One of the best things about raising kids is passing on our spiritual and national heritage.
Obviously our Christian faith is of utmost priority; that’s a major reason why we homeschool them. But it doesn’t stop there. Our calendars are filled with holidays, national observances, special days, and historical events. We have so much to discuss and celebrate, if only we take the time.
Ah, yes. The time. That’s the bug in the program.
Some traditions take almost no effort to pass on. Between family and church, our children catch the excitement and joy of Christmas easily. Easter is also an easy one: our church emphasizes traditional liturgy, where Easter is the grand event of the entire year.
But others are harder. Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veterans’ Day… they all jostle each other for room. Then there are the fun ones, like Valentine’s Day, Pi Day (March 14—3.14, get it?), or Star Wars Day (May 4, as in “May the 4th be with you.” I didn’t make these up.) And what about the random ones marked on some calendars, like “National Donut Day”?
How do you fit them all in? Well, let me tell you how we do it: We don’t.
That is, we don’t observe every occasion every year with fanfare. I think that Hallmark commercials, magazine articles, and Pinterest have convinced us that “celebration” involves special decorations, elaborate baking projects, and entire afternoons built around one theme. Even for those who enjoy planning events like that, it’s too much for every occasion.
When our older kids were young, we had more energy and less experience. We tried harder to make every occasion memorable. But little kids don’t remember what you think they will. You bake patriotic-themed cupcakes and talked about courageous soldiers; they remember that there were little blue stars on the icing. You ask, “And what was the name of the ship that the Pilgrims sailed on?” and they say, “Cauliflower.”*
*This is a true story.
Gradually, we relaxed our approach. “Observing” a day is sometimes merely ten minutes tacked onto supper. Every few years on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Darren will read aloud “I Have a Dream” and discuss the circumstances around it. On other days, we’ve visited memorials for the Armed Forces memorial or the Korean War. Less spectacularly, we’ve colored pages on Flag Day before, and made crowns on Three Kings Day.
As the kids get older and gain more context, they understand more. This year in history, Sparkler and I read about World War I and the devastating loss of life. So next Memorial Day will mean more to her than a mere plaque in a cemetery did before.
We try to make at least a mention of most special days, but don’t fret if we miss one. We’ll catch it next year, or maybe the next. It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. After all, our spiritual and national heritage took generations to form.
So, no worries. Do what you can, and enjoy the process. You’ll find that, in the long run, the voyage of the noble vessel Cauliflower will not be forgotten.
Photo Credit: Second image courtesy of Sara Jones.