The livestock show and carnival is happening in our town right now. Every year, my husband’s grandparents treat everyone at Grandy’s, and then we all go to the carnival together. The kids get arm bands, and then we ride rides to their heart’s content.
It’s really a little county fair, but since January my kids have been asking me when is the “Carnival Night.” They love it, and I think it has a lot to do with the rhythm of tradition. 2009 was the first year we lived here for the carnival. Four days before, I had an emergency appendectomy. I wasn’t excited about going to a carnival. My sister-in-law tried to pump up my enthusiasm. I went for the kids. It was the best thing I could’ve done! Watching their faces of pure delight was healing for me. I remembered how grateful I was for family in my life, that my nasty appendix was gone, and that I was healing.
Last night was “Carnival Night” here, and you could feel the excitement in our home. Of course you could see it too since they were jumping up and down and yelling “Carnival Night Tonight!” First we went to Grandy’s and filled our bellies with starch and sodium. It was yummy…..and not very Lent-ish I must say. Then we went over to the carnival and rode ride after ride. We never got on the Tilt O’ Whirl because someone had just thrown up so they were taking a five-minute break. Ew.
In some ways, I wish we went to the carnival after Easter because it felt like a celebration. Spring has already sprung down here, and we were grateful for warm weather. Finally our 9-year-old was tall enough for the Kamikaze, and the 5-year-old could ride the Genesis. We shared our germs by sharing caramel apples, and we ate cotton candy. I actually like funnel cakes too, but we didn’t venture that far. At 10pm we decided we must go home, and the kids were so exhausted that they didn’t argue. It took some money to give them this experience of fun, but tradition doesn’t always call for money. I kept thinking as we moved through the little fair how naturally liturgical children are. They long for rhythm and tradition that has some meaning to it. I think as adults we are the same, but we surround ourselves with distraction and forget to pay attention to that need.
As we climbed in the van, our oldest girl said, “We are really spoiled, you know. I mean, really spoiled.” I just stared at her. “I can’t remember when I figured that out, but I was pretty young (she’s eleven now). I think it was when we lived in Indonesia,” she continued.
I flashed back to another van ride with a tiny 4-year-old Anna, sweaty from the tropical heat, asking, “Daddy, are we rich?” He answered, “What do you think?” She said, “Well, we have enough food to eat.” “Yes, we have more than enough food,” he said. “We have a house and clothes,” she reflected. “Yep,” I answered. “We have a car to drive,” she said. “Yep, we’re rich!” she concluded.
Bringing myself back to the present I said, “Yep, we’re spoiled.”