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Book Review: The Art of Family

The Art of Family: Rituals, Imagination, and Everyday Spirituality Gina Bria (1998, Dell Books)

Traditions, rites, memories, rituals:  These are overwhelming to parents desiring to foster a nurturing home environment for their children — one of joy, playfulness, freedom to be who they (and we) are, common courtesy, respect, and unconditional love. Such big shoes to fill, and we know it.

Family-creating, as author and anthropologist Gina Bria points out in her wonderfully articulate, and refreshingly non-judgmental book, The Art of Family, is indeed an art, and oftentimes art must be trudged through in order to get the right colors on the canvas, the right words on the page, the flowers in the correct garden soil and light. A family is a “little society” from which play, ritual, imagination and story all are reinjected into the contemporary home. In Bria’s own words, The Art of Family is “not a guide or manual to ‘achieving’ family [but] a book about applied hope and intelligence, a short definition of imagination. I hope this book and its stories will be a new imaginative friend to you, sparking new ideas, offering solace, giving rest.” Fulfilling the author’s expressed hope, my wife and I continue to pull this book from the shelves from time to time as a sort of reference, an encouragement, and something like a steady friend.

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