Family Picnic

Family Picnic

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Text: Anne Morawski
There are a great many end-of-the-school-year celebrations in Hungary. In recent weeks I have attended all sorts of final music and dance performances and parties. The most recent was a family picnic at Gyóni Evangélikus Egyházközség in Dabas. Children and parents played tether ball, badminton, and catch, jumped on the trampoline, and swung on the swings.

The congregation has many families with young children, so while the fire was getting hot and burning down to coals, each family was asked to perform something. It could have been a song, a poem, or something unique to them. There were also plenty of children who came on their own without their families. One boy told a joke, so every boy told a joke after that. There was lots of fun and laughter. Everyone got a number for a prize drawing, and there were prizes for everyone: puzzles, games, coin purses, coloring books, stuffed animals, balls, cups, notebooks, and pencils. The grand prize was an air mattress you could use in the pool.  

By the time the games were finished, the coals were hot. Rather than setting up a grill, food was cooked over the open fire. We ate virsli (Hungarian long narrow hot dogs), szalonna (which is bacon with lots of fat from a pig), pickled celery, green onions, tomatoes, pickles, mild green peppers, bread, and lots of home baking. People drank water and soft drinks, as well as sparkling water often flavored with fruit syrup. My current favorite is sparkling lemonade sweetened with bodza (elderberry flower).

I never had children of my own, but I have always enjoyed these gatherings with people of all ages. Grandparents and parents of older children provide important examples, wisdom, and support to younger parents in villages like Dabas-Gyon. In the USA many of us have moved so many times that our churches become like second families. If children don’t see their own grandparents often enough, at least they get to see other people who love them from other generations and other families. It is one of the important ministries of congregational life in the USA, especially for families of young children.

Psalm 127:3 says that “Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord.” Children help us to delight in small things and new experiences. They help us see the world from a simpler perspective. They often remind us of things that are truly important, or at least help us slow down and pay attention to the world around us. They call us back to childlike faith. I’m grateful to all the children I have had the opportunity to know in Dabas this year. Thank you for including me in your lives! Thank you to your parents and grandparents for all that they do to surround you with love and care. Thank God for the communities that bring all ages together.   

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