7 Quick Takes Friday (What we didn’t do for Epiphany, dumpling-making plans, and memories of a chapel)

— 1 —
We took chalk to Mass with us on Sunday so we could ask the priest to bless it for us. We were planning to do an Epiphany house blessing on our new home.
The Mass was beautiful and Leo and Daniel were model Mass participants. After the closing hymn, however, we lost our rose-colored glasses.
After Mass, the boys were so busy arguing—right in front of the priest—over who got to hold the chalk that it never got blessed.
We were all so disgruntled by the time we got home that no one wanted to do anything as complicated as writing on a wall.
Besides, it was pouring not just rain, but freezing rain. So we didn’t do the Epiphany house blessing.
If I have learned one thing as a parent, it’s never to assume things will turn out the way you plan. That’s a lesson the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph learned early on, too.
— 2 —
Daniel was riding in the backseat the other day when I started singing “We Three Kings of Orient Are.”
“Mama,” he said. “Do you know the names of the three kings?”
I could tell that he had something he wanted to say.
“Hmm,” I said. “Do you know them?”
“Well,” he said, “one of them is Milky Way. But I can’t remember the others.”
Hey, it’s pretty close to Melchior. And he’s right. We are talking a lot about the kings and stars.
— 3 —
Is your Christmas tree still up? Our Christmas trains have been put away, but our trees are still in place. If I know my husband, they’ll come down this weekend.
My parents have already taken down their tree. They have traditionally left their tree up at least until my younger brother’s birthday at the end of February—because they kept the tree up until his birthdate when he was born in 1981. This year they decided to take it down after Epiphany. My mother was marveling that the tree was still in such great condition, not losing needles at all, and we pointed out that they have never taken down a fresh tree.
It feels like the end of an era, but as my mother wisely says, “All eras have ends.”
— 4 —
John, our boys, and I traveled up to the Brandywine River Museum last weekend to see the Christmas train layout they create there every year.
John and I have been visiting train layouts together for years—long before we had children, in fact—but it’s a lot of fun to take the boys.
And this is a particularly beautiful one, built to look like the local area and using dried plants from the area to create the foliage. They also had a Noah’s ark on display, again all made from the foliage.
Aren’t the animals detailed?
After we looked at the trains, we walked around to look at some of the art in the museum. I remembered it being mostly nature scenes—cows and pigs and fields. But Leo and Daniel both immediately noticed that there were paintings with unclothed women. We had quite a few questions about why they weren’t wearing clothes and why someone would want to paint them that way.
The most exciting part of the trip, of course, was lying on this pew.
Sssh. They’re pretending to be asleep.

— 5 —
Looking for a recipe to try tonight? I can’t recommend trying any of these vintage recipes, but I thought the photos were hilarious.
— 6 —
It’s time for us to start gearing up for my favorite holiday, Chinese New Year! What’s not to love about a holiday that requires no cards, no gifts, no expectations? And—this is the best part—you don’t have to make any of the food yourself. You can just call for take-out.
Last year, though, we did make our own dumplings, and we may try to do that again this year. They were amazing. The other night I was talking with a friend who is from China, and I mentioned we had made dumplings, and she said that she does that too.
“The boys liked rolling out the dough,” I said, and she stopped me.
“You made your own dough?” she said. “You know, you can buy those dumpling wrappers in the store.”
So, here I am desperately trying to make sure my children are exposed to this authentic Chinese experience, and everyone else is buying dumpling wrappers. But I will say they were exceptional. And if you have the time—and someone who can help you like my talented, patient, and marvelous sister—I absolutely recommend trying it.
Or skip the dumplings entirely and buy one of these lion heads. They are only $10 each. Maybe I should order them for every child on my list for Christmas 2014.
— 7 —
On Tuesday night a sprinkler burst in our oldest, most historic building at Loyola University Maryland, my employer, and the water had flooded part of the building. It was an unbearably cold night, and I kept thinking of the firefighters and employees who were working in the terrible weather to save Loyola’s humanities center.
As I was thinking about how much I had taken this beautiful, historic building for granted, I started remembering my childhood visits there. My mother’s uncle was a Jesuit in Boston, and he would stay in that building—Loyola’s Jesuit residence at the time—when he would come to town for Christmas. He always celebrated Christmas Mass for our family in a small chapel there.
I asked my mother if she could pull a few of the photos from our visits to the building then, and—perhaps because she is the best reader of my blog—she did.
There are some of my uncle, Fr. Miles Fay, celebrating Mass.
And there are some where you can see the nativity set we always posed by for a picture.
I’m the one in the middle between my brother Ricky and my sister Shaileen.
The building has been renovated since, and it’s no longer the Jesuit residence. The chapel hasn’t been there for years, but I have vivid memories of our time there—memories that are apparently wrong. I really didn’t think the walls were blue. I didn’t even remember that there were so many windows.
What I do remember, however, is making my First Communion in that chapel 30 years ago this past December. I still remember the moment when Uncle Miles offered me the chalice for the first time. If I only got to hold onto one memory while the others turned fuzzy, I’m so glad that’s one I still have.
Find more quick takes at Jen’s Conversion Diary blog.

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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.