Epiphany (peanut butter Sunday)

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One of the things I loved the most about our church in New Jersey was how simplified the lessons were in the family services. Children were the intended target for the messages, but adults learned memorable lessons as well.

Take peanut butter Sunday. Some called it Epiphany. In the Anglican faith, the twelve days of Christmas culminate with Epiphany. This is the traditional day to celebrate the arrival of the three kings to witness Jesus’ birth and to bring presents.

In our Episcopal church, the children were asked to bring peanut butter from home for their gift to Christ. Next to the manger with the baby Jesus figure, jar after jar was brought forward to the altar by young children old enough to carry them. The gifts were for donation to the local food bank after the service.

I’ve often wondered if the children remember that ritual on the final day of Christmastide. Personally, it makes me want to commemorate the day now by eating something with peanut butter! Do you see how strong association and memories can be?

Our culture is pretty quick to dismantle decorations and remembrances of Christmas after December 25. We were invited to savor the 12 days and the season. I’m really trying still by walking the neighborhoods to see the light displays and still playing holiday music.

In memory of this tradition in our church, this cartoon depicts what could have happened at the altar with the innocence of a young child in mind.

A dress story

dress small2I can’t decide if I’m pretty or odd. Maybe both. I tried to look up my ancestry, but am a bit confused. I can’t find too much written about me. My label reads “Kroshetta By Papillon.”

Let me tell you a little something about my life.

Someone I’ve tried to forget took me to a consignment shop. I think I was taken out of the closet three or four times in that life. Once I got my outer self snagged on a chair railing. The last time worn, my previous owner thought her stomach a bit too round to wear me. That’s how I ended up in the shop in the first place.

It’s not fair to say that I was abused, but I can’t say that I was treated with much respect. After being worn, I was dropped on a closet floor and kicked to the side until a delicate washday. That didn’t come around too often. Yes, if truth were told, I did my part to make my original owner feel less than beautiful when wearing me. I knew I was destined for a better life.

My newest owner was browsing for something “resort casual” in that same consignment boutique with a day to spare in her search. Turns out that I was themed pretty well for an evening at Margaritaville Beach Resort in Hollywood, FL. I am a lovely blue color and have starfish in my crochet design.

Are those deep scalloped edges on the bottom a bit much? I’ve been sensitive about them, as my former owner mentioned she might chop them off to make the dress a bit more conservative. A vintage dress, for sure, I ride the current trend of making a statement, but am not too over the top. A low front perhaps, but you could never call me vulgar.

I’m the kind of dress that nobody else has. We had an interesting first date, my new owner and I. The night was a windy one on the 11th floor, bar/balcony of the hotel. Pieces of lettuce flew by the other guests like confetti on New Year’s Eve. Drinks were tossed about as if in gale force winds. Fortunately, my weight and length kept me down securely.

There was one positive compliment, and one comment about the dress looking comfortable. What does “comfortable” mean anyway? I hope that’s good. My under-slip is a lighter blue and smooth against the skin. The color matches her blue eyes well. Yes, I think we were an excellent match that night.

The big test will be if she chooses me again. Where will I hang in the closet? Will I be placed in the front as a favored piece of art to trigger memories of an excellent adventure? Will her 20-something daughters ever ask to wear me? It’s a new closet, and a new life. Anything is possible.


The joyful shopper

shopperSome of you have read my other blogs that include child-friendly stories triggered by my own experiences. Today I am reflecting on another familiar experience from my grown up life: the annual holiday shopping excursion.

It’s right before the holiday and I wandered into our local mall today. It felt good to have a day free of work pressures and to be able shop with a reasonable number of other shoppers. With no large list of gifts to purchase, I was able to enjoy the experience.

Today I saw that shoes were beautiful art pieces for feet, and purses were soft and colorful pouches to grace the shoulder. Neither was on my purchase list today. I chose, however, to enjoy all of the sights, sounds and smells I could discover.

Wandering up and down the center displays at Macy’s, I sprayed numerous samples of perfume for consideration. What a joy it is to see the different shaped bottles, varying colors of liquid in them (pinks, purples, green and gold) and with such delightful scents! It’s hard to buy a perfect perfume, so the hunt itself can be a sweet experience.

The rest of my experience at the local mall was similar. I had two stockings to fill for my grown daughters, and I wanted each item to be special. That’s a tradition I keep that will not be going away any time soon.

Over the years, I’ve found a way to make Christmas shopping a pleasurable experience. I only choose to go to stores (or online merchants) that bring me joy. My parents and uncle are delighted recipients of gifts from L.L. Bean’s Christmas wreath and evergreen centerpiece collection. I like to place my order by phone because they are so nice! (Are you sensing a common theme here?)

I had to stop at Barnes & Noble and drop a few dollars there. During the year I read many a magazine that I don’t end up purchasing. Bringing the score more even during the holiday season felt right. Oh, yes, and thank you Macy’s for the beautiful parade on Thanksgiving. That’s a big reason why I shop with you.

Many in my circle prefer not to exchange gifts, and that’s more than fine with me! Some like money. I’ve talked to many co-workers and family about holiday shopping. Many participate in the craziness, but don’t enjoy it. Others, like me, have found a method that suits their own beliefs and needs.

When I was a child, I knitted a hat for my dad one year and a pair of mittens the next. At the time, I couldn’t have fully understood how dear that was to do. If I had the time and half the patience I had when I was young, I would hand-make all of my gifts. Alas, that’s not my current reality. You may relate to this modern-day dilemma.

This posting is not an anti-materialistic rant, for sure. It is, however, a call to be mindful of each purchase. You don’t have to shop like me (unless it suits you), but by all means find a system that doesn’t rob you of your joy.


The farm animals and Christmas eve


Four friends sat underneath the Christmas tree in the late hours of Christmas eve. Colored lights and glass ornaments gave a warm glow to the room. On the boxes, and in sight of the Christmas stockings, sat a donkey, a cow, a pig and a frog.

You may have guessed that these friends were of the stuffed variety. They were born one by one by the hands of the mother of the house. Four young children were asleep in their beds, with no idea at all how clever and loving their mother was. Each animal was uniquely made, but in a similar style.

All animals were made of soft corduroy and had yarn-braided arms and legs. Their faces had felt pieces affixed to their heads, and some had ears. The donkey was a soft grey with black yarn. The cow was a medium brown with slightly darker arms and legs. The pig was a medium pink, and the frog had a color reminiscent of our familiar friend Kermit. They were proud of how clean they were and how fresh they felt.

Each of them wondered just how their lives would go. The donkey hoped that he could spend a little time on someone’s windowsill to see what goes on out of doors. The pig wondered if there would be any mud patches to roll his body around in. The frog, of course, hoped for a pool of water less dangerous than the toilet bowl. Now the cow wondered just what value he held, but mostly he wanted to be held. He was anxious to be gifted to a young boy or girl who would carry him on new adventures.

The pig tried to climb onto the package next to him. The frog leaped and tried to jump onto the mantel by the stockings. The cow told them that they had better keep a bit quiet so that the children did not wake up. Besides, Santa would not arrive and bring the other gifts for the children if they were too noisy. He might think the children were playing.

It was a long night for the animals. After playing, they laid down to rest and, apparently slept through Santa’s visit! His cookies and milk were gone, and none of the animals had dared touch them. The sounds of opening doors and shuffling feet approaching got the farm friends excited. It was going to be a great new life.