The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree

Come check out the Giving Tree, in the Commons now through Christmas, and see all the decorations the kids and adults made in our crafting party last month.  The Giving Tree is a fundraising project to raise funds for holiday giving to families who need a bit of help this season and to local homeless services such as our own Out of the Woods shelter or Sidewalk.  Donate anything you are able to give, and please take a lovingly crafted ornament home as a Thank You from the kids!

On Memorial Day, It’s OK to Feel All the Feelings


How should we as UU parents explain Memorial Day to our children?  Although UU’s are generally pacifistic, as our 6th Principle indicates (in the children’s language): Insist on Peace and Justice Around the World.  However, individual UU’s have and do serve in the military (I did), and there are military families within our UU congregations.

Memorial Day is a day to remember the dead from all the wars our country has fought.  I don’t know about you, but I have very conflicted feelings about much in American history – our country has done many things that were unfair or wrong or even horrible, and we modern Americans are the heirs to that legacy.  Our country also has had many wonderful ideas and ideals and there were brave and courageous men and women who fought – in one way or another, if not always just physically – for those ideals.  And we are the heirs to that legacy also.

And then there are all the lives that were cut short – men and women who had families and were loved and would have rather lived on.  I think it is only right that we pause to remember and honor those lives, for they died in the name of our country whether or not we agreed with the justifications of that war.

My feelings on this day are all mixed up, but mostly I feel sad.  And it is OK for children to feel sad, too – it’s part of life.  As a good parent, you do not need to shield them from these realities.  In fact, you do them a disservice if you don’t allow the full range of feelings.  Feel all the Feelings, and then talk about them.

This is why The Wall by Eve Bunting is the go to book for many teachers on Memorial Day, I think.  It is a simple and lovely story about visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, with the emotional poignancy of this day presented in clear and child-friendly terms.

And then, if you have a memorial or a cemetery within visiting distance, take the kids to visit today.  Take flowers to leave there, or make a pinwheel for peace and leave it.  We can remember the dead and wish for peace in the future at the same time – it’s a perfect time to wish for peace, in fact.



And so, today I don’t wish you a “Happy” Memorial Day, exactly.  I wish you an Emotionally Honest and Reflective Memorial Day.  As I did last year, I’ll be taking my children to the local war memorials, and feeling many complicated feelings myself.


Happy Mother’s Day to All Who Mother



Happy Mother’s Day to all who do the work of mothering in this world, and all who care and provide nurture to the young (and not-so-young) who need it.  I am enjoying a very unusual, for me, Mother’s Day and am writing this in bed while my husband and children are cooking me breakfast.  Normally I have to be up and off to church so early on a Sunday that I have missed this particular Mother’s Day ritual over the years, but in the last week of my sabbatical I get to enjoy this lazy Sunday.

And Happy Mother’s Day as well to those who may not feel included on this day: the foster parents, the women who have struggled with fertility, those estranged from their mothers or their children, those who have lost children, or the women whose choice to not have children often feels judged or criticized.  As a wise friend wrote on her Facebook page today: “just because I’m celebrating doesn’t mean everyone is, and I have to remember that.”

Mother’s Day itself began as a rallying cry for mothers to band together and call for peace, and for an end to their children (sons, mostly, back then) being sacrificed to war.  Unitarian Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870, following the American Civil War.

In the last few years, the Unitarian Universalist Association has partnered with Strong Families to promote a Mother’s Day (Or “Mama’s Day) that is a more diverse and multicultural and justice-oriented affair.  I’ve also been reading other wonderful ideas for a way to make Mother’s Day go beyond a card and flowers:

Support a local diaper bank, if your community has one.

Light a Candle and pray for the girls kidnapped in Nigeria.

Read books to your kids that show a diversity of mothers and family-types, and learn more about the struggles other families face. (Ideas from the UUWorld Parenting Blog)

Take action on any of the issues identified as important to Moms.  Most of these issues should be important to us all!


The flowers, cards, gifts, and breakfasts are lovely, but this day can go beyond that.  My experience of motherhood has been all about loving: the love my mother gave me and the love I give my children.  And that motherly love seeks to provide nurture and safety.  Wouldn’t a world transformed by motherly love be a world where everyone received what they needed (food, shelter, love , acceptance, opportunities, etc) and were safe?  While appreciating the mothers closest to us is a lovely thing to do – and I appreciate it! – we can also see this as a day to extend that ideal motherly love beyond our own family circles, and spread it out into the world.  May it be so.