Love is, above all, the gift of oneself. — Jean Anouilh, French dramatist
IN TODAY'S SESSION... we focused on the second Unitarian Universalist Source, "Words and deeds of prophetic people which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love," expressed in children's language as "people of long ago and today whose lives remind us to be kind and fair." The story, "Give Love," tells of a Christmas when Ellen told her father, Unitarian minister and author Ralph Waldo Emerson, a riddle to help him guess the gift she wanted from him: You cannot buy it, for it is worth all the money you have, but only you can give it. Emerson solved the riddle: His daughter wanted the gift of his time. Later in his life, Emerson wrote about the importance of giving time. The children gave their own time today by visiting with younger children in the congregation.
EXPLORE THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Is there a family member or a family friend who might especially appreciate the gift of your time? Brainstorm ways your family can spend time together without spending a lot of money, such as planting a garden, going for a walk, reading books, playing a game, going to a playground, and cooking something together.
EXTEND THE TOPIC TOGETHER. Create a "Give Love" family scrapbook of special time you spend together. Involve older relatives, special friends, uncles, and aunts in scrapbook-making, as a way for multiple generations to spend and celebrate quality time together. Interview each member of your family and special friends to capture their recollections of times when someone gave them the gift of time; include their reflections in your scrapbook.
Family Adventure. Schedule time with your child to do something they love to do which does not cost money. Follow their lead on an adventure in the mud, in the woods, in the gym. Be nonjudgmental and open so you can give your time and join them in their interests.
Family Discovery. Many books offer ideas for spending time together with your children, such as the Williamson Kids Can! series. Living Simply with Children: A Voluntary Simplicity Guide for Moms, Dads and Kids Who Want to Reclaim the Bliss of Childhood and the Joy of Parenting by Marie Sherlock gives advice on how to slow down and enjoy quality time together with your children.
To learn more about Transcendentalism, read the picture books Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, Henry Works, Henry Builds a Cabin, and Henry Climbs a Mountain by D.B. Johnson. A bear named Henry represents the lifestyle adopted by Emerson's contemporary, Unitarian Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau.
A Family Game. Teach your child how to play your favorite game from your childhood. Ask them to teach you their favorite game as well. Play the games together.
A Family Ritual. Start a holiday or birthday tradition of giving one another the gift of time. Have each person create "time coupons" to give others. They might specify an activity to share together, or entitle the recipient to a half-hour of the donor's time to be spent as the recipient wishes.