Book Review: A Homemade Year by Jerusalem Jackson Greer

yhst-38174537758215_2262_104415410 (1)

Arts and crafts have never been my strong suit.  Of the two of us, my sister definitely got the craft-y gene.  She can letter beautiful placecards and make gorgeous scrapbook pages and arrange tissue paper crisply in gift bags, while my fumbling efforts in that area make even brand-new tissue paper look like it’s been in continual use since the Johnson administration.

So when Paraclete Press sent me a review copy of Jerusalem Jackson Greer’s new book A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting, and Coming Together, I thought, That looks like a great book for artsy folks like my sister.

Turns out, it’s a great book even for the non-artsy folks like me.

First of all, I love the premise of this book: Greer, a mother of two, writes in the foreword that as an adult and a mother, she felt drawn to the rhythms of the liturgical year.  As she explains, “I set out to find a way that would create the traditions of faith for our family through the rhythm of the  liturgical calendar, using fun, modern, colorful crafts and recipes.”  And that’ exactly what the book is: a handbook for celebrating the liturgical year, starting with Advent and including all the big days  and seasons (Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Pentecost, Ordinary Time, All Saints’ Day, to name a few).  There are original crafts and recipes for each event (making a homemade serving tray for St. Lucy’s Day; hosting an Ash Wednesday bonfire and burning of confessions; a shellfish boil for St. James’ Day).  All of these recipes and craft ideas are illustrated with beautiful color photography, with a vintage, homey flair.  It’s like a more spiritual, less intimidating  issue of Martha Stewart magazine, and it’s a joy to read.

But for me the best part of this book are the spiritual reflections that begin each chapter.  Greer is a beautiful writer, and she draws profound connections between each day or liturgical season and the experiences of her adult life.  Motherhood, marriage, family, friendship, forging a new faith community: all of these topics are addressed in conjunction with the symbolism of the liturgical year.  As a writer, she has the gift of making surprising but powerful connections (I especially loved how she compared the husking of fresh corn to the way that Ash Wednesday lays our souls bare).   In doing so, she proves the emotional power of these ancient celebrations, showing how they strike a chord with the lives of modern moms.

That’s why this book truly has something for everyone.  Whether you are drawn to the craft ideas or the recipes or the beautiful design of the book or the authentic and enlightening spiritual reflections, it’s a book to touch the heart of any mom who wants to honor the rhythms of the liturgical year.

3 responses to “Book Review: A Homemade Year by Jerusalem Jackson Greer