needen’t be perfectly decorated or remodeled, the china need not match, and the foods do not have to be grand or expensive. All that is necessary to pleasantly enjoy the company of family and friends is to care. This affection will be made visible in thoughtfully prepared foods, presented in a warm and inviting setting.”

Within the course of one year, I personally find there is an abundance of items to celebrate. Here in our home, we have always found good reasons to feast! Often, the smallest of milestones, the most special moments day to day living offers us, are but two outside of the typical others.

We love to celebrate!

Actually, there is something memorable about each toast offered on occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries for all reasons, newly engaged children with family dinner lingering, new houses, new jobs, new opportunities, a change of season, a family impromptu brunch, a pregnancy announcement, such things as something so simple as a backyard cookout with hubby making his famous burgers.

The calendar holds much promise. The problem lay with us, in our busyness of life, unable to find a moment to relax long enough to fully enjoy these opportune moments presented before us, or having a lack of energy from an overwhelming lifestyle. I can say that because I’ve been there, done that too! Life alone, living and breathing offers an opportunity to celebrate! And, I have yet to mention other most important dates to note and highlight on the calendar, individual specialty days to celebrate, baptismal anniversaries and name days, patron saint feast days, a day someone overcame a vice or met their future spouse, the exact date you moved into your home as a reason to have candles on the dinner table when the anniversary date comes along, the birth of a grandbaby, a family event with out-of-town guests, or honoring and remembering the day a relative or special friend left this earth for a better place.

Over my own life’s many years, my heart holds many special memories of simple yet thoughtful moments which transpired spontaneously.

Here are ten off the top of my head, but as I remarked, I am so blessed to have a plethora of them!

1 - The single rose my boyfriend brought me just when I was sure he was a hopeless cause. (now my hubby who brings me flowers all the time!)

2 - The cassette tape with a favorite, thoughtful, most perfect song one daughter found for us, then played it while hubby and I ate an anniversary dinner two of them had made to surprise us later in the evening.

3 - The day two precious friends and I couldn't connect for my birthday, so instead they came to celebrate with me in my own home carting goodies and we feasted in the family room together in front of the fireplace. I'll never forget!

4 - One of the many special family thanksgiving dinners together, when one son was reunited with family after a hockey move away. His appreciation speech for his family at the table still warms my heart!

5 - My mother bringing me a hot latte when I was going through a very rough life experience shortly before giving birth to our eighth child. She said it was to celebrate the impending occasion. It was the gentle thought that mattered so much more than the latte of course. I’ll never forget it, among other things at that time in my life!

6 - Remembering Valentine's day in a special, yet simple way, as this was the night when cupid was working hard (along with my husband's sister!) to get us closer together. The rest they say, is history.

7 - Holding my newborn grandchildren for the first time, giving them a wee blessing, then remembering that wonderful feeling envelope me knowing all was well with everyone after the deliveries. These celebratory emotions will always be with me. They make me smile and thank God for new life every time those dates await us on the calendar again year after year.

8 - Having a girl’s night with all our daughters (but the youngest at the time) to celebrate an upcoming wedding. That was fun!

9 - The candle in the half grapefruit at the Christmas brunch table the first year I spent it with my new extended family.

10- The day after a son was born, when my hubby came back to the hospital dressed in his finest suit and sporting a tie (!), also carrying flowers for me. It wasn't a usual thing for him to do, he hadn't done it before, so automatically I thought he was headed somewhere special after he visited with me. I was wrong however when he told me simply he came to give honor to me and our new son on this wonderful occasion. He continued to surprise me as the years progressed, always something valuable to tink our glasses to together.

In this writing, I want to encourage you to sit with your next cup of hot something or other, pen/pencil in hand, calendar before your eyes at the table (you must sit!) and search with fresh eyes finding moments throughout the year to grace your calendar squares with reasons for feasting. Do you even know the original date you had with your spouse when the path of the future was beginning to lay out before you? How about some other significant moment to celebrate, one that’s only yours alone?

“New things are made familiar, and familiar things are made new.”

- Samuel Johnson

We certainly haven’t had a shortage on our calendar to carve out special times over the years. In fact, as I mentioned; if one took a moment to sincerely peruse the family calendar well enough, there is so very much to celebrate - all the time. Don't wait for only those glorious and momentous occasions, find the "simple" and enjoy making a memory together. This past week we had several reasons to feast and honor others, perhaps not all in person, but from a distance.

Feast days celebrate a significant event or a person, and if we value people in our lives, they matter more than things! So what are you waiting for?

“He that if of a merry heart hath a continual feast.”

- Proverbs

This week, three of us celebrated our Patron Saint's feast days a few days apart. Two of us share the same Saint. Of course by steadfast tradition, we give honor to these heavenly friends by celebrating simply, feasting with something tangible to remember the day by, which is usually a cake or pie, and of course if the day falls during the week in the school year, we give complete honor by taking the day off as a gentle reminder this is truly something special worth remembering in one of our family member’s life. Everyone is content as a result and the day is incredibly relaxing for all. (psst..., these two still had their pyjamas on...and it's afternoon. smile)

Each member here has clearly marked their feast days during the year on the calendar right up to 2008, and it is with a cherished fondness we encourage and create a small, yet simple memory year after year, which these great days invoke in our hearts and minds.

“Their memories will be encrusted over
with sublime and pleasing thoughts.”

- Henry David Thoreau

With the turning of the calendar page today, we celebrate the first day of Advent and the first day of a new church year as well. We mark this the time of year to prepare our hearts during this special season. Many special liturgical celebrations fall this month, many favorites for all here even after all these years. This weekend we will light the first purple candle on our Advent wreaths. New beginnings worth celebrating...

Our children are currently rubbing their hands together in the hope of finding something special in their shoes next week, when they are left on the fireplace hearth the night before St. Nicholas' day (a Dutch tradition we have honored for years), which we celebrate each year on December 6th. He is a beloved Saint in this home, the true Santa of all time, a real being who walked and breathed on this earth, living a life for all to revere and honor. In Europe, this day is a reason to have huge feasting! Local Dutch stores offer visits with St. Nicholas and black Pieter, and there is so much to learn about this special Bishop and saintly man at THIS website. Take a look and enjoy! Our yearly traditional items are purchased and ready to go, those we have only upon this day. I’ll keep you posted.

St. Nicholas Feast day, December 6th