Growing up in a traditional Hispanic Catholic family Good Friday was a solemn day. The only television allowed was religious themed movies, The Robe, The Ten Commandments, etc. No music, especially near 3:00 pm, and the only singing allowed all was at church.
My parents were involved in the church as far back as I can remember. My father is a member of the first class of deacons ordained in the Chicago Archdiocese in 1972. As we got older and my parents became more involved in the church things changed and became less rigid. My parents would always think of creative ways to help us not only understand our faith, but actually embrace it.
One particular Good Friday my parents started a different tradition for my six brothers and sisters. We were all called into the living room and told to sit in a circle around a mound of gifts. We tried not to show any excitement since it was Good Friday and we were supposed to be sad. You can only imagine how hard it was for 7 kids to contain their excitement while sitting around a bunch of presents.
My parents began to explain to us that on Good Friday Jesus gave His life for our salvation and they wanted to continue in His tradition of giving. They told us that the act of giving was the reason for our celebration. We had specific instructions on what to do next, my sisters and I were to take our gifts along with a letter from each of our parents and go to our bedrooms. My parents asked that we go back to the living room as soon as we felt ready. Since my brothers were younger they stayed with my parents to open their gifts and chat.
I remember opening my gift with so much excitement that all the catholic guilt about being happy on Good Friday went out the window! My gift was a beautiful music box. Well that really freaked me out.. Good Friday meant NO music unless we were at church. We were to open our mom’s letter first. The first instructions on her letter were to play the music and to read both letters and meditate on the correlation between our celebration and the meaning of Good Friday. I remember feeling my parent’s spiritually and love as I read the letters. Both my mom and dad committed to be better parents. My mom wanted to be there for me to help me deal with crazy teen issues. My dad who worked long hours wanted to reassure me that I was a priority in his life. I remember reading both letters several times and crying because I could not believe that they could BE better parents. With the exception of not having my own Kitty Karry-All, I always felt I lived in a Brady Bunch world.
To this day I am amazed at how much thought went into our gifts that day. Both of my parents worked, had their ministry, and were raising 7 kids. My music box was a silver and porcelain heart. The porcelain top of the heart was a meadow with a mama owl hugging her baby owl and they were sitting on a log. The music ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ was especially chosen for me since I was in my tween years and my relationship with my mother was just starting to grow.
Since that day, in my heart, Good Friday not only commemorates that Jesus gave His life for me but also reminds me of the gift of LOVE my parents gave me. I continue to try to follow in their footsteps and commit to work at being a better parent each and every day.