Mantoan Family Traditions – June

Summer time! It’s unbearably hot and I love it! Give me June heat waves over January snow ANY TIME. This month usually goes by way too fast. Time for a run down of our family’s June traditions. At least one affiliate link below.

Month of the Sacred Heart

Again, like many feasts/ months I mention, I know we did a lot of crafts and picture books when the kids were little. Now, Tony will usually read from Catholic Life at least a couple nights during family prayers about the Church’s devotion to the Sacred Heart, but we don’t do anything else special. Years ago during June we added “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pray for Us.” x3 to the end of our family prayers and just never stopped saying it. We do have an image of the sacred heart hanging in our basement library (which was the school room when we first moved here) but as that room gets less use now, we are looking to purchase a sacred heart stature we can place in the living room when we take down our May marian altar.

End of School and Graduations (vs Schooling Year Round)

When we first started homeschooling, we schooled year round taking December, April, and August off. But school work noticeably dropped off in June and July as we took numerous field trips and spent more time outside. However, once Addie started online high school we all took on a more traditional school year calendar. And then of course once the boys were in school, June officially became the end of the year. We usually go until about the middle of the month, which may seem late, but is pretty standard in NJ and is what I personally grew up. Recently we’ve started the tradition of burning schoolwork in our bonfire pit on the last day.

Addie graduated in 2020, so like most graduates she didn’t get things like a prom or ceremony. She’s the only one of my kids who attended homeschool dances or was open to walking in a graduation ceremony. She did eventually get a baccalaureate Mass at our parish in August.

Byron graduated in 2022 and he wrapped up pretty early because he was taking mostly community college classes that ended in May. We didn’t do anything special, besides send out graduation announcements and that suited him fine. Edie just graduated and it was the same.

Fulton’s Diagnosis Day

This isn’t really a “tradition” per say. I wasn’t sure I’d include it on this list, but I think it bears mentioning. Every June 10th I am reminded of Fulton’s diagnosis with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Some times, it hits hard; it certainly did in the early years. Other times, it passes without much notice. But regardless, it marks a major turning point in our family’s life; before SMA and after SMA. For many special needs families, diagnosis day (or D Day) is hard and they can’t not notice it. If you know other families with disabled kids, recognize that if D Day is coming up or has just passed, your friends might seem off or not themselves. For special needs parents who otherwise seem to “have it together”, D Day might be the one day they still allow themselves to dwell on all the ‘what ifs’ and ‘could have beens’. There’s no right or wrong way to feel about D Day. It is what it is; a wound of uncomfortable feelings living together in your heart.

St. Anthony of Padua, June 13

This is Theodore Anthony’s patron saint. (When naming each of our kids, regardless of how many “saint” names they may have, we select one patron for each.) Tony tries to take each child to Mass on his/ her actual feast day, however sometimes with school or Tony’s work schedule, that isn’t always possible. But sooner or later, each child will get to go to Mass with Papa and hit Dunkin Donuts afterwards. Over the last year or so, Tony’s been sending the college kids Door Dash gift cards on their feast days since he can’t take them out.

If we’re on our A game, Tony will remember to take bread and get it blessed at Mass on St. Anthony’s Day.

Father’s Day

Just like we do Mother’s Day on Mothering Sunday, and try to focus on the grandmother’s for Mother’s Day, we try to celebrate Tony on the feast of St. Joseph (either March 19 or May 1) and focus on the grandfather’s for Father’s Day. However, like Mother’s Day, we usually don’t travel or see family on the day and so its more about being timely with cards or gifts and being sure to call, more than anything.

Summer Camp

When Fulton, and then Teddy, started attending summer camp, it was always in June. Things changed as we travelled to FL for camp for two years following COVID, and now that the local camp has resumed, it takes place in August. Addie, Byron and Edie have done various overnight and day camps that have fallen throughout the summer.

Poker faces at MDA camp’s casino night.

I loved summer camp growing up and so I really pushed all the kids to do a week of camp every year, sometimes even if they weren’t very enthusiastic about it. I tried to always find camps suited to their interests, and everyone had to try overnight camp at least once. And Fulton and Teddy need to go to camp so Tony and I get a week of respite. While they sometimes complain about being “forced” to go, they always come home with smiles and lots of fun stories. Once our kids have started summer jobs, camp falls by the wayside. Addie has tried to be a camp counselor at the camp she attended for years, but has never been successful at getting hired due to the high number of applicants her favorite camp receives.

Nativity of St. John the Baptist

This is our family’s big tradition for the month. Since 2010 we’ve hosted a Nativity of St. John the Baptist party, rain or shine, at the end of June (though last year we held it in the middle of July due to our Europe trip). I’m not sure when Tony first learned about the medieval tradition of hosting a bonfire on St. John’s Eve, sometimes also called summer Christmas, but he wanted to run with it. Our old house, with it’s huge backyard and deck, was perfect for hosting. I think that was actually the best thing about that property. Tony would stoke up a large bonfire and lead Vespers before setting off fireworks at dusk. Even now at our new house, we still manage to have all the same events, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale. Read all our past posts about our party HERE. I’m notoriously bad about remembering to take pictures, but I do have posts for at least 8 of our last 13 parties.

The party hosts, 2015

Fulton’s Birthday

Fulton’s birthday sorts of floats alone out here. It falls six months after Edie’s birthday, and almost two months before Tony’s. Everyone else’s birthdays are crammed into the second half of the year; or at least it feels like its one birthday on top of another once school starts back up. We usually have a family party (sometimes two depending on when grandparents can visit) and then all our kids typically get an experience gift, or one “big” present. For anyone concerned, they get TONS of presents from the grandparents and other family members. They are not deprived in any sense. Fulton has chosen to go to demolition derbies, monster truck shows, an NFL game, and the statue of liberty in past years. I also cook them whatever dinner they want on the day (and sometimes a second day if the family party is held on a different day). My mom always makes the kids a special cake.

From his 2018 birthday party with friends.

I think because his birthday falls so close to his D Day, his birthdays do seem extra special- every year is a gift to all of us because those first couple years were so hard.

That’s it for June! What are your family traditions for this month?

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