In Sochi now long enough to reestablish our usual family patterns. It is interesting how much our daily routine is tied up so much with the place in which it happens. When that place changes, an inevitable alteration in routine results to adapt to the new setting. We have been staying with aunt and uncle and will move down the street to make room for the arrival of cousins tomorrow. It has been good to get our own family patterns established in this new place before we intersect with our cousins’ family patterns.
Our day now consists of waking early for prayers, breakfast (kasha as always), then light chores like harvesting fruit, watering flowers, etc. While the sun is still relatively low, the kids take a dip in the inflatable pool. Though we are sleeping a few doors down, most of our day will be spent with cousins at our aunt’s home. They have a yard big enough for fruit trees, green house, and other yard games for the kids. With the summer season, the unquestioned favorite is the pool.
After or before lunch, something happens inside for the kids, away from the hot sun; it usually corresponds with naps taken by the younger ones. In an ideal world, the inside activity would be some kind of holy craft like making prayer ropes. But reality overtakes our idealism, at least today, and the girls watch first a Russian cartoon and then a Warner Brothers children’s flick.
I first don’t intend to watch anything with them, but the movie draws me in. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the book by Roald Dahl was first produced as a made-for-TV movie when I was Nastya’s age and we saw it on one of our first long family vacations to North Carolina. This more recent Hollywood production stars the inimitable Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka who owns the world’s largest chocolate factory and invites 5 lucky children who win a contest to visit it. Sounds pretty mindless, but the children who comprise the tour group are real character studies, especially the lead and hero of the story, Charlie. All the rest of the children have some fatal flaw that prevents them from making it to the end of the tour. But Charlie’s greatest virtue is his selfless devotion to his extended family, almost all of whom live under the same roof. Charlie’s poor but very loving family provides an excellent contrast to the isolated, over-achieving, spoiled brats from all the other places. In the end, Charlie has something to teach Wonka himself who cannot even utter the word “family” as his experience of it was only as a cramp to his style and creativity. He is humbled by Charlie who chooses his poor but happy family over everything the world has to offer him.
I remember one of the things that struck me when I first visited an Orthodox Church was the presence of extended family, several generations all in the same church. The families I witnessed there were older than many of the Protestant churches I knew in my youth. I thought to myself then, If I ever were to have a family, this is the kind of church I want to hand down to them.
Glory be to God for extended family which can solidify our commitment to the life of virtue in the Church.