All-in-all, Thanksgiving and its weekend were kind to us. We did things we wanted to do, got a few things that needed to be done accomplished (including a new schemata of our fuse box, but that’s a long story), Mythankfulboy got a pair of sneakers (a Thanksgiving weekend tradition, complete with shopping at the mall on Black Friday), we shopped with J & V for our Christmas tree, and we got about 2/3rds of the tree decorated (long electrical story linked to the fuse box). Along the way we were thankful for new shoes, Christmas lights, J & V, and UU resources online.
I had my annual holiday struggle with my mother and sister, this year over whether or not to do gifts (my not wanting to and their wanting to). My mother tried to draw a distinction between giving gifts and giving money (she wanted to do the latter), and she and I got very frustrated and upset. Finally she said, “It’s what Christians do at Christmas, Lynn”, and it suddenly and completely made sense to me that my discord with my family at Christmas has a lot to do with my being secular, or at least not traditionally Christian, about the holiday, and I realized for the first time the degree of discomfort I have always had because I feel like I’m intruding on a very precious time for them. This caused me considerable angst, and I spent a good deal of time examining more closely my relationship with Christmas.
Meanwhile, when B was small, someone gave him an Advent calendar with candy tied to each day. I had always been ambivalent about it, given that Advent was meant to be a period of deprivation and reflection, not another opportunity for a gift. Last year, to try to make it more meaningful, I asked him to retrieve (along with his candy) a small piece of paper with an instruction for a mini-reflection of one sort or another each day (e.g., Advent is a time of waiting. What is something you wait for eagerly?; What does kindness look like?) My questions were adapted from something posted on Childrenchalice.wordpress.com last year (sorry – I can’t find the exact link). I revived the practice this year, and I’ll be excited to see how his answers have changed from the answers of a 13-year-old.
So, last night at the chalice lighting we read about the origins of Advent, and talked about how our tradition is both a departure from and an embracing of the Christian tradition. We lit the candles of a small Christmas pyramid (German spinning toy), and we read the following prayer by UU minister David Breeden, the first of a series of prayers, one for each Sunday of Advent:
In this holiday season,
May we find the patience
To forgive ourselves;
To forgive those who do not do as we wish;
May we find patience.
May we find the wisdom
To let be.
And so, I am very thankful for UU resources online, and for these words, in particular, to help me with my relationship with Christmas, and, by extension, with my family. I’m thankful to B for listening as I struggle with these questions. Last night, at the Advent chalice lighting, he was thankful for the tree, and for the holiday weekend. I was thankful for time together.