Why do I feel like the hazard lights are going off in my brain: DANGER! DANGER! What I hoped would be a quiet, reflective Holy Week has started off with weirdness. Yesterday, Palm Sunday, did not turn out to be a day of remembering Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem – we didn’t even get to make our fig ice cream. The day was spent moving Dominic into his room, which also involved moving two beds around. Setting up Dominic’s double bunk bed turned out to be a “pig”, as Philip put it. A real pig. It took ages. We had to put it together and take it apart a few times before it was in sleepable condition.
Lydia’s Easter outfit is still unfinished on the dining room table, so it’ll be like VHS fast forward in that room trying to put it together before Sunday. I got stuck on the bloomers. I had to recut and sew them twice because I messed up. Today I had to take Daisy our dog to the vet because she scratched her ear so violently it was bleeding. She has a double ear infection, but $250 later she has squeaky clean ears and ear drops to clear it up.
I haven’t shopped for Easter dinner, the house looks like the proverbial tornado blew through, and tomorrow we’ll be in Berkeley for the entire day, probably leaving further disaster in our path as we exit — stage left — for the van in the morning.
Can I save the week? I know I’m not the only one in this position. We imagine our Holy Week path as one of quiet virtue, a chorus of monks chanting in the background while our children sit sweetly, unwrinkled, shined up, very holy and cheery looking, praying the family rosary with gladness. The reality is less sacred. There’s oodles of laundry to conquer. We’re pretty sure nobody has any clean underpants to wear on Easter Sunday let alone decent clothing. Forget pastels and creased slacks. I just need the kids to be in actual clothing and not their pajamas!
Can I save the week? I may not be able to do it if I stay in my busy head, but I know if I follow God’s plan for my family this week, it’ll be fine. I’m taking a deep breath tonight. I’ll prioritize as much as possible. I had big, big plans for the week, but I realize my priority is to communicate to my children the spirit of the week. It’s a week of sorrow and mourning, but also of hope. While I will do what I can to introduce these ideas in a concrete way through the activities I had planned, just reading, talking, and praying together is even more important. There’s great value in the visible and concrete especially for young children, but I’ll ensure the spirit doesn’t get lost in my Big Plans.
Some activities are especially suited to communicating the spirit of the Lenten season, so I’ll focus on those. I was thinking of observing Holy Thursday with a recollection dinner of the Last Supper as Mary Reed Newland suggests in her book The Year & Our Children. She would serve her family the foods Christ would have eaten on that Passover Thursday: roast lamb, unleavened bread, a salad of bitter herbs (endive, chicory, lettuce, sorrel, dandelion), and roasted egg, Jewish symbol of mourning. I wouldn’t make it so elaborate, but some symbolism in Thursday’s dinner would be nice.
On Good Friday, the day on which Christ suffered crucifixion and death, I would like the day to be solemn and observant. Historically Christians spent this day in prayer, no games were played, no jokes told, no laughing. I’m not sure my children can handle that level of solemnity, but I can help them understand the spirit of the day. As a day of mourning, we’ll place a black cloth over our crucifix and over the cross in a little garden Easter display we have on our seasonal table. The children have followed their Lenten sacrifices with little complaining – I’m so proud of them. I plan to ask them for one more great sacrifice on Good Friday: no television or computer games all day. The day’s food will be very simple. I was thinking of making Hot Cross Buns, a traditional bread marked with a cross served on Good Friday in England. I hunted around for a recipe that doesn’t include powdered milk, which I don’t like. I’ve included the recipe I’m trying at the end of this post. I plan to use whole wheat flour for at least part of the recipe.
On Holy Saturday, the spirit of the day is one of watching and waiting. This is so easy with kids, because they are anticipating Easter with such enthusiasm! On this day we’ll decorate Easter eggs, clean, and do some of the Easter dinner preparations. The kids will try painting their Easter eggs with symbols and patterns inspired by the Ukrainian Easter eggs in this photo. Ours will certainly be less expert, but no less special.
Surrender. I will move through the week with prayer in my day and Sunday on my heart, allowing God to guide my steps as I guide my children. My demeanor and my emotional state affect those of my children. I don’t want my children to see some crazed mother with a ham in one hand and an iron in the other — frazzled, unhappy, unappealing. Surrender. I invite the Holy Spirit to anoint me with the love God so that I can anoint my own children in turn.
Here’s the Hot Cross Buns recipe, found on Simply Recipes:
Hot Cross Buns for Good Friday
- 1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast (about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
- 3/4 cup warm milk
- 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated white sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground spices (for example, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 Tbsp butter, softened
- 2 eggs, room temperature (if taking right out of the fridge, let sit in warm water for a few minutes to take the chill off before using)
- 3/4 cup currants (can sub half of currants with chopped candied citrus peel)
- 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp milk
- 1 teaspoon milk
- 3 to 4 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 In a bowl, stir together 1/4 cup of the warmed milk and one teaspoon of sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.
2 In a large bowl or the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, vigorously whisk together 3 cups of the flour (reserving additional flour for later step), the salt, spices, and 1/4 cup of sugar.
3 Create a well in the flour and add the foamy yeast, softened butter, and eggs, and the remaining milk. Using a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of your mixer, mix the ingredients until well incorporated. The mixture should be shaggy and quite sticky. Add in the currants, candied peel, and orange zest.
4 If you are using a stand-up mixer, switch to the dough hook attachment and start to knead on low speed. (If not using a mixer, use your hands to knead.) Slowly sprinkle in additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, kneading to incorporate after each addition, until the flour is still slightly tacky, but is no longer completely sticking to your fingers when you work with it.
5 Form a ball of dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit, covered, at room temperature (or in a warm spot) for 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
6 Press down on the dough to gently compress it. Roll the ball of dough into a log shape and cut it into two halves. Place one half back in the bowl while you work with the other half. Take the dough half you are working with and cut it into 8 equal pieces. The easiest way to do this is to roll it into a log, cut it in half, then roll those pieces into logs, cut them in half, and then do it again, roll those pieces into logs, and cut them in half.
Take the individual pieces and form them into mounds, placing them 1 1/2 inches apart from each other on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and then work the remaining dough into 8 equal pieces and place them in mounds on a baking sheet, again cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough mounds sit at room temperature (or warm place) to rise again, until the mounds have doubled in volume, about 30-40 minutes.
7 Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare egg wash by whisking together one egg and a tablespoon of milk. If you want, you can score the top of the buns with a knife in a cross pattern. You will want to make fairly deep cuts, for the pattern to be noticeable after they’re done. Using a pasty brush, brush on the egg wash over the dough mounds. The egg wash will give them a shiny appearance when cooked.
8 Place in the middle rack of the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, until the buns are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool.
9 To paint a cross on the top of the buns, wait until the buns have cooled (or the frosting will run). Whisk together the milk and the powdered sugar. Keep adding powdered sugar until you get a thick consistency. Place in a plastic sandwich bag. Snip off a small piece from the corner of the bag and use the bag to pipe two lines of frosting across each bun to make a cross.
Yield: Makes 16 buns