UU Mormon

Archive for December 2011

sunrise Butterfly asked if we could celebrate the winter solstice this year.  It’s just the kind of thing that speaks to her on a spiritual level — that sense of being part of the cycle of the natural world.  We didn’t quite know how to celebrate it, so we spent some time surfing the web reading pagan/Wiccan websites and being very entertained.  I always knew that a lot of Christmas traditions and symbols were left over from pagan solstice observances, but I didn’t realize how pervasive it is.  It makes sense that efforts to focus on Christ at Christmas have never really caught on — there just isn’t much about it that’s truly Christian in origin.

For our little celebration we turned off all the lights in the house during the afternoon, then once the sun had set, we lit some candles (following the example of the solstice service at church last week, we had four candles, one for each compass direction), read “The Shortest Day” by Susan Cooper, sang “Deck the Halls”, and each opened one of our presents.  That was more than enough for NinjaBoy, who opened his new iPod Touch and hasn’t wanted to talk about anything else since. Butterfly and I made some garlands of popcorn and cranberries, and I frosted the Yule log cake, but Horatio had choir practice and didn’t get home until nearly 11 and I was asleep by then, so we had it for breakfast instead.


In the morning we took a walk in the woods at sunrise and put out nuts for the squirrels, NinjaBoy playing with his iPod all the while, and hung our cranberry/popcorn garlands on a bush in the backyard for the squirrels and chipmunks and birds.  There is evidence the critters have found them — I put some extra popcorn bits and cranberries on the top rail of the fence and it’s all cleaned off now.  Hopefully there won’t be any repercussions of attracting vermin — uh, woodland creatures — to our yard.

Breakfast was a sugar overload.  Not only did we have Yule log cake (with cream cheese frosting), but I couldn’t resist trying out a recipe for Nutella bread pudding. So good! And easy.  My kind of recipe.

Yule log

I’m fairly certain we will celebrate the solstice again next year.  Everybody enjoyed it, even NinjaBoy, and not only because he got to open a present early.  He especially liked the sunrise walk and asked if we could do it again.  I expected it to feel fake or forced — “real” holidays are the ones that you’ve grown up with and that are kind of organic.  Traditions just happen, you can’t manufacture them. But this felt like a real holiday, a cross between Christmas and New Year’s. And actually, it felt much more like an authentic holiday than New Year’s, because it was based in something real occurring in the physical world.  

After spending the morning in the quiet (and swampiness) of the woods and eating sweets with my family, it was interesting to scan through all the posts in my Facebook feed about the horrors of the traffic around the malls and the “Air Jordan” riots and think about how stressed out people are getting ready for the holidays, when I was feeling like it was a holiday.  A day for sitting around “playing with our electronics”, as NinjaBoy said. Christmas almost seems like an afterthought.  Not that the kids would agree with me on that. I hope we have enough presents…


Back however-long-ago it was that I decided to try the UU church, one of the main reasons I was interested in it was their sexuality class for 8th graders.  It’s called Our Whole Lives (OWL) and it covers… everything. Takes all the mystery out of sex.  It covers stuff I never even heard of until I was in my 30’s.  No, I won’t elaborate.

Somehow Butterfly got to 8th grade — I’m really not sure when my little baby turned into this young woman who is living in our house now — and she is taking the OWL class.  At the parent orientation the team of teachers made it clear that what the kids share in class is confidential. It’s very important that the kids feel comfortable asking questions and sharing thoughts without having to worry about it getting back to their parents.  But, as I pointed out to Butterfly, she can tell me about the topics they discuss, in general terms.  When I mentioned it, Butterfly thought about it for a minute and then said “Yeah, but I don’t see why you’d need to know.”

So, I have a class schedule that lists the topics of each lesson, but no idea what Butterfly’s reaction to any of it is.  Ah well.  She says it’s fun though.  NinjaBoy is very intrigued by it — Butterfly told him it’s a class that’s entirely about “inappropriate stuff.” He just started the school version (FLE) where they learn about puberty, sex, and STDs, and Butterfly commented on how little they tell you in FLE compared to OWL.  Just as well.  The first FLE lesson covered basic anatomy and NinjaBoy came home very grossed out.

In other church news, Horatio joined the choir and it has been a fantastic experience for him.  They do a wide variety of music, the choir director is really good, and it’s challenging enough to be exciting, but not super stressful.  There are, oh, 15 or so men in the choir, and Horatio is one of only 3 tenors, so he feels a lot of responsibility to get it right (especially when he’s the only one singing a certain part, since he’s the only 2nd tenor).  He practices at home, listens to the practice CDs in the car, and is generally having a great time.  Last week the whole service was the choir singing Rutter’s Magnificat.  It was wonderful.

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