Here’s the prompt: We’ve entered a season loaded with traditions that are personal/family and liturgical. What are five of your favorite things about this season of Advent/time of year?
Candles, both at church and at home. At home we have a wreath and light it most nights. One of my favorite photos ever are my kids lighting the wreath in their snowman pajamas on Christmas Morning. At church, I help choose the candle lighting liturgy and the readers/lighters, and coach them through it.
Advent calendars. We always had little paper calendars with windows at home that my brother and I would take turns opening. There was no chocolate or anything life that. As a wife and mom, I bought an Advent house and fill it with chocolates each year. This year I ordered a Hogwarts Advent calendar. It’s nothing but fun.
“O Come O Come Emmanuel” and all the minor key Advent music. I’ve always loved pensive music. I tried making an Advent playlist from all my many Christmas albums once. There were about 8 versions of O Come and 3 other songs total.
The longest night service. The first time I attended (9 years ago), my cousin was dying from leukemia. I sobbed through the whole service. It has become one of my favorite services.
I just really love Advent (in a way that I don’t love Lent). I love the lights and the minor keys and the longing. I love the dark nights, the cooler weather, the chance to make soup and eat bread and take a step away from the busy-ness of the ever-impinging “Christmas” season.
From the RevGals on Facebook: Friday Five: Let’s Get Creative
In elementary school it may have been a brand new box of 64 Crayola crayons. Today it may be that one pen that fits your hand perfectly and writes smoothly. Or perhaps it’s your collection of Sharpie pens or Post-it notes.
What are your favorite school/office/art supplies?
Can I write an entire blog post about stationary supplies? Of course I can! I am the kid whose “candy” store was the stationary shop. I still love wandering around office stores.
Pens of all sorts. My colleague has a thing about fountain pens, and she has passed it on. I have two fountain pens. Right now one has green ink and one has blue, but I have purple and red cartridges waiting, and I am struggling not to just order more pens. I also buy sets of colorful pens fairly often and throw them in my backpack and pencil holders so I always have something to use. I take notes on my grade sheets and like alternating colors for each column.
Card stock. I love card stock. I have a pack of colored card stock that I use for name cards for my students. We use name cards, and I always set out the card stock in case anyone needs a new one (even though they are supposed to bring them back and forth).
Calendars. I love calendars. I have them in every room. We get a balloon calendar every year from my Albuquerque Aunt. We get a train calendar from the trains (something to do with our investments. It’s my spouse’s thing.) I make calendars with kid photos from each month the year before for my spouse to take to work and for our folks*. I carefully choose calendars each year for the kids, generally books or TV shows or movies, I was pleased to find an Anne of Green Gables calendar for the girl last year. It was from Korea, I think. The boy got Wimpy Kid. I always order two copies of the Salt of the Earth Christian Seasons calendar: one for my office at church and one to give away. I love the art they choose. I also find a calendar each year for my office at home. Last year my daughter bought Christmas gifts on her own with her own money for each family member, and she gave me the calendar I have had in my home office this year. It is horses because in her world I love horses. I have pushed Misty of Chincoteague on her (she never got into it) and I showed the family the Black Stallion for one of my movie nights (I read all the Black Stallion books that my elementary library had). I’ve never though of myself as a horse person, and never really wanted to ride horses, but she is not wrong. I read a lot of horse books as a kid, and they were meaningful to me.
Mechanical Pencils. I am a mechanical pencil person, and I love good ones. When teachers would worry that my pencil wasn’t #2 because it wasn’t yellow wood, I would assure them that it would be okay. I like the constant point and the ability to simply push to make it longer. We lived in Asia when I was in elementary school, and I found several things that I never turned back from. Mechanical pencils were one.
Pencil Boxes. While I’m talking about Asia, I might as well admit my lifelong love for Japanese pencil boxes. They had multiple sides and doors and secret compartments and were fascinating. My kids buy simple pencil bags each year when we get school supplies, and I am surprised that Japanese-style pencil boxes have never become a thing.
*I am mystified by my in-laws. They evidently use only 1 calendar and have space for only 1 calendar in their house. I give them a calendar with kid pictures every year and they put it in the same spot as their “real” calendar with the calendar part covered. They put it up. I’ll give them that. But I could just send them 12 photos. They say they don’t want to write on the “special” calendar. It baffles me that it has never occurred to them to put a second calendar in the office or their bedroom or even the bathroom. As I suggested above, I like knowing and being able to check the day and date in all the rooms, so I really don’t get it. My mom, on the other hand, has all the kid calendars up in her bedroom with the current one showing the whole calendar and past ones showing just the photos. Every month she has changed all of them so she can see the month photo for that year. It’s fun to look at. One of the first things I brought to the skilled nursing facility was her current kid calendar.
I was going to do a Friday Five, but never found the prompt. Then I thought I would do Seven on Sunday, but didn’t get to it. So now it’s either 2 or 10 today.
Since I had gone to Arizona the last two weekends, and lost my grading days, I spent pretty much the entire weekend grading. I am pleased to say that, for the moment, I am caught up.
The girl was on retreat this weekend. She hasn’t said much about it, but the parent who accompanied them said it was good.
My son and I watched the Dark Knight Christian Bale Batman trilogy when he was home sick. He loved it. On Saturday night, my spouse and I showed him the 1989 Tim Burton directed/Michael Keaton starring Batman. He acknowledged that it was okay (He loves Beetlejuice).
Today the Chile group is presenting about the trip at the board that oversees her charter school. It’s an hour away in the desert. We’ve been figuring out logistics so we can all go. The group has been working on the presentation via Google Classroom, each one contributing to the group slide show.
After missing Reformation and All Saints Day, I was back in church on Sunday. It felt good. I led the prayers of the people, and I found a prayer I had written 6 years ago for the same day (November 10, 2013) and so I revised that prayer. I might write differently now, but it was good enough. And it didn’t focus on, but did mention Veteran’s Day and our currently serving service members.
My mom continues to make slow progress. Her left vocal cord is not vibrating as it should, and that is keeping her from talking above a whisper and also from being able to drink fluids and have them go down the right pipe. Regardless, they are starting to talk about what’s next. I am looking in to places around here. If I don’t go sooner, all 4 Lambs will go for Thanksgiving and my brother will be there. I figure that will be a good time to figure some things out. It will also be the first time my kids will see her since the accident. I know they have been wondering and it’s hard to convey exactly what they will find.
We’re hoping to go the the Fathom Events Twilight Zone on the Big Screen event on Thursday.
We’re beginning to work on Advent plans at the church. I may not jump into Christmas in November, but I do begin to jump into Advent. We are using materials from A Sanctified Art. They do excellent work and I will probably dedicate whole post to them soon.
The girl is frustrated because they have turned to non-fiction in her language arts class. They are reading articles. “It has ‘science’ in the name of the article, Mom. Can’t we do that for science class? Why is it for Language Arts?” I don’t disagree. I suggested that they are still reading fiction because they are supposed to be reading 20 minutes a day for homework. She said, “yeah. The teacher gets annoyed because we tell our parents we don’t have homework when we always have homework. We’re supposed to read. You and Dad expect me to do something for homework. How can I tell you I’m supposed to read? That’s like telling you I need to breathe today or I need to eat.” We high-fived and laughed and talked about the necessities of life that I listed in the title.
Due to struggles with sleeping and over-use of gaming, we have reinstated a rule we had for years but had let slide: no screens after dinner. I’ve been trying to abide by it myself (at least until the kids are in bed. Obviously I am on a screen right now), but I have the issue that I do most of my reading these days on my tablet or phone. I love electronic books. I can make a case for being able to read on a device, but for now I’m trying not to in these evenings, so I am doing some re-reading of old books I have held on to. Right now, I have been re-reading the Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper. I loved these books, and I still do. I am intrigued by the mythologies and the chosen one motif and the British-ness of it all and all the things I love about fantasy series. I have been thoroughly enjoying myself.
I am reminded of how intrigued I am by Wales. My first foray into Wales was Nancy Bond’s The String in the Harp. I read that book over and over again when I was a kid. It was complicated and intricate and heart wrenching. Then I read the Dark Is Rising series with some of the same themes and mythologies behind it (though they were Arthurian while the former was all about the specifically Welsh Taliesin.) Later, I read the Stephen Lawhead books which brought Taliesin and Arthur together. In the midst of this, there was also A Swiftly Tilting Planet with its connections between Wales and New England with the Welsh Prince Madoc. This was another complex book that I read over and over. Later, I discovered the ideas of Celtic Christianity which continue to intrigue me. And so Wales fascinates me and I have never been there. I want to go and explore and live all of my childhood fantasies. (I understand that I will not actually go back in time or meet King Arthur or anything else. Still. I’d like to see the places and my imagination is strong.)
The girl and I keep talking about getting to Britain, but it has been harder than I expected, and this (2019-2020, I think in academic years) may not be the year we get to get away. So, as I keep saying to her, “Maybe next year.”
A young adult elder and lector/liturgist for the day helps a child light a candle as names of those who left us this year are called on All Saints Day. This is a service I planned and put in place. Though I was not there to see it, this photo tells me that at least something of it worked.
I have 13% left on my battery and no charger with me in Arizona this weekend. I am vaguely attempting national blog posting month, but I expect I will let that go soon.
I am thinking about card games. My maternal grandma lived to be in her nineties and my paternal grandfather lived to 100. When we visited, one of the great things to do was card games. We were able to be together, but didn’t have to try and come up with awkward conversation. When they were unable to play cards anymore (both of them had issues with macular degeneration causing blindness), I felt a loss. I’m not someone who can chit chat and make conversation, something I noticed with them, with my kids when they were little, and with my mom these days. I am grateful today that I tried cards. We spent a good hour playing a favorite, fairly complicated card game. My mom was great. She shuffled and dealt on her turns. She knew the rules and played the game. The only thing was that she didn’t really understand the concept of wild cards (and in this game they change every hand). She pretty much used the wild cards at their value. I won more hands, but I had a particularly bad hand, so she won the game. It was fun.
We have also been watching Hallmark and Lifetime Christmas movies, an activity I have eschewed previously. I could critique these films, but I will not. They are sweet. There is not a cynical frame in the film. I can live with that.
In our Protestant circles we conflate All Saints and All Souls because we believe we are all saints. Tonight I am thinking of a couple of souls who were important in my mom’s life and who have departed this week.
Neither was an easy person, but they were both in my mom’s circles, and loved by people she loved. It makes me sad that she isn’t able to be there for her friends. And it is hard to break the news to her.
And so… All Soul’s Day: two beloved children of God (no matter how challenging they may have been to us) have joined the great cloud of witnesses this week. In life and in death we belong to God.
(edited to take out a lot of specific details that weren’t really necessary.)
for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.
Bookgirl’s Current Favorite Quote
So let’s get out there and be God people, Compassion people, Spirit people. Not to convert, but to heal, to serve, to witness, and to love.
--Peacebang Beauty Tips for Ministers
I’m a commissioned ruling elder interested in what is happening in the church. What I say should in NO WAY reflect my church, the larger PC(USA), or Christians in general.
Anything not attributed to someone else has been written by me, Bookgirl.