Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

Christmas evolution

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 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.


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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Christmas magic

A quiet Thanksgiving was had with J & M & S.  Snow almost kept us from going, but we woke on Thanksgiving morning and found our way out of town.  M was sick, and J was getting sick, so we chilled for the most part, but J did his usual, fabulous smoked thing with the turkey.  We returned home in time for Crossfit (really?!), and the next day did our annual tree shopping with our friends J and V.  The snow on the ground, and the love of our friends, made it picture perfect.  The tree came in the house and B headed off to his dad’s for the night and the following day.  When I went to bed late that night I had a moment of complete magic – Dobby, the Christmas elf passed down from my mom’s tree when I was a little girl, was propped up on my side table.  Our tradition is that he arrives the night of the tree.  I had no idea that B even knew where to find him in the Christmas things.  But when I saw Dobby beside my bed, my first thought was not that B had put him there, but that he had arrived on his own.  What a wonderful gift – Christmas magic.  What a sweet boy.

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Posted by on December 2, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Connection, words not necessary

Tonight, as part of the UUA sponsored 30 Days of Love, B and I read a blog about rewriting history to reflect the experiences of all people.  The author, Dayna Edwards, reflected on being a white woman, with all of her white privilege, married to an Afro-Caribbean man, raising their two daughters to be black women.  This struck home for B, because one of his favorite cousins has a white mother and a black father, and his skin is dark enough that he is more likely to be identified by others as black, no matter how he self-identifies.  It gave us the opportunity to talk about white privilege in the “simple” terms of not having your intentions questioned when you’re white and having them regularly questioned when you’re black.  We didn’t, yet, tackle all the other things that go with white privilege.

Next we went to the website for the Race Story reWrite Project ( and watched several videos of stories posted there about the individuals’ experiences around broadening our understanding and experience of interconnection and race. Jeremy’s story of spontaneous musical connection across race, age, and background reminded me of a beautiful moment B and I had at Thanksgiving one year in New York City.  I may have blogged about it in the past.   Today the memory flows in slow motion for me.  I raised it with B, and he remembered it well, too:

B and I had stayed overnight in the city to see the Macy’s Day Parade, and, when all the festivities were over, we were passing some time before our train arrived in the hotel lobby.  The lobby was massive, with marble and mirror and grand, high ceilings.  It had been beautiful at one time; now it sparkled in remembrance.  It was cold out, and the lobby was full of an assortment of people speaking many languages, some in a great hurry.  Many, though, were waiting for something, like we were.  There was seating for at least a hundred, most of it on continuous couch-style embankments that ran for 10 feet or so along the wall and then jutted out into the lobby for 20, turning back on themselves to return to the wall and begin again, forming a series of “U’s”.  B was probably 7, maybe 8 years old, and had a rubber ball about the size of a baseball with him.  He sat across the U of seats from me and we tossed it back and forth.  We had not been at this game long when I saw a hand waving in my peripheral vision, and turned to see a tiny gray-haired woman who appeared to be from India, wearing a brightly-colored sari, smiling and waving, and gesturing for us to throw the ball to her.  We did, and a little boy from her family joined.  A few minutes later a man near me wearing a business suit, who had been speaking a Slavic language with a young woman, raised his hand to enter the game.  Before we knew it, it was a huge game, and the players were of every imaginable age, skin color, size, and shape. It proceeded in an orderly way, with much laughter and delight.  Not a word was spoken, but everyone instinctively knew they were included if they wanted to be.  People left the game as they needed to, and eventually we had to end the game to catch our train.  On our way out of the crowd, a woman stood and hugged me; people tousled B’s hair.  It was one of the most magical happenings of my life.  But it wasn’t me that started it; I was just open for the opportunity to widen my community.  

B and I talked about the ways that not talking, but doing, can create community.  I hope to surround him with opportunities to do.  

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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Uncategorized


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A painful Thanksgiving tradition

Thursday I ate until my belly hurt. Friday I smiled until my jaws ached. Today I laughed ’til my sides cramped. Literally – hurt, ached, cramped. B and I look forward to it every year.

Tonight, upon arriving home from our annual Thanksgiving trip, we lit the chalice and I asked B for what he was thankful.

B: Do you really have to ask?
M: Well, I feel pretty sure I know, but sometimes you surprise me!
B: I’m thankful for Thanksgivings with M, J, and S! I had a great Thanksgiving!

Truly, there is no greater treasure than friends with whom you can laugh and cry and share new ideas and old memories. And what a blessing to share that kind of joy with your kids. We love you M, J, and S!

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Posted by on December 1, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Daily practice

Today being Thanksgiving, I find that I am less inclined to light the chalice and do our evening thankfulness ritual. That may seem counterintuitive, but somehow I feel like the day in its traditional form, although wonderful in many ways as a time to gather, is not adequately about gratitude. If there is any tradition of thankfulness around the table, it comes in the form of a blessing before eating, or a forced go-around-the-table-and-say-something-for-which-you’re-thankful. Those are the worst, at least in the gatherings I’ve experienced. It makes me want to shake off the anxious feeling going around the room of get-this-over-with, even as I write about it now.

Why are we anxious about being thankful? Because gratitude is a very pure emotion, piercing facades and getting right to priorities – and priorities can and will be judged. Because gratitude admits that we aren’t superhuman, and that our lives might be lacking in some way without the people and things for whom we are thankful. Because we’re afraid that there is a right way and a wrong way to be thankful, and we might not choose well. And because we’re out of practice.

The truth is that those anxieties fade away when we practice gratitude daily. We get used to sharing real feelings and we recognize our priorities in new ways. Ritualizing gratitude raises our awareness of all the people and things on which we depend on a daily basis, which makes us more comfortable with our place in the web of life instead of being the star around which everything must, or must appear to, revolve. Practicing thankfulness means we get better at it, and less afraid of doing it wrong. And maybe it is one step towards identifying the people in our lives who love us for the paths we’ve chosen, and not in spite of them. Being thankful with those folks is hard to mess up.

So, I am just as thankful on this day as any other, despite my jaded wish to dissociate myself a bit from the holiday. And so we light our chalice. Tonight B was thankful for the precious friends we traveled to see for Thanksgiving. I am thankful for our time with them, too, for the abundance we shared, and despite my ranting, for the occasion that brought us together.

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Posted by on November 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


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