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Last days of Advent

As I put away the last of the Christmas decorations, I realize I never posted the last of the advent calendar responses, so here they are:

December 21:   After darkness, how can you welcome back the sun?  By waving at it every morning when you get up.  

December 22:  What is food you like to share with others?  Fried donuts

December 23:  Name a gift you could give that would cost nothing.  Unconditional love

December 24:  What is the best gift you give to the world?  My laughter and enthusiasm

“Enthusiasm” has been a consistent word that adults have used for Mythankfulboy over the years, and one for which I’m grateful.  Of course, it’s often accompanied with “busy”, “talkative”, and “distracted”…

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Each year we do an advent calendar, and a few years ago I started giving Mythankfulboy a question each day to answer to make it bit more contemplative.  I got them from childrenchalice.wordpress.com.  Mythankfulboy gets a Hershey kiss first thing in the morning just because it’s a countdown to Christmas, and when he answers the question, he gets a second one.  Here is our first installment this year:

December 1:    What does kindness look like?  Holding doors for someone, asking how people are doing, being happy in general.  

December 2:    What do you look forward to in the coming year?  Getting a job.  

December 3:    Do you like wintertime?  I would rate it a 6/10.  

December 4:    Advent is a time of waiting.  What is something you wait for eagerly?   Baseball season and packages arriving in the mail.  

December 5:    Why is it important to say thank you?  Because even if it seems small, it can make a big difference in someone’s life.  

December 6:    Tell me about a time you felt lucky.  I felt lucky when my summer baseball team won the championships  

December 7:    How important is a smile?  It is extremely important because a smile can make someone’s day.  

December 8:    Let’s plan an activity for winter.  What should it be?  Find the best hill to sled down with the BOOMS (his friends, short for Boys Of Obnoxious Mothers – long story) and go sledding/tubing there.

December 9:    Does your energy change when you sit in darkness?  I feel like I slow down a lot, get sleepy and cold and quiet.  

December 10:  What animals need our help in winter?  There are a few cats staying on Dad’s porch in the winter that probably wouldn’t make it without our help. And squirrels.  

December 11:   Name a time when you have helped someone.  What did you do?   I have helped O move in across the street.  

December 12:   If you were to send a card or letter to someone today, who would it be?   It would be to my cousins Wil and Ben because I miss them and I want to know how they are doing.

December 13:   Why does giving make us happy?  Giving makes us happy because it makes others happy.  

December 14:   If we had a family symbol or motto, what would it look like?  Friends are family and family are friends. 

December 15:    Name a time when you knew you were loved.  How did you know?  When my mom told me she was willing to alter her work schedule to be here with me more often.  

December 16:    Name someone you’d like to get to know better in the coming year.  The R’s, across the street.  

December 17:    Talk about your favorite holiday memory.  Walking around at Bethlehem Steel and ice skating with the BOOMs.  

December 18:     If you could be a character from a book for one day, who would you want to be?  Why?   Percy Jackson, because I would have a cool shiny golden pen-sword.  

December 19:     Tell me a joke. Why is laughing good for you?  How can you tell if a Christmas tree is a guy or a girl?  You look up its tree skirt!  (This was the first joke B made up, at about age 8.  Then he said “boy or girl”.)  I think laughing is good because it can easily brighten someone’s mood.  

December 20:     This is the darkest night of the year.  Do you like darkness?  I kind of like darkness.  I don’t like when it gets dark at 4:00 in the winter.  I do like sleeping in the dark, though, and it helps me concentrate.  

I love this tradition.  It makes me happy to read his thoughts, in the same way it makes me happy to hear them each night at the chalice lighting.  Lately, B has been thankful for a range of things, including friends, our Christmas tree, his snow globe collection, and last night, for fingernails (because they’re really useful).   The Christmas season is a great time to be thankful..

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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A little more advent, and good night Christmas

The holidays whizzed by – I didn’t manage to sit down and blog for weeks!  This resulted in being quite behind in writing down mythankfulboy’s answers to advent questions.  Starting with December 11th, which is out of order because I temporarily lost it so it didn’t make the previous blog’s list:

December 11: Name a time when you have been a helper.  What did you do?  “At Ferry Beach, I was assigned to help the little kids with using the instruments during music.  Twas fun!”  Yes, he wrote “twas”.

December 16: Name someone you’d like to get to know better in the coming year.  “My dad. I feel like it is always just small talk and awkward between us.”  Oof.

December 17: Talk about your favorite holiday memory.  “Mine is when we went to Georgia when I was 10 or 11 and had a really fun time with all my relatives.”  I said, “That’s it?  What about the time the tree fell over, or when we went to DC and left the presents all over the place for Aunt Susan, or when Santa rolled out the scroll with your name on it and all the things you wished for?”  He said, “Oh yeah!  Those, too!”

December 18: If you could be a character from a book for one day, who would you want to be?  “Harry Potter so I could zap people.”

December 19: Tell me a joke.  Why is laughing good for you?  “Knock knock!  Who’s there?  Interrupting cow!  Interrupting cow wh-MOOO!  Laughing is good because it is a form of exercise (spelled “exercize”) and improves your overall mood.”

December 20: This is the darkest night of the year.  Do you like darkness?  “I only like it for sleeping and gaming.  Otherwise, I like it bright.”

December 21: After darkness, how can you welcome back the sun?  “By saying hi to it!”  Hardy har har.

December 22:  What is food you like to share with others?  “Vegetables, food that I don’t like, and food that I have a lot of.  And candy.”  Ask a question, get an answer, as my momma would say!

December 23: Name a gift you could give that would cost nothing.  “A chore someone doesn’t like to do.”

December 24: What is the best gift you give to the world? “MY LOVE”.  In person, he added, “Being good to the world by not killing it.”  Arguable, but ok.

 

On the 24th we headed down South to see our family, where we saw Peepeye and Grandaddy and Nini (grandparents), J&J with W and M and B, LA&T with M (aunt, uncles, cousins), B&J and their extended brood of K&A with S&K, and S with Z, J&K, and L (great aunts and uncles and second and third cousins).  The little one, 4 years old, followed B around like a puppy dog, much to his consternation (although he was good about it).  It was odd to find that, of the five siblings of which my dad is the oldest, our annual Christmas Day gathering was down to only 2 (one missing because of weather).

We did our usual half-time with my  momma (Peepeye) and half-time with my daddy and step-mother (and friend).  Tornados happened across the South, with severe rain and flooding in our area.  It was in the 70’s every day but the last.  Weird.  I asked B what his favorite part of the trip was, and he named each family member one by one, eyes lighting up anew with each set of names.  I added that I thought our trip to the dam was my favorite (also the only sunny day).  We saw a beaver make its way out of the incredibly tumultuous water just below the dam and up onto the rocky side; when we last saw it, it was heading to what looked like a dead end, but maybe it knew something we didn’t know.  Hopefully.

And we did a virtual chalice every night of the trip, but last night, when we arrived home, we were just too tired, so I kissed him on the head and said goodnight.  And goodnight Christmas.  Despite the ornaments that still have to be taken down, the spirit of the season has dwindled, as it must to be fresh next year.  Happy new year!

 

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Things have been a little Christmas-chaotic lately, so I’ve had trouble finding time to document our UU advent activity.  Here’s a catch-up.

December 4: Advent is a time of waiting. What is something you wait for eagerly? “Baseball season, and summertime to see my friends and relatives”

December 5: Why is it important to say thank you? “Even though you may not know it, it helps bring up your mood and overall happiness”

December 6: Tell me about a time you felt lucky.  “I was lucky to be born into this family :-)” (smiley face his…)

December 7: What is the power of a smile?  “It is the same as saying thank you”  Me: “Can you elaborate?”  Him: “It makes both people feel happy”

December 8: Let’s plan an activity for winter. What should it be?  “Making Snickerdoodles on a snow day”  When he read it to me he added, “If I can wait until then.”

December 9: Does your energy change when you sit in the darkness?  “I don’t think so, but it might be different without me knowing it.”

In order of presentation: Predictable in a good way, interesting this answer was self-focused, sweet, I agree, bring on the snow, and I wonder if he has ever just sat quietly in darkness.  I think that will be my suggestion for a winter activity (he’ll be thrilled).

At the chalice lighting last night B was thankful for a Santa hat that is battery operated and plays Jingle Bell Rock while the top flips back and forth.  It is, miraculously, in its fourth season, and it still works!  Well, we did change the batteries and maneuver parts hidden in the top of the hat where they had come loose resulting in the hat just sort of quivering.  I was thankful for the nap I took in the afternoon.

And for him, but I think that’s obvious.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Tree decorating baggage

Day 2 of our Advent calendar.  Mythankfulboy’s direction was to tell me something he looked forward to in the coming year.  The first thing he asked was, “In high school, or in 2016?”  I was still putting lights on the tree.  I had had to fuss to get him off of Xbox after having given him plenty of warning of when he was supposed to be done, and I was annoyed.  The thought that crossed my mind was something along the lines of, and please forgive the blasphemous language of my inner thoughts, “Jesus Christ, B, what do you think it means?  It says ‘in the coming year.'”  Luckily, I checked this thought (or, as we say at work and at home, I kept it in my thinking bubble) and said, “2016”.  This is where I started the evening.

Between his question and the chalice lighting, I finished the lights and strung the garland.  I was in my element.  I then began hanging glass ice cycles which happened to be in the box with the garland.  I asked B to hang a few.  He sighed heavily and laid his head on the arm of the chair as though he were just too exhausted.  I went straight to guilt.  “The tree obviously means a lot to me.  You can’t even muster enough energy after hours of gaming to hang a few ice cycles?”  He got up and hung a few ice cycles all in the same 12″ square area.  I told him to actually move his stinkin’ feet around and spread them out.  He told me he didn’t want to do it at all if I were going to correct how he did it.  I said he wasn’t 4 anymore, and he knew I didn’t want them all in one spot.  And then I cried.

Ok.  I suck.  He’s 13, and he’s going to act like this sometimes, and he had had a migraine earlier in the day, so he may not have been at 100%.  I’m 47 and I shouldn’t act like this.  And, there’s the little thing you may recall from past years – I find some reason to get upset around the tree every year.  I have tree decorating baggage.  He stood there and looked at me, as a scientist might when trying to understand the origin of an odd behavior in a monkey.  He wasn’t annoyed or frightened, and the truth is, I’m a pretty emotional person, so he’s fairly used to my bursting into tears over everything from Christmas coffee commercials to any meanness in the world.  This time, though, he knew he had a hand in it, and he was trying to figure out exactly how the situation had devolved so quickly and what to do about it.  He wisely said, “I’m going to brush my teeth and then I’ll be right back.”  He then returned, asking what was next to do on the tree.

This part of the evening done (thank goodness?), we moved on to the snowglobe chalice lighting.  I brought in a snowglobe and a silly stuffed singing reindeer that sings “We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new deer”, and neither worked.  We changed batteries and got partial function in both.  We turned out the lights and talked about his Advent calendar prompt and did our snowglobe chalice thankfulness ritual.  For the prompt about what he looked forward to in the coming year, he said, “More independence”, quickly adding, “but not from you, mom – I’m thinking about high school”.  I pushed back the hair on his forehead and kept in my thinking bubble that I knew that it was okay if he meant it.  He continued on to say, “and I’m thankful you were there for me when I was sick at school”.  I said, “Yeah, that was what I was going to say, too.  It was so nice that I was close to home so I could keep up with your texts and be ready to go get you if you needed me to”.  I told him I was sorry for my outburst at the tree; that I had overreacted because of some of my own stuff.  I said that he may have noticed the theme lately around his not paying attention to what other people need or want, and that it affects me, yes, but that my bigger thought is for him. I really want him to practice and develop this skill because it is a skill he’s going to need in future relationships, and one that will have a huge impact on his happiness.  He reached out and put his hand on my arm and we sat quietly for a minute, listening to the Chrismas carols played by the miniature retro TV that had a snow scene inside of it.  He said, “We’ll do better tomorrow night.”

God bless him, and may it be so.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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What does kindness look like

Advent is upon us, and I realized I didn’t really know much about it.  My friends M, J, & S have an Advent wreath with four candles, and B has an Advent calendar in the form of 26 small cubbies behind tiny little doors in which I have typically stuffed candy.  When I was small, growing up in a Methodist church, I remember celebrating it, vaguely, but it’s meaning?  Yeah, gone.

So, I did some very light research, enough to decide that Advent was intended as a period of deprivation towards cleansing in preparation for welcoming newcomers into the Christian faith, and later to prepare for the coming (first or second) of Christ.  As with so many things, I wondered how we’d gone from a month or more of giving meaningful things up to getting something each day.  I decided that I didn’t want to change the candy-in-the-calendar tradition because mythankfulboy really looks forward to the treat, but I wanted to add a little meaning.  So, I borrowed and adapted from Childrenchalice.wordpress.com (which I found through the Alice the Chalice facebook page) a series of questions designed to ask kids at dinner each night of Advent.  I wrote one for each day on a thin slip of paper and tucked one into each box.  I asked him to respond on the back (tiny paper means wording doesn’t have to be elegant) and to deliver it to our evening chalice lighting for a bonus piece of chocolate.  Yes, a bribe – I mean, a reward.

Yesterday the paper read, “What does kindness look like?”  Mythankfulboy’s response was “It looks like going out of your way to make people happy.”   He delivered it to me while I was putting lights on the Christmas tree, which is a two-evening process because I wrap each branch (I know, I know, but it makes me happy!)   He sat in the red, cushy chair beside the tree and watched me wrap lights while we talked about his answer.  His first thought was that it was a hard question to answer without mixing “kindness” with “happiness”.  I said I thought that was because happiness – specifically someone else’s happiness – is usually central to kindness.  We talked about times that making someone happy wasn’t the goal of kindness, and our examples were usually around supplying something that fulfilled a need instead of a want, which came around to happiness again because, when you step up and help someone get what they need, they are relieved and happy that someone cared enough to help them.  He also brought up that kindness doesn’t have to mean going out of your way – that it can be something that barely takes a moment, but has a big impact, and maybe a bigger impact than you’d ever imagine.  He said it was easy to be kind to me, because it’s easy to make me happy.  At the time I just smiled, because it’s true for the most part, and it was sweet to hear.  Now that I reflect on this, though, I think I’ll go back to him and ask him about being kind to people who may not be easy to make happy, or to people who may reject our attempts at generosity.  Things worth spending time thinking about, right?  Thank you, Advent.

We revealed a favorite snow globe from his collection last night – a light-up Santa with a glowing globe in front of him, a long scroll to which he’s referring, and swirling glitter.  B has a sizeable collection, and this year I thought we’d get one out each evening instead of plunking them all down at once.  In the glow of the snow globe chalice, B said he was thankful for a good day.  I was thankful for having gotten lights on the bottom half of the Christmas tree…

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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