It struck me in chatting with teachers and parents at school today that we all share the same feeling about yesterday’s snow day, a deep appreciation of time home with our families. For some reason, family time has become a guilty pleasure rather than a component of what Aristotle termed “living well.” Our family often comes second to work obligations because yes, we do have to pay the bills. How often do we put our kids on hold while we tend to some other obligation? But our kids regularly need us to spend time playing Scrabble and going sledding, and honestly, we need it too.
In college, I read Josef Pieper’s “Leisure: The Basis of Culture,” the gist of which I did not fully appreciate at the time. Now, as we juggle work,home, and family obligations, Pieper’s words ring true, “The inmost significance of the exaggerated value which is set upon hard work appears to be this: man seems to mistrust everything that is effortless; he can only enjoy,with a good conscience, what he has acquired with toil and trouble; he refused to have anything as a gift.”
As Catholics, certainly we view our children as a gift and family life as the domestic church. Yesterday's unexpected day with my kids was a reminder that family time should not be an afterthought. As St. John Paul II once said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.” It is a good nudge to tend to that which is most important and enjoy the gift of children under our roof.
This will be the last chance I have to wish you a Merry Christmas before we leave for vacation. On behalf of the faculty and staff here at Mount Royal, I wish your family all the peace and joy of this holy season.