It was about 5 years ago now that I deleted my old blog and started over from scratch, choosing the name Convivial Home for my new effort. A real estate agent promptly offered me a large sum for that domain, so I sold it and switched my name to Simply Convivial.
I did not want to let go of the word convivial – though perhaps it is a more unusual word than I realized. Convivial has been a stake-in-the-sand word for me: it does not come easily, but because my principles and philosophies continually point me back to it, I need to build it in our practices and also in my own attitude.
FYI: Convivial is pronounced cun-VIV-ee-ul.
Here is what it means, according to the American Heritage Dictionary:
convivial – adj.
- Enjoying good company; sociable. See synonyms at social.
- Characterized by merry celebrating; festive: a convivial atmosphere at the reunion
Convivial reminds me that it’s about atmosphere.
The atmosphere of our home has much more to do with my attitude than with our decor.
What am I fostering and feeding? What am I shutting down?
I prefer efficiency and business-like frankness, but too often that is my excuse for squashing child-like joy and enthusiasm.
If I shift my business-like goal to conviviality, then I can take a deep breath, smile, and enjoy the life expressed by my children rather while working within my own goal-oriented mode.
When I can pause and enjoy life, I build an atmosphere of joy, which is the best atmosphere for learning.
So conviviality must be my goal.
Convivial reminds me that it’s about people.
I do love my goals. But goals themselves are only means to an end, while the people around me are eternal souls, created in the image of God who are designed to worship God in all things forever. And so am I.
What I do is only valuable insofar as it brings glory to God, and investing in other people brings greater glory than preserving an immaculate house or reading all the books.
My children are images of God and they glorify Him, so my goals are only worthwhile if they serve my people and my God – but too often they serve only myself.
Convivial reminds me that hospitality commands include my husband and children and everyday life. Building a home and an education is about building up people, not churning out a product.
This is true socialization: living a life of companionable learning, alongside each other. Each of us are learning and growing and maturing, though we are at different stages and sometimes learning different things. We’re all still in this thing together, brothers and sisters in Christ even while mother and children in the home.
Convivial must describe our learning and living together.
Convivial reminds me that our homeschool is all of life.
According to the dictionary, to say that a place or event is convivial is to say that it is “characterized by merry celebrating; festive.”
Festivity takes a lot of work: preparing, planning, cooking, inviting, cleaning up afterward. Much of the work of celebrations is behind-the-scenes. And so it is also with the home and with family life – if it is, indeed, convivial rather than hostile.
If you look at the roots of the word convivial, it is like a compound word: con (with) + vivere (to live).
To have a convivial attitude and a convivial home is to live together, live life alongside each other, with a tone of merry-making.
Being merry and festive is not the same thing as lazy or carefree. It is being cheerful and enjoying life while doing the work of life. It’s not a vacation, it’s a tone of camaraderie while working side by side.
Convivial must describe our life as a whole, and learning, living, and loving must be intertwined.