Here's the thing about family traditions: a few of them are their very own living, breathing, organism, crawling into existence from some primordial soup without any intelligent design on your part. They just happen. Like the way my dad calls us on our birthdays each year and says, with a breath of fresh originality, the following: "Well, thank the Lord He's given you another year." It's like clockwork. If he misses a year, part of Antarctica slides into the Waddell Sea.
But most family traditions require some effort. Some effort, some creativity, sometimes when you least feel like calling things not being as being.
Take last weekend, for example. I wanted to do something for the kids in celebration of February being sort of the Month of Love. But at the same time, I have this Japan class I'm teaching and have to prepare for each week, I have a big article deadline coming up, etc. My brain felt sluggish, lazy, inert. Creativity lay gasping and blue-lipped on the floor.
But a little voice in my head reminded me that traditions, which both anchor and adorn a cozy home, are worth a bit of exertion. So I just got out a shoebox. I knew the annual AAH Valentine's Party wasn't going to happen for us this year, as tempting as it was to reunite with old friends. The kids would have loved it, but cranking out sixty valentines plus a box by Tuesday morning just ... well, pardon the pun, but ... wasn't in the cards.
But a shoebox, we can do.
And with a pile of paper scraps and a bottle of Mod Podge, the girls and I went to work. Their enthusiasm knew no bounds, and we finished our Love Box as The Professor and the Boy watched the second half of the Super Bowl. (Meh. No Patriots. Who cares.)
Here's the result. Note! Let us all repeat the Cardinal Rule of Crafting with Children: Forget the vision, people. It's all about process ... and letting go.
The idea is that for the rest of the month, or until the zeal wanes to its embers, we leave little notes for each other inside the box, to be opened at dinnertime. A pad of pink paper lies at the ready. Here was last night's harvest:
There were some shining eyes and secret smiles warming our dinner table, I can guarantee you that.
And we beheld the work of our hands, and it was very good.
P.S. We're also memorizing the famous passage that defines the true nature of love from 1 Corinthians chapter 13. Check it out here.