The first way that my children became involved in a hands-on way to our family’s Religion was through the family altar. They took their own interpretation of the holiday and brought things that were meaningful to display there. We have had everything from Yu Gi Oh cards to bits of moss that were found in the backpack after a weekend in the mountains.
The altar from year to year changes as they grow older and find deeper meaning in each celebration. This year is our first in our new home. The environment is completely foreign to us here so there are no leaves to choose from, there are no acorns to gather and Indian corn to pierce and make necklaces from. All the things we normally do to make our Fall harvest altar are not around.
Or are they?
We now live next to thousands of acres of wheat. They make wonderful small wreaths when spiraled into shape. There are beautiful thistles and wild Rye stalks that make fantastic dried bouquets.
Our animals are now livestock that we get milk and eggs from. That is special and very different from any other year. We are planning a day of animal blessing, using our chicken’s feathers for decoration on the altar and photos of our goats with wild flower wreaths around their necks. Our sheep would only pose with a wildflower wreath on his head because his neck is just so very big.
Some things stay constant, the altar itself is always with us no matter where we live. Some things belong on it year after year that connect our family to its short history.
We once again put the photo, tuft of hair and collar of our beloved family dog on the altar. Our small fountain goes in the corner with the sound of trickling water to draw your attention and help your mind wander. We made leaves and pumpkins out of paper and decorated them, remembering from days past how we gathered them from the front lawn and never imagining that we wouldn’t have a leaf in our yard.
Finally, our celebration this year is more about the goodness that our animals and garden have provided for us. Things certainly do change but we find that there is always something to celebrate in our life that is reflected in that special place: our family altar.