Martin and Sylvia’s Momma and Daddy both work and share the responsibilities of keeping a home. They like the balance between home and work, but they do regularly feel tired, overwhelmed, and too busy with all the details of their day-to-day life. When Momma’s assistant, Amy, gives her a book that could “benefit the whole family,” she is surprised and delighted that it’s all about the importance and practice of a full "Day of Rest." And thus begins a year-long project to build the perfect day of rest for their family.
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About the Stories
"A Year to Build a Day — Introduction to a Day of Rest"
Christmas is over and Momma is backed up with work. Daddy is frustrated because their wood pile hasn’t been stacked and he isn’t sure when that is happening. Guests are coming and children are tired and it all seems a bit too much. And then, Momma is given a present that introduces a new idea to the family: a Day of Rest.
"Month One: Do We Have Time?"
It is the first week of January and Martin and Sylvia's family is both excited and hesitant about beginning their new Day of Rest. First they need to choose a day and decide when to start. When Momma shares something she read about being in the present or "now," things start to fall in place for the very first Day of Rest.
"Month Two: Fun, Food and Friends"
Martin and Sylvia’s first few Days of Rest go very well and the family enjoys its benefits with excitement and deep gratitude. But on the third and fourth week, they begin to see what is missing: friends. They want to share their Day of Rest with friends — but how to do that exactly? And when Momma suggests that better prepare for their Day of Rest by doing all the laundry the day before, brother and sister find a new tradition that is piles and piles of fun!
"Month Three: Work Is Fun and Fun Is Work"
The days leading up to March bring Martin and Sylvia's family a new challenge: what do we do when something that is considered fun for one person is work for another? Brother and sister want to travel on their Day of Rest, while Momma and Daddy want to stack wood and shovel the driveway. They seem to be at an impasse until Daddy realizes that the Day of Rest for the first week in March is coinciding with the first day of maple sugaring season. Then everyone in the family decides that sugaring is the kind of work that is fun and most definitely should be included!
"Month Four: On Five Stages"
On the morning of the first Sunday of April, brother and sister are filled with excitement about the active day they had planned. But when Daddy tells them that Momma has a fever and the plans have to change, they have a hard time accepting it and feel a variety of emotions. Luckily, Daddy takes a pause and then tells them about something he learned from Mrs. Brown about the Five Stages of Feeling Loss. He sees how this connects to how they are feeling and the three of them decide to act out the Five Stages on their very own stage — the woodshed theater!
Note: This story uses Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief as a basis for experiencing and processing disappointment.
"Month Five: Service Sneaks"
When all four members of the family want to do different things on the first Day of Rest in May, Momma suggests they sleep on it and see what answers come the following day. In the morning, Martin wakes to see Daddy setting up a special pot of tea and a sweet note for Momma, and this sets off a series of "service sneaks" where everyone focuses the day of rest on taking care of someone else in the family.
"Month Six: Simplify not Complify"
Brother and sister begin the sixth month with a lot of momentum — they want to do everything, and they want to enjoy it all. But when Momma and Daddy realize all that is planned for the first Day of Rest in June, they suggest they simplify the plans and find a more elegant solution. And the result is not only elegant and simple but even more fun!
"Month Seven: A Call to Rest"
When brother and sister learn some traditions of the Jewish Sabbath from Mrs. Weber’s mother and then some traditions from the Muslim holy day of Friday from Rami Hadid, they are excited about adding a new tradition of their own: a way of formally and joyfully beginning their Day of Rest.
"Month Eight: Sharing the Day"
Martin and Sylvia suddenly have an opportunity to share their Day of Rest with the Weber family when they are invited to join them on a camping weekend. Momma and Daddy want to be sensitive to the Webers’ desires, but all are delighted to find that their friends are genuinely interested in their Day of Rest traditions. In fact, Sasha has some ideas of her own!
"Month Nine: Trial Run"
It is back to school time, and brother and sister propose that they make a plan for their Day of Rest, as well as the school year. When they realize how busy the next few months are going to be with festivals and holidays and all the changes in the season, Momma suggests they do a trial run. “Trial Run?” ask Martin and Sylvia. And that is when the fun begins!
"Month Ten: The Feeling of In-Between"
After a month of enjoying all sorts of “trial runs” with errands, festivals, trips, and projects, brother and sister decide that they really want to bring in something new to their Day of Rest — a new tradition that they haven’t experienced yet. After the family spends some time “trying on” all the natural transitions of October, they realize that the month holds a special quality — something “in between” — which gives them a magical clue to exactly the type of thing they decide to add.
"Month Eleven: What Is Precious"
Halloween is over, the leaves have fallen from the trees, the first frost has turned the grass brown and the garden needs to be put to sleep for the winter … and no one wants to do anything except lie on the couch and watch the fire in the woodstove. That is … until they receive a phone call from Mr. Brown next door. It seems his older brother, who has been sick for some time, would like Mr. and Mrs. Brown with him in his last days. So Mr. Brown asks brother and sister’s family for help — and even though it is the first Day of Rest of November, they are ready to help however they can. And what they learn is that helping out friends is, in Mr. Brown’s words, precious.
Parent Note: This story does involve the prospect of Mr. Brown's older brother dying in the near future — which is why the Browns need support from Martin and Sylvia's family. The language around this prospect is filled with gratitude and sweetness, but families who are careful about the subject of death may wish to listen to the story before sharing it with their children.
"Month Twelve: Holding"
In this final episode of Day of Rest, Martin and Sylvia suddenly have the opportunity to use everything they have learned and practiced all year long — and hold the preparation for the Day of Rest themselves. Momma and Daddy have been so occupied with Thanksgiving and Advent that they completely forgot about their Day of Rest — but no worries, brother and sister know exactly what to do!