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For Your Marriage

Married for 20 years and the proud parents of five children, Soren and Ever are co-founders of Trinity House Community, a Catholic nonprofit with a mission to inspire families to make home a small taste of heaven for the renewal of faith and culture.

Bananagrams and Pieper

Every year we long all spring for the easy-going, warm sunny days of summer.

And yet, when those leisurely days finally arrive, every family knows how easy it is to fracture into each person doing his own thing…screen in hand.

We’ll never forget the time that our then-11-year-old son introduced us to Bananagrams, a simple Scrabble-like game requiring participants to build as many words as possible in a race against time. The winner screams “Bananagrams!” when all of his or her letters have successfully been used. Within hours of learning it, the whole family had fallen in love with the game, convening in the dining room for long, raucous rounds.

Candidly, we wish we had more time for leading all-family games, sing-alongs, hikes, day trips, and other Bananagram-like experiences of fun and family togetherness. Today, all too often, families slip into a kind of passive consumption of media on their screens. When we do this, day after day, we lose opportunities to celebrate the other-centered communion which is at the heart of every family’s Trinity House or domestic church.

As a little exercise for examining our family culture, let’s look at the power of Bananagrams in light of key principles from a book we both love, Joseph Pieper’s classic work, Leisure, the Basis of Culture. As he wrote:

  • Leisure: “Leisure cannot be achieved at all when it is sought as a means to an end… Celebration of God in worship cannot be done unless it is done for its own sake. That most sublime form of affirmation of the world as a whole is the fountainhead of leisure.”
  • Celebration: “The soul of leisure, it can be said, lies in ‘celebration’.”
  • Boredom: “The vacancy left by absence of worship is filled by mere killing of time and by boredom, which is directly related to inability to enjoy leisure; for one can only be bored if the spiritual power to be leisurely has been lost.”

To help translate these principles to your own family’s unique culture, we invite you to reflect on these questions together as parents:

  • What types of “leisure” activities can your family enjoy—like a family meal, or a Bananagrams tournament— “for its own sake” and not as part of some larger goal or project?
  • How can your family “celebrate” more, as you enjoy the gift of the communion that you have together and with God?

If members of your family have complained about being “bored,” is this an indicator that your family culture needs to be strengthened?

Your family culture is utterly unique, a precious gift that the Lord has given you to steward, grow, and celebrate. Don’t lose another minute in boredom or merely being entertained. If you’re looking for one single way to strengthen your family culture starting today, just focus on your family meals, which we like to compare to your “mini-Sabbath.”

Every family works so hard today. Taking time out to celebrate the communion that God has given us is not “another task” or “more work”: it’s the heart of our family’s gratitude to God. As we journey through this summer, may our kitchen tables be places of true leisure, laughter, celebration, and wonder as our children beat us yet again at Bananagrams!