Monday, April 3, 2017

The Triduum With Toddlers

As most of you know, I am not a 'pinterest' mom.  Crafting, creativity, etc... just aren't my gifts. It's not something I mourn, as God has been very good to to me and I have great people in my life who help create a magical childhood for my children... BUT...

Last year, the Holy Spirit (and other mom blogs) completely inspired me and our family had an awesome, age appropriate Triduum experience.  I wrote our plans here, but today I am going to write about what we actually did and how it worked out.

For those of you who don't know, the Triduum, is the 3 day, day.  The days between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, where we observed the greatest mystery of our faith, the reality we have a God who loved us enough to die for us in a painful, horrific, lonely way,  but then, just when all hope was lost... HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD.  The awesomeness is hard to understand for grown ups, but to help little ones move through it is a challenge in itself.  Last year's 'Three Day, Day' went so well, I wanted to write about it and maybe if you have little ones (or big ones) you can incorporate some of the ideas.  The Catholic Church has beautiful liturgies for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil.  BUT, for our family of four (five) children under the age of six, these liturgies just don't work (we've tried). They are beautiful, but they are long. The symbolism is lost on my children and the few times we have attempted to attend, I end up acting REALLY un-Christian trying to manage my little weirdos.  So, we began our very own tradition to get us through this season of littles...  I'm also going to add pictures, because pictures are super fun.

 After school we begin to set up for our Jesus meal.  Apparently, mimicking Seder meals is frowned upon, but that's not what we are trying to accomplish.  Our goal for this night is to eat as Jesus ate and to practice our very own foot washing.  We laid big blankets on the floor of the family room with pillows underneath them.  The boys dress in long t-shirts, tied at the waist with burlap ribbon. Last year, I wrapped malia in scarf around her head.  We all sit on the floor, and say our prayers and then eat a simple meal of delicious 'Jesus Bread' ('Iraqi bread' from the most wonderful bakery- called Ishtar in West Bloomfield for you locals), hummus, sliced apples and cucumbers.  We put all the food on big platters, and the boys got a huge kick out of eating with their hands right off the center platters.  After dinner, I read a simple story of the foot washing, and each child washes the feet of their siblings/mom/dad.  Last year, Little Aaron did not want to get his feet washed at first, and that was a-ok, this night is about calmly and peacefully giving our kids an insight into the mystery of Christ.  By the end of the footwashing, Aaron was game, so we all washed each other's feet.  The cutest by far was watching Malia excitedly get her feet washed by her brothers.  We use VERY little water, because I am mom who doesn't like messes... feel free to do you if you don't mind the mess.  

The kids still talk about this night and our looking forward to it this year... here are some pictures...
ready to go
super excited

the disciples ready for their meal

mama participates too

this kid eats nothing, but he loves him some hummus

messy faces are worth it


love her face in this one.  She totally got into it.

washing their tiny feet

Malia getting her feet washed by her brothers

lol, not sure she understood she wasn't just being spoiled

Aaron allowed us at the end to wash his feet
We wake up in the morning on Good Friday and watch 'the LEGO JESUS STORY'
You guys. My friend Jaime from MOPS wrote about this on facebook a few years ago and we randomly watched it. My boys ask for it all.the.time.  I think it's a great way to tell the story of Christ in a way that makes sense to three little boys (remember, they are very little).  The boys are captivated by it, and I am telling you, like it or not a 2, 3 and 4 year old REALLY can better grasp the mystery of Good Friday by watching it played out in legos. I promise.

After watching, during the morning, we made Jesus 'thank you cards'.  Cards that thank Him for His cross.  We knew last year we wanted to bring them to a Church, to an altar to drop them off.  We didn't anticipate so many churches would be closed in the morning. BUT, it ended up being the best happy accident.  Our Archdiocesan Cathedral, Blessed Sacrament was open.  It will be our tradition to go there every year. We put our Thank You cards before the tabernacle and spent some time (a short bit of time) in prayer.  The kids, my little little kids, honestly had a sense of sorrow and thanks moving through it in this way.  If you are local and want to meet down there this year, we ended up there around 10:30-11:00 am.  We'd love to meet up with you and your thank you cards.

When we got home, we took the time to 'shroud' all the holy images in our house. This includes statues, pictures, crucifixes, etc.. We placed small pieces of fabric (I mean, let's not lie, it's me, so I think we even used old t-shirts and scarves).  The kids took naps and we ate a  meatless dinner. 
Here are some pictures.

John Paul in front of his namesake's chair

I didn't think to take a picture, but a dear friend was at the cathedral later and saw the cards and snapped a picture for me.
As a child, we always participated in the Polish Tradition of the Blessing of the Baskets.  But, since I don't really cook, I didn't think I had enough to 'fill' the baskets with. Last year, though, I decided Jesus wouldn't mind if our baskets didn't have a lot of stuff in them.  The Blessing of the Baskets is an awesome tradition, you can read up on it here.  Basically, it's the seeking of God's blessing for the material goods we will enjoy on Easter.  We began by coloring eggs, and then filling our baskets with the eggs and Easter Candy. And I think some string cheese... because... toddlers.  The service is short (thank you Jesus) and the boys enjoyed carrying their little baskets.
Coloring Eggs

John Paul loved it.
loading up the baskets

adding the special touches

It looks like John Paul's basket legit has crust in it.  It's okay, Jesus doesn't mind.
YAY, we've made it to Easter.  For Easter, each of our kids gets a special 'new ish' outfit.  Oh my gosh, how fun is it buying Easter dresses for little girls?!??!?  Seriously.  
During the night, I took the 'shrouds' off all of our Religious articles, and replaced them with fresh flowers.  Last year, we had one shared basket (we will probably do the same this year), that the Easter Bunny hides.

Speaking of the Easter Bunny... we ain't got no problem with him.  You'll see in the pictures below, our Easter Bunny (and Santa Clause) work to celebrate Jesus.  These imaginative wonders help to bring alive the mysteries we share with our children about our faith.  It's all good.

Our Easter basket is simple.  Usually each boy gets one of those$1-2 religious books (although last year we did a big expensive book called, 'Letters to Pope Francis' which they loved), 1 small toy (Imaginext super heroes last year) and candy.  It's the perfect way to celebrate.  
The last few years, we've gone to breakfast with my inlaws at a delicious pancake house. After, we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  After Mass, I hide 15-20 eggs full of one candy each around the yard- I do this while the family is the car getting ready to go to breakfast.   The boys (and this year, girl) really enjoy finding them, so it's a tradition I will probably stick with.  
We go home, nap and then head to my parents for Easter Dinner.
Here's some pictures...

the basket

The Easter Bunny working for Jesus

Fresh flowers

Papa and Malia at Mass

Easter egg hunt

This part is so fun for them

he couldn't wait to begin the tasting
The crew at Mass
And that my friends is how the Wilkersons live the mystery of the Triduum in a special, holy and age appropriate way.  Maybe this helped to give you some ideas?!?!?!  Get 'er done.


  1. Stop. It. These are too too cute. Great age-appropriate ideas! Love it!!


    1. It really worked out well last year, hoping it wasn't a fluke!

  2. Bookmarked. Love every second of this.

  3. Yes! Great ideas. We did foot washing last year with our kids and it was so sweet. Looking forward to adding even more traditions this year (within reason!)

    1. ha! Isn't that the trick. I think in year's past, I tried to do WAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much with Waay too many little children. This plan is nice and low maintenance, even for a mom like me :)

  4. Love this!!!! I wanna come Triduum it up with you guys!

  5. Oh my goodness, I LOVE ALL OF THESE! For real, you just nailed celebrating the holy,epic Triduum in your little domestic church, and I am such a fan. Also, I love the idea of having one "family basket." I highly doubt that we'll be giving anything to our baby this year (I mean, we didn't give him anything for Christmas and he doesn't need anything haha) but in the future, we may do this one basket gig! I like it. You guys are so cool!!!

    1. You know. I've noticed people go SO overboard with the baskets, honestly, just doing one helps to reign me in :)