For what it’s worth, I really don’t like the word staycation. But, since it’s a much shorter title than, “Celebrate Your Faith in the City You Live in During the Summer if You’re Not Taking a Vacation”, I went with it.
Some of you lovely people took (or are taking) a summer vacation. YEA YOU! I recently wrote an article for the Diocese of Austin’s publication, Reflections, about not letting your faith take a vacation this summer. In it, I share some ideas for integrating your faith in the family van.
If you’re like us and your summer vacation is much, much closer to home (say, your backyard), then read on my sweet friends.
1. Visit a different church for Mass every weekend during the summer. I know that Austin and the surrounding areas have some really, really lovely churches. I’m about 1000% sure your city does, too. Go visit them! Did a parish just build a new sanctuary, add a beautiful rose garden, erect a mosiac or new chapel? Is there some history waiting to be discovered? Get your hiney over there and discover it.
2. Hit the confessional booth as a family. We did this last summer, prior to the start of school. What a beautiful way to celebrate the summer and the start of a new school year. Make it a fun outing. Perhaps your family can go to confession, attend Daily Mass and then head to your favorite restaurant or pack a picnic lunch for after the service.
3. Incorporate a service project into your summer plans. We’ve been trying to connect with our friend, Alan Graham, with Mobile Loaves and Fishes to go on a truck run. After the kids’ phenomenal week at MLF Camp last week, that just got moved to the top of the priority list. If MLF isn’t in your city, consider visiting Costco or the grocery story and purchase some supplies for putting together survival bags for the homeless. Stock a food pantry, plant the church garden or anonymously drop off some groceries at a neighbor’s house. Whatever you do, make it something in which the entire family can participate. Suggested survival bag contents: bottle of water, package of peanut butter crackers, 2 pieces of hard candy, prayer card, pair of socks, powdered drink and anything else you think would be a great addition.
4. Cook a meal, or a treat, and deliver it to the priest rectory or convent. I can’t tell you how much my kids look forward to this.
5. Seek out some religious pilgrimages or sites you want to visit and make it a fun day, or overnight, trip. Just an hour south of Austin are the San Antonio missions. There’s also the famous Painted Church tour in Central Texas. No doubt your area has something just as awesome. Make it happen!
6. Enjoy an afternoon bowling, putt-putting, rock climbing, getting a pedicure or some other “get out of the house” activity. And, before you leave, consider leaving an anonymous donation so another person can enjoy an afternoon of fun. Just a few weeks ago, a stranger did that for me! While I was soaking my feet in the tub, she snuck off, paid for my pedicure and slipped out the door before I could say thank you. I left with happy tears because of her generosity.
7. Take your children to the parish Tabernacle and offer up a 15-30 minute time span of prayer in honor of someone your family adores and loves. Then, have your child draw a beautiful picture, include a prayer card notice with the artwork and drop it in the mail. Wouldn’t that be the sweetest thing to find in your mailbox on a hot summer day?
8. Summer always makes me want to start anew. As in, if these little people that live in my house can’t start picking up their toys, it looks like they’re getting donated. Some may call it bribery, I call it creative parenting. Clean out those closets and toy bins and donate the items to charity. Trust me, your kids have enough to play with in the house.
9. Dive into a religious book with your children. For the younger set, there are some great picture books with fewer words that describe some awesome saints. For your older children, do a mini-book club. Consider making it part of your afternoon down time, when the sun is at its hottest, rather than waiting until bedtime when the reading can easily get pushed to the next day.
10. Most importantly, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Maybe this year the vacay thing didn’t work in your favor, but it doesn’t mean that your summer has to be a bust. When I look back on my own childhood, it was never the places I visited that impressed me most, is was how my parents made me feel on our family outings.
Are you living it up at home this summer? What would you add to your list?
For more HDYDI posts, visit my How I Do It Page.