CliF Notes

A curriculum for families and small groups

 

October 2018

 

Week One – October 7th  

Welcoming Babies

 

Supplies Needed: blank versions of baby welcoming books created by copying template below, cutting into four quarters and stapling quarters into book form; crayons, pencils and/or markers

 

Note: If you created an opening worship during the Sept. 29th session that you would like to use, by all means substitute that for all of some of what is suggested here and in the weeks to follow.

 

Opening Words

 

We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

Or

 

In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

 

 

Check in

You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering

Sing “Enter, Rejoice and Come In”

 

Enter, rejoice and come in,

Enter, rejoice and come in,

Today will be a joyful day,

Enter, rejoice and come in.

 

-- by Louise Ruspini

 

See here for the tune. You may want to sing this brief, lively tune several times over. We’ll add verses as we go through the month.

 

Introduction

We’ve been talking about what rituals are and what they do. One of the ways that people use rituals is to mark special occasions, or to honor the important moments in life. One of the very most important, of course, is when babies are born. Different cultures and different religions have different ways of ritually welcoming babies, as well as all kinds of less formal family traditions. Does your family have anything that you do when someone you care about has a baby? (Often people give gifts.)

 

Story

Every family has its own stories about the day that their child/ren were born or came to them for adoption. Religions often have stories about the special things that happened which their religious leader was born. Here is a story about the birth of Buddha:

 https://www.questformeaning.org/family-quest/big-questions-family/the-birth-of-buddha-a-story-from-india/

 Of course, the story of each person’s birth is pretty amazing. There are billions of people in the world and no two people in all of history have been quite the same. But every last one grew and developed inside their mother or birthmother’s uterus, getting bigger and more complex, squirming and kicking and flipping until it was time to push their way out.

 

Game

Unless there’s a medical need for a baby to be taken out surgically, when it’s time for a baby to be born the mother’s belly squeezes and pushes, sending the unborn baby down the birth canal until it finally sees the light of day. I don’t suppose any of you remember what that was like, but maybe we can imagine it.

Have everyone (even two people will work) form two lines, fairly close together. One person is the “baby” and the others form a tunnel that squeezes and pushes the “baby” down toward the end. When the “baby” arrives, everyone in the tunnel cheers.

 

Note: children who are claustrophobic or don’t like to be touched probably won’t enjoy this game. And older children are likely to find it too goofy. Another alternative is to talk about how as the baby comes out it is caught by a doctor, midwife, nurse or parent, and that the first welcome into the world each person gets is the experience of having someone there to catch you. Then, form a circle, very close in, shoulder to shoulder, with one person in the middle. The person in the middle holds their body rigid, and falls toward the circle. Someone catches them, and pushes them gentle to fall in another direction, where another person catches them. Of course, this activity only works if you have enough people to form a circle with no gaps (shoulders touching).

 

Activity

Do you know anyone who is expecting a baby? Even if you don’t now, you probably will. We’re going to make baby welcoming books that can be presents for the parents of new babies – or just a way to think about how you would want to welcome a baby into the world. Each page has a phrase at the top, and we’ll use words and pictures to finish the sentence and make our own special welcome book. (For younger children you may wish to use an entire page per phrase, rather than creating a book out of four quarters of a page stapled together. The template below should print out as a phrase for each quarter of the page.)




Welcome!       One of the best things about the world is…

 









I hope you… One thing I’d like to teach you is…



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion

Do you know anything about your own birth or adoption story? Why did your parents choose the particular name you were given? What do you think children can do to welcome babies?

 

Closing

Have participants share their welcome books. Offer the option of putting the book in the worship treasure box if the child doesn’t have a family to whom they would like to give it. Close with these words from Sophia Lyon Fahs:

 

Each night a child is born is a holy night—

A time for singing,

A time for wondering.

A time for worshipping.

 

NOTE: NEXT WEEK’S LESSON INCLUDES A STORY THAT IS NOT PROVIDED IN THE CURRICULUM.

 


 

Week Two – October 14th

Naming/Welcoming Ceremonies

 

Supplies Needed: Copy of the story “Welcoming Babies” by Margy Burns Knight or of “On the Day You Were Born” by Debra Frasier (Note that these books are not included here – you will need to purchase or find in local library), easel, easel paper, markers, fabric swatches, baby dolls (One for games, and one per participant for gown activity. If you don’t have enough baby dolls, Barbie-type dolls or stuffed animals will do.), scissors, staplers, yarn

 

Opening Words

 

We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

Or

 

In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

 

 

Check in

You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering

Sing “Enter, Rejoice and Come In”

 

Enter, rejoice and come in,

Enter, rejoice and come in,

Today will be a joyful day,

Enter, rejoice and come in.

 

Verse 2: Open your ears to the song….

 

-- by Louise Ruspini

 

See here for the tune.

 

Introduction

Last week we talked about welcoming babies, and the stories that go along with the arrival of babies into the world. This week we continue the theme by looking at religious rituals for welcoming babies – both the Christian traditions of christening and baptism, and the Unitarian Universalist tradition of baby dedication ceremonies.

 

Story

“On the Day You Were Born” is a lovely picture book by Debra Frasier which shows the natural world as well as the human world welcoming a newborn child. It is well known, and likely to be available at your public library. Used copies are available through amazon.com for $4 including shipping. Another excellent option, even more closely related to the topic, although perhaps more difficult to find, is “Welcoming Babies” by Margy Burns Knight, which shows how different cultures around the world welcome babies. If it isn’t available at your local library, very affordable copies are available at amazon.com and other online booksellers.

 

Dedication Ceremonies

Different religions have different rituals for welcoming and naming babies. Traditionally, Jewish people have a ceremony called a brit milah or bris that happens eight days after a baby boy is born. A Hindu naming ceremony is called a namkaran, and is usually done twelve days after the baby is born. In addition to a ritual bath for the mother and baby, and prayers, the ceremony usually includes putting a bit of honey or sugar on the baby’s lips.

 

Christians don’t have a particular day after the baby is born for their ceremony, but many kinds of Christian churches will have a christening, or baptism ceremony. The ceremony is somewhat different for different kinds of Christian churches, but some pieces are often the same. The family, and often the whole congregation, is there in the church to celebrate. The parents stand up with the baby, along with godparents, who are a couple who have agreed to have a special relationship with the child and make sure they get a good religious upbringing. Often the baby wears a special white dress, called a christening gown. The priest or minister puts a little bit of holy water on the baby, which symbolizes washing away sins. The parents and godparents promise to raise the child in the Christian faith, and the baby becomes officially a part of the church.

 

Unitarian Universalists churches often do baby dedication ceremonies. Unlike Christian churches, UUs don’t believe that babies are born with sins that need to be washed away and forgiven. UU baby ceremonies are a way to welcome babies or older children into the community of the church. Usually there is some part of the ceremony that involves the whole congregation promising to care for and include the child who is dedicated. There might be singing, and some kind of a blessing.

 

Game

In a baby dedication ceremony, the congregation promises to welcome the child, and to not let him or her down. We’re going to play a game with a baby doll called Don’t Drop the Baby! Everyone needs to get into a circle. We are all the congregation, and our job is to welcome this baby by passing it around the circle. But sometimes life gets difficult, and caring for children can take some effort – each time the baby goes around the circle, I’m going to give you a new challenge.

Start by simply handing the baby doll around the circle. Any time the baby is dropped it should be picked up, patted, and should go back to the point in the circle where it started around. Each time the baby is successfully handed around the circle, add a new challenge: stand on one foot, make up a name for it as it comes to you, put one hand on top of your head, hand the baby to the next person over the top of their head, don’t touch the baby with your hands, etc.

 

Design a Baby Dedication Ceremony

(Use easel paper and markers to record children’s suggestions—be open to possibilities that might be silly, but don’t write down anything that seems intended to harm the baby.)

There is no one right way to have a Unitarian Universalist baby dedication. If we were going to design a baby dedication ceremony, what would it look like? Would we use our chalice? Would we sing – if so, what? (In addition to the opening songs from this month and last, and other “church” songs that children might know, “Happy Birthday” would be a possibility.) Should we do something with water? How about other elements like earth, fire and air? Will we say the baby’s name? What might we promise the baby? Are there any other ritual actions you can think of that we might include?

 

Activity

A baby who is being baptized in the Christian tradition often wears a fancy white gown. This special outfit is often handed down through the generations in families. The white is a symbol of purity, which goes with the belief that in baptism the child is washed clean of sin. UUs don’t generally have any special clothes for the baby to wear for a dedication, but maybe we should. We’re going to create clothes for these dolls that are our own special dedication gowns. You can use this fabric – cut it, staple it together, tie it in place with yarn – to design your own UU dedication gown. Remember what we’ve said about symbols, that objects can stand for ideas. In the same way that a white Christian baptismal gown symbolizes purity, you might want to choose colors of the earth, or have a weaving of yarn for the interdependent web, or whatever else you can think of to symbolize our UU faith or the good wishes we might have for the child.

 

Discussion

Do you know if you had a baby or child dedication service? What would you want people to say if you were being dedicated at the age you are now?

 

Dedication Ritual


If you have time, choose from the responses that the children gave earlier to stage a dedication ceremony for the newly-dressed baby dolls.

 

Closing

Share these words from the Masai people of Africa. (#716 in Singing the Living Tradition, adapted)

 

Hail the day on which these children were born. Rejoice! Let us all sing and praise the families who longed for these children. Greet this day with joy. Our hearts are glad.

 

 

Week Three – October 21st  

Bronson Alcott and the First Principle

 

Supplies Needed: small pieces of paper and pencils

 

Opening Words and Chalice Lighting

We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

Or

 

In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

 

 

Check-in: You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering:

Sing “Enter, Rejoice and Come In”

 

Enter, rejoice and come in,

Enter, rejoice and come in,

Today will be a joyful day,

Enter, rejoice and come in.

 

Verse 2: Open your ears to the song….

 

Verse 3: Open your hearts everyone….

 

-- by Louise Ruspini

 

See here for the tune.

 

Introduction

We’ve been talking this month about rituals for welcoming babies. The UU way of welcoming babies, celebrating who they are and dedicating ourselves to supporting them as they grow, connects to our 1st UU Principle: “the inherent worth and dignity of very person.” Unitarian Universalists believe that every person is important and deserves to be treated with respect. Today we’re going to learn about someone who really tried to change how children were taught in school, so that that principle of valuing who each person is inside could be a central part of education.

 

Story

Have you read – or see the movie of – Little Women? Louisa May Alcott was a Unitarian who wrote Little Women. She also wrote Little Men and a whole bunch of books for older children that were tremendously popular back when she wrote them in the late 1800s, and are still very popular today. Amos Bronson Alcott was Louisa’s father, and if you’ve read Little Men, then you heard some about the methods of the radical schools that her father founded.

 

Bronson Alcott believed that all knowledge and moral sense of what is right come from inside a person, and that it is the teacher’s job to help these inner gifts unfold.  At a time when almost everybody assumed that the way to teach children was to tell them things to write down and memorize, Bronson Alcott used questions to draw out the students’ ideas, rather than simply telling them what to think.  He brought art, music, PE and the study of nature into the classroom at a time when no one thought these subjects belonged in school.  Many people thought that Alcott, and his teaching methods, were downright peculiar, and the schools were never very successful, at least in terms of making money for the Alcott family to live on. But he stuck to his principles, and taught in the way that his thought was best for the children.  Which probably explains why parents kept pulling their children out of his schools.  However, Bronson Alcott’s family continued to love and support him, even after his schools kept failing, and they had to move more than 20 times in 30 years. His wife, Abigail, worked as one of the earliest social workers, and was often the one who supported the family.

 

Bronson Alcott’s lack of worldly success definitely had something to do with the fact that he was ahead of his time in his ideas about education. But it’s also true that he was rather extreme in his views, and sometimes downright dotty. He helped to establish a shared farm, based on his high ideals, named “Fruitlands.”  Even from our point of view much later in history, it does seem a bit overboard when he refused to disturb the worms in the apples, and insisted that they not plant vegetables such as carrots whose roots went straight down, rather than reaching upward toward the sky.  Still, they lived what they believed in.  Bronson designed pants suits made of linen so that they would not use cotton, which was picked by slaves, and he encouraged the use of raw, vegetarian foods, so that women wouldn’t have to spend so much time cooking in the kitchen.

 

Not surprisingly, the farm, like the schools, failed.  The world wasn’t ready for such an idealist, but Bronson kept trying to put my ideas forward through lectures on everything from God and education, to animal rights and vegetarianism.  He didn’t make much money even at that, and their family only became financially stable when Louisa’s books gained such success. 

 

Bronson Alcott may not have been a financial success, and he may have been goofy in the eyes of the proper Boston community of his day, but his ideas of education as a way of growing the wisdom and understanding that are already inside a person live on. If you think that schools should work from an understanding of the worth of every person – or even if you just like the fact that your school has PE – you can give a little thanks to Bronson Alcott.

 

Activity

Have each person in the group write down something that they like about each person in the group, including themselves. Each comment should be on a separate piece of paper, and should include the person’s name. For instance,“I like how Kelson listens when I talk.” Or “I like how Mimi pays attention to kids who are littler than her.” Each person should write something they like about themselves in the third person and using their name, as with all other members of the group. (If you have more than seven or eight people you might need to break into two groups to keep the task from taking too long and being too overwhelming.) Each slip of paper should go in a hat or a bowl after it’s written. When all the slips are complete, the leader can read the comments aloud, passing the slips of paper to the person the comment is about after they are done reading it, so that everyone has positive comments to take home.

 

Game

If you have enough people and enough time, play “I Like People Who.”  Form a circle with one person in the middle. The person in the middle says: “I like people who…” and fills in the blank. For instance, “I like people who have brown hair” or “I like people who enjoy reading.” Anyone who fits that description has to get up and change places with another person who also fits the description, while the person in the middle tries to take one of their places. The last person standing goes in the middle.

 

Discussion

Does “affirming the inherent worth and dignity of every person” (valuing and respecting every person) mean that we have to like everyone? Does it mean that we support every decision that other people make? Does it mean we have to be nice to everyone?


 

Closing

Close with these words from Bronson Alcott:

“Thought means life, since those who do not think so do not live in any high or real sense. Thinking makes the [person].”

 


 

Week Four—October 28th

Halloween/Samhain/Day of the Dead

 

Supplies Needed: plain sugar cookies, preferably ghost-shaped; frosting (preferably more than one color), sprinkles, and other cake-decorating items; paper plates or napkins, plastic knives; wash basin or other very large container, water, (or string) apples, hair ties, towels

 

Opening Words and Chalice Lighting

 We are Unitarian Universalists (shape hands fingers up to form two “Us”)

This is the home of the open mind (touch fingers to forehead and open out)

This is the home of the flaming chalice that lights our way to truth. (cup hands thumbs out and hold up)

This is the home of the loving heart (fold hands over heart)

This is the home of the helping hands (hold hands out)

Together we care for our earth

And work for peace in our world. (join hands amongst the group)

 

Or, for older kids:

 

In the freedom of truth

and the love of justice

We bring all that we are

to shape what we yet can be.

 

Or

 

In the light of truth and the warmth of love,

We gather to seek and seek to share.

 

 

Check-in: You may wish to start this check-in time with the words “We are a family (or community). What touches one of us touches all of us, and so we take this time to listen to each person remember and share one thing from the past week that made a difference in their life – something that made them happy, or sad, or proud or sorry or grateful.

 

Centering:

Sing “Enter, Rejoice and Come In” #361 in Singing the Living Tradition

 

Enter, rejoice and come in,

Enter, rejoice and come in,

Today will be a joyful day,

Enter, rejoice and come in.

 

Verse 2: Open your ears to the song….

 

Verse 3: Open your hearts everyone….

 

Verse 4: Don’t be afraid of some change….

 

-- by Louise Ruspini

 

See here for the tune.

 

Introduction

All this month we’ve been talking about welcoming babies and respecting and valuing children, but our celebration this month is of a holiday that has more to do with death than with birth. What holiday comes at the end of October? (Halloween). The beginnings of the celebration of Halloween go back to much older holidays: the Christian All Hallow’s Eve, and before that the pagan holiday Samhain (pronounced Sow-in), and the native Mexican tradition of el Dia de los muertos, or Day of the Dead. The old traditions of this time of year (the end of October and the beginning of November) not only celebrate the end of the harvest, but also honor those who have died. Many even say that this is the time when the separation between the worlds of the living and the dead is at its thinnest. And so the Halloween tradition of ghosts wandering the streets trick or treating goes back to honoring the spirits of those who have died, and feeling them close to us.

 

Story

Francisco González of Mexico wrote down this story, as told to him by his father:

“While many people uphold the customs of their ancestors, there are always those who refuse to follow the older ways.  For instance, they refuse to believe that the souls of the departed return to visit during el Día de los Muertos.  They ignore that this is a special holiday, a time to clean up the family graves, cook traditional dishes, and prepare an ofrenda, an offering  for the returning souls.  Among the nonbelievers was Don Nicacio.  He lived in the pueblo of Chamilpa where he cut and sold firewood...Nicacio’s wife, María de Rosario, was more inclined to follow the traditions of her people.  When November came she tried in vain to convince Nicacio to prepare an ofrenda  for el Día de los Muertos.

“It doesn’t have to be grand.  Even a small ofrenda will be fine, my husband.  Just a few flowers, some candles, and a small offering of food.  This is a special time.  Have you forgotten Juanita?”

Nicacio shook his head.  “Our daughter died only two years ago.  How could I forget?”

“Then stay at home.  Don’t go to work.  Can’t you see that no one is working today?  Help me build the ofrenda.  Or at least give me some money to buy more food, flowers and candles.”

“Ay, María, you’re loca.  When we die, we die, and that’s it.  We don’t come back ever again.  All this about the ofrenda  is just a silly story.  You will have to get by with what we have.  I’m not giving you money for this superstition.”

Nicacio ignored María’s entreaties.  He thought only of the opportunity to make some extra money.  Grabbing his machete, he headed for a heavily wooded area at the base of the mountain to search for firewood.  The place was far, but he knew he would find the best wood there.  Following paths seldom traveled, Nicacio finally came upon a large, leafy oak tree that promised a good yield.

“I’ll get a good price for it.  Good oak is scarce these days, and no one else would venture this far from the pueblo for it.”

Since dusk was fast approaching, Nicacio lost no time in tying his machete around is waist and climbing the tree.  At the top he found a joint formed by two sturdy branches.  Leaning through the joint he went to work.  Up in the tree, the wind was cool and brisk, and the birds seemed to sing more loudly.  The bell of the small church in town chimed to announce the afternoon service.  Pausing to rest, Nicacio could see the pueblo of Chamilpa in the distance.  Suddenly, the two branches supporting Nicacio snapped closed, trapping him at the waist.  The woodsman struggled to free himself by wriggling and shoving.  Frustrated and fightened, he called for help.  But he knew that the chances of someone hearing him were very remote.

Hours passed and evening came.  Nicacio resigned himself to the futility of further struggle, and fell limp with exhaustion.  He recalled María pleading with him to stay home and give her money to buy flowers and candles for the ofrenda.  He thought of Juanita, so sweet and innocent, who would never enjoy her eighth birthday.

Nicacio sighed, “Why would the dead return when they suffered so much during life?  When I die, I don’t ever want to come back.”

Darkness brought a dampness that chilled the woodsman to his bones. The wind howled.  Again Nicacio heard the church bells, this time announcing the midnight rosary service for the dead.  As Nicacio glanced up, he noticed a lengthy procession heading in his direction. His heart quickened with the hope of rescue.

“When they’re close enough, I’ll yell.  One of them is bound to hear me.  I’m so tired and hungry...I can’t wait to get out of this tree.”

As they approached, he began to distinguish their features.  He saw that each one held a flickering candle, though some candles were so short they burned the fingers of the bearer.  Everyone seemed weary, their faces distorted as if by hunger or thirst.  Silently they walked with their morrales, their knapsacks, full of holes.  Some were barefoot.  Others wore sandals so shabby that their feet were barely protected.

“What a sad group of people.  They seem so miserable,” thought Nicacio.

As the procession passed under the tree, Nicacio began shouting, “Help me!  Hey you down there, help me!  I’m up in the tree!  Someone please  help me!”

But no one seemed to notice him.  The procession continued its slow journey toward Chamilpa.  What a long procession this was!  The line of people seemed never to end.

Nicacio’s eyes widened.  “There goes my compadre  Juan.  But it can’t be!  He died three years ago.  I attended his burial myself.  And here comes my friend Hilario, and Beto, the son of my comadre  Anastasia.  I must be hallucinating...these people are dead.  Juan!  Hilario!  Beto!  Can you hear me?  I’m up in the tree!  Help me get out!”

Nicacio shook his head, “My mind must  be playing tricks on me.”

Glancing down once more he saw his beloved daughter Juanita walking in the procession.  “Juanita, my sweet little one!”  Nicacio wept as he watched her silently pass, wearing a tattered dress, her face drawn with hunger.  On and on the procession continued into the pueblo.  Nicacio was consumed by anguished thoughts of his wife, his daughter and death. 

Hours passed, and dawn approached.  As Nicacio stirred, he saw the procession leaving Chamilpa, heading once again in his direction.  As the people drew near, Nicacio tried calling to them one more time, but again he was ignored.  Discouraged, he slumped down and wearily watched as the people passed.

“Everyone looks different now.  They seem more energetic.  Why, many are even smiling and talking to each other.”  Indeed, some wore new clothes, and their feet were covered with new sandals.  Their morrales  were filled with food.  Nicacio was happy to see the people so content.  “Why, my compadre  Juan has a bottle of tequila.  And Hilario is smoking one of his favorite cigarettes.  Oh, there’s Beto eating a tamale.  He always loved tamales!”

Nicacio eagerly looked for Juanita.  When he found her, she was smiling, too.  Nicacio waved wildly, but again the girl did not notice her father.  “It doesn’t matter that she can’t see me,” thought Nicacio.  “My beloved Juanita looks happy, and that’s the important thing.  She’s wearing a new dress and carrying a candle and a plate of beans.”

The procession passed and disappeared into the thick woods at the base of the mountain.  The sun rose, warming the chilled air.  Suddenly, the branches opened, and Nicacio was free.  He wasted no time scrambling down the tree, and he ran all the way home, eager to see María.

María, however, was not so happy to see Nicacio.  “I asked you to stay home and give me money for the ofrenda.  You not only left, but you stayed out all night long!  You probably got drunk and spent all the money.  Thank God I had just enough from my laundry earnings to buy a dress and a candle for Juanita’s ofrenda.  For food, all I could afford was a small plate of beans.”

Nicacio recalled seeing Juanita in her new dress, carrying the candle and the plate fo beans.  He wept with shame and asked María for forgiveness.  He told her what he had seen.  Both knelt and asked Juanita to forgive them their meager offering.  From that day on, Nicacio prepared an annual feast, brimming with food and candles, for Juanita and for all the dead of Chamilpa.”

 

Activity

We might not believe that the ghosts of the dead are out and about, even on Halloween or the Day of the Dead. But our ancestors, the relatives who came before us and the people and pets we have known who have died, are still a part of our lives. They live on in the ways we remember them, in the things we’ve learned from them, in the stories about them that we tell. Maybe someone you knew has died – a grandparent or great-grandparent, a pet, maybe even someone who wasn’t very old. Maybe you never knew someone who has now died, but you’ve heard stories about someone from your family who died before you were ever born. Maybe you just imagine what you great or great-great-grandparents were like, without even knowing anything about them.

 

Either way, we’re going to create our own special ofrenda by decorating (ghost-shaped) cookies in a way that reminds us of someone who is gone. As tempting as it may be, we’re not going to eat these cookies right away, so try to think of it as an art project and an honoring of someone who is gone, rather than a snack. (Distribute a cookie on a paper plate to each child and allow them to decorate. You may need to carefully monitor sprinkles and such carefully, so that they don’t all get dumped on one cookie.)

 

Discussion

Who are you choosing to honor? What do you remember about them? How would you like to be remembered? What would you like people to say about you?

 

Game (if you have time, resources, and don’t mind things getting wet)

Apples are a traditional food for Halloween and Samhain, since they are one of the last fruits of the season to be harvested. A traditional Halloween game is bobbing for apples. (Fill a large wash basin with water, and put several apples in it. Tie long hair back as necessary, and have one child at a time try to catch an apple by biting it. If you don’t want to deal with the water, you can use a vegetable peeler to core one apple per child, and tie a string through the inside of the apple. Dangle the apple from the string at about head height, and let the child try to grab the apple with their teeth.)

 

Closing

Sit in a circle with the decorated cookies in front of their creators. Give each child the chance to say who they thought of as they decorated the cookie, and one thing they remember about that person/pet. Either have children eat the cookies at this point or encourage them to keep the cookies to show and talk about.