Back to School Feast: New Beginnings

School is back in session here at the Ferrier house. That means that my 4-year-old is headed to 3 day-a-week preschool, my daughter is now in second grade, and my two stepdaughters are in college, one in Chattanooga and one here in Nashville.

We had an amazing summer, filled with activities, hikes, vacations, bike rides, day trips, and family visits. We stayed very, very busy – so busy, in fact, that I was glad when it was time for school to start. I actually think my kids were, too.

Like most households, ours thrives on routine. School gets us into a rhythm that is both comforting and productive. It also means a welcome return to our faith routine. We rarely miss church and Sunday School during the school year. (Summer is a different story!) Our Small Group, composed of six families from our church, meets every other week. My Moms’ Bible Study Group cranks back up. And this year, the little ones are finally old enough to participate in a Wednesday night family devotional here at home, complete with our favorite Christian music, a Bible story, and a family prayer.

With routine, of course, can come stagnation. I try to keep the celebratory spirit of summer going by breaking up our school year routine with mini-festivities, starting with our annual Back to School Feast. It’s an idea I cribbed a few years ago from Nie Nie, one of my favorite bloggers.

I start by setting the table with my best china, crystal and silverware. Most of us have these things and rarely use them, saving them for “special occasions.” I’ve been making a conscious effort to get them out and serve my family on them several times a year. Plates and glasses were made to be USED.

I would love to be crafty, but the truth is that I just don’t have the time. So I compensate by buying special flowers for our feast and making each of our children a card with age-appropriate stickers I pick up at Michaels.

Here’s the card I made for my second-grader…

And here are the words that were inside each of our kids’ cards. It’s this year’s Back to School Feast theme: New Beginnings, and it applies to each child in a different way.

Dinner included everyone’s favorite foods: “party meatballs” and French bread for the little ones, Strawberry-Basil Salad and Seared Tuna with Ginger Shiitake Sauce for the adults.

And then there was Blackberry Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert! I’m getting hungry again just looking at it…

Creating these events for my family keeps our school year routine fun. It also keeps us close, and focused on each other. Although my husband said a moving prayer to start the feast off, we didn’t read Scripture or impart spiritual words of wisdom during this particular meal. Despite that, it definitely played a role in our faith as a family. The closer we are as a unit, the closer we come to God’s ideal for what our family should look like.

To keep your back-to-school routine fresh and exciting, I invite you to start a new tradition and create a family celebration of your own. Don’t stress over it— make it fun for everyone, including yourself. For example, I love to cook, so that’s a highlight of many of our special family events. You might be good at something entirely different. Draw from your own talents to create a unique celebration that brings your own family closer.

The payoff might not be apparent right away, but trust me when I say that you will eventually reap the rewards. And, looking back, you will also know that you loved your family as well as you possibly could.

Lindsay Ferrier is wife to WSMV-TV reporter Dennis Ferrier, mom to a 4-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl, and stepmom to 18 and 20-year-old girls. Her family is currently “between pets” and she’s trying to keep it that way for as long as possible. Lindsay currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee and is the author of Suburban Turmoil.