My Easter Bag

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​It’s hard to believe that Easter was only one week ago. Most of my Holy Week was spent in church between morning prayer services, the parish community dinner, evening prayer and mass. There is a lot going on and a lot packed into the second half of the week following Palm Sunday. The three days of Holy Week prior to Easter Sunday is called the Triduum, which is basically one long service beginning on Holy Thursday with the sign of the Cross and ending at the Easter Vigil on Saturday night the same way. At our parish we have hospitality or receptions on Saturday morning and evening, the former in celebration of the lighting the Easter fire and the latter in celebration of welcoming the new members to the Catholic church through the RCIA program.

It’s very fulfilling and spiritual, but it’s long and it’s tiring. Since my first Vigil, one of my yearly customs is that I will bring a small tote bag along with my usual purse to carry a water, cough drops, tissues. I’ll add my worship booklet so I have it for the entire three days.

At some point during Holy Week, I’ll realize that I don’t really need my pocketbook if I toss my wallet and kindle and phone and other necessities into the tote bag. That way I only have one bag to carry and keep track of.

Genius, right?

Well, every year, I’m surprised by the time Saturday afternoon rolls around at how heavy this tote bag is. I don’t realize it’s getting heavier as I add things one at a time until the very end when I go to grab it out of the car, and it pulls me back in.

Here is a picture of it when I arrived at church for the lighting of the Easter fire on Saturday morning:

The inside of my Easter bag on Holy Saturday morning. (c)2019

It has my large wallet, kindle, hearing aids, extra batteries for the hearing aids, clipboard and pad if the urge to write grabs hold of me, a pen, packet of tissues, bag of cough drops, daily reflection book for Lent, cell phone, rosary, Triduum worship aid, any of the other worship aids that I’ve collected during the week, bottle of cold water, umbrella for the upcoming rain (it wasn’t raining when I arrived but it was raining very hard when we all went outside to light the fire). I think there may have been a few other odds and ends in there. All I know is it was really heavy by the time I pulled it out of the back seat.
Admittedly, and embarrassingly, this one week later, it still has stuff in it, and needs to be completely emptied and put away. It doesn’t have much, but still, it’s long past time.

Tote Bag Fun

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This activity needs a little prep before the winter recess (or spring break) begins. If you know your kids well, you can use this with any age, but I’ve always geared these tote bags towards early childhood up to about first or second grade. Again, adaptability is the key.

Each tote bag contains themed activities or a planned outing. for example, the library tote can store your finished library books until the next time you visit the library or your library tote can contain books that your kids rarely read or new books to create a library for the day in your home.

1. Library – include books that your kids haven’t seen in awhile. Add card stock, colored pencils, markers, and crayons to make bookmarks. Include journaling paper for book report, reviews, sketch paper for adding illustrations, paper for extending the story (ie. fan fiction for kids).

2. Beach – Throw in those leis from the variety of birthday parties your kids have attended. Include a bathing suit and towel for each child. Don’t forget the sunglasses and water bottle. Put in a CD of dance music and a camera for selfies. You might also want a big, wide-brimmed straw hat to keep the sun out of their eyes.

3. Get Crafty – All the things. Paper, tape, feathers, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, glue, chalk, yarn, string, whatever you can think of. Collect some recycling in anticipation of the week recess: toilet paper and paper towel tubes, egg cartons, tin cans (washed, of course), newspaper, magazines. Pirate themes are always fun. Toilet paper tubes make great binoculars and wind socks. Paper towel tubes make periscopes, telescopes, Olympic torches. Use your imaginations and enjoy the creative time together!

4. Dress Up – Hats, shirts, dresses, Mom’s and Dad’s shoes, neckties, scarves. Don’t forget the leftover Halloween costumes too.

5. Back to Nature – Construction paper, glue. Include paper bags to collect the nature items with. Pre-make scavenger hunt sheets where the kids can check off what they find and draw pictures or use a digital camera to take photos of the scavenged items.

6. Animal Hospital – Include a variety of stuffed animals, reusable bandages, a doctor’s kit with stethoscope and blood pressure gauge. Use washcloths as blankets. Pretend ice packs or real ice packs as long as they’re leak-proof.

7. Kids Cook – Aprons, chef’s hats, preferably kids’ sized. Cookie cutters, sprinkles, food coloring, measuring cups and spoons, bag of chocolate chips, can of frosting, box mix for cake or brownies or cookies. Box of Jello.

What tote bag activities can you add to this list? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.