Disclaimer: This idea is not something I found anywhere online or in any Catholic celebration books. I thought of it myself, so it is by no means any sort of Catholic tradition. Perhaps it should be, though!
For those of you with family birthdays clustered around Christmas and/or Easter, you have probably noticed the terribly long gap between Easter and Christmas in terms of having something BIG for your children to look forward to. I know we certainly noticed! Plus, my kids usually get a new toothbrush in their Christmas stocking and in their Easter basket, but if you have chewing toddlers, Easter’s toothbrush certainly will not make it to Christmas (nor should it – ewww!). Neither will the coloring book that appeared in their Easter basket make it through the summer.
So, I came up with what my children refer to as their “Mary Bag.” Every year, for the Solemnity of the Assumption, they get a bag of goodies similar to a Christmas stocking or an Easter basket. The tote bags I use are from Portrait Innovations, which are generally a promotional item offered closer to All Saints’. Each child can easily identify which bag is his or hers thanks to the giant picture on the front. Anyway, every year the tote bags are filled and my children look forward to opening their surprises after breakfast. It certainly brightens up the long summer for them.
As for connecting this with today’s Marian solemnity, for the past two years, they have each received a Marian Shining Light Doll in their bag, but now that we have the entire Marian collection, I will have to come up with something else to tie in with Our Lady for next year’s bag.
Here is a look at one of this year’s bags:
- something Marian: Shining Light Doll
- new toothbrush
- picture book about a saint
- coloring book: generic from the Dollar Store
- store-bought toys: one place setting for each kid from this dish set
- home-made toys: 3 new play dough mats (double-sided card stock, laminated)
- special snack for lunch: organic grape fruit strip
- candy: nothing says summer like water taffy!
So, that’s our Mary Bag. I also do have a few other ideas that I use to try and make today’s holy day feel special for my children:
- Decorate the living room mantel. I have a statue of Our Lady that only appears during the month of August.
- Serve sunflower seeds to the kids. Sunflowers are Mary’s Gold.
- Read the last story from this beautiful Catholic Children’s Bible to the children: it is about St. John’s vision of Our Lady as found in Revelation, told in a way that beautifully explains today’s feast day to young children.
- Read The Sunflower Parable as their bedtime book. For more information about this cute book, visit this post.
- Listen to some Marian CDs or a Marian music playlist.
- Attend Holy Mass as a family. This is a holy day of obligation, yes, but going as a family makes it feel more important to my children (as opposed to one parent taking the kids to a separate Mass).
Hopefully, by instituting these traditions, the Solemnity of the Assumption will have its own unique holiday feel to it for my children. Part of the motivation driving my quest for intentional seasonality within our family, from as early an age as possible, is that I want to make celebrations like today’s a unique day for my children that they can look forward to; one that does not just feel like just another day for Mary. I hope and pray that by celebrating this way my children will benefit from the Church’s liturgical calendar more fully.
Happy Solemnity! Our Lady of Grace, pray for us!!!