I take my responsibility as a Catholic parent to pass the Faith along to my children very seriously. For a while it felt hypocritical – teaching, for example, the lives of the Saints to my kids when I didn’t know the stories myself. As the years have gone by I’ve come to see it differently – I am teaching my kids, but rather than always passing on knowledge I already have, I revel in the opportunities for us to learn together. After all, the learning is a lifelong process; it doesn’t end until we’ve reached our Heavenly destination.
In that vein, at least a couple of years ago now I asked for a guide to celebrating feast days with children. I received as a Christmas gift this book: Feast Days and Holidays: Living and Celebrating Our Catholic Traditions (Living and Celebrating Our Catholic Customs and Traditions). I had used it quite a bit before my 2-year-old was born, and just this week pulled it out from where it had been buried for the past year since we moved. It includes both Catholic feast days and secular holidays (everything from Mother’s Day to Human Rights Day, which is apparently this week – December 10th), and has a brief explanation, a prayer, and a series of activities. Some of them are much too advanced for my kids, but it usually gives me a good starting point for talking to my kids.
Just yesterday was the Feast of St. Nicholas. For the past few years we’ve all been getting little gifts – usually candy canes – in our shoes on St. Nicholas Day, just like I did when I was a little girl in Catholic school (I actually remember putting my shoe outside the door of my kindergarten classroom and getting a candy cane from St. Nick) and as suggested in the Feast Days book.
For Saints’ feast days, I also used two books about saints for kids: Picture Book of Saints: Illustrated Lives of the Saints for Young and Old and My First Book of Saints. The first is more comprehensive and easier to navigate (the index is in alphabetical order), but the second is a little better for little kids – it is simpler and a little less explicit (particularly in stories of the martyrs). I use both of them, though, and often put the stories together from both for a more complete picture that I paraphrase for the kids.
So, we’ll pull out the Feast Days book again tomorrow for Immaculate Conception, and then again on the 10th for Human Rights Day (if I remember, of course, for both days…), and hopefully get back in the habit. The kids love it, and it’s fun for me, too! 🙂