- Quite a few years ago, I decided that the holiday season was just too full of thoughts and energy surrounding the "stuff we get." (As the parent of 8 children, I just didn't see any way around the holidays being a disappointment because of tight finiancial circumstances.) Children are naturally generous, but we can really ruin that by making the holidays about material things- which, let's face it, they won't remember a month from now, much less as they grow into adults.
- So I decided to use, loosely, the lesson of Esther and create a month of meditation on the "service we give." Let's just try to do something simple in the service of others. Acts of kindness. Memories of time spent with family that will last them a lifetime. Not about stuff that money can buy, but about service that can be freely given.
- Hence, Feast Days! On the first day of December, the children draw numbers to set up the sequence of Feast days- all fitting within the month of December, but may overflow into January. After the numbers have been drawn they all meet with me, individually, in my room and make out their menu for their Feast. It's all a grand secret. It becomes obvious that they have been putting a lot of thought into their menus for several months- and keeping it a secret- amazing! They try their best to choose dishes that are family favorites- ones they know their brothers and sisters will love. They also plan how they are going to decorate the kitchen and what small gift they hope to give their siblings- there is a $5 limit on all 6 gifts and decorations, so you can imagine they are quite simple- like a pretty sparkly pencil, a holiday cup or a fancy bit of candy. The decorations can be gleaned from the attic and with a bit of tinsel thrown in, it usually is quite festive!
- I usually take each child to lunch before their feast and then we go shopping for their ingredients. They have to heft all the food into the house while the other children are hiding upstairs. The kitchen is curtained off from prying eyes and we begin to cook. What fun this is for me to have the company of each child as they excitedly giggle and whisper about who is going to be the most surprised and who is going to like which dish the most!
- Then, my favorite part. The child opens the curtain and very ceremoniously invites his guests to the feast. The children are so sweet and encouraging about the decoations and the good smells. We sit around the table and Bill reads a scripture then we each say what we are thankful for and after the prayer, the feasting begins. The server is the child who prepared the feast and they always wait until last to serve their own plate. The food is usually stashed away in the oven to stay warm and so it is a lot of fun to see what comes out next!
- Finally the dishes are done by me and the host. More time together and the feast ends.
This is Boo and she's a doll. Just a doll. She is one of those children that is very easily pleased and has no trouble making up her mind about what she likes and doesn't like. Take her to the candy store and she see what she wants right away! No dithering around, worrying about making the right/wrong choice. She's not crazy about big rambunctious dogs- which puts our dog on the list. She is silly and fun- as you can probably tell by the sparkle in her eyes. She loves to dress up and she put on her best frock for the occasion. Her feast was so uniquely Boo. She had all the bacon you can eat- a rarity in a big family. And sausages and then she served pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream. She made little kabobs of fruit and marshmallows. For dessert she made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing and sprinkles- the girl loves her chocolate. Oh, and she had chocolate milk. Her gifts were little penny mazes- you know the ones with a tiny ball that you have to get to the center of the maze. Jacob won first with his maze. I John 4:6-11 was our reading- about loving others as God loved us and gave his son. We had a grand time, but now I need to be rolled to bed!