Sometimes, grandma’s need cheat sheets. This is especially likely near Sabbats like Lammas. Without a major cultural holiday happening around the same time (such as Samhain/Halloween), it’s one that relatives may be unaware of.
In my family, we’ve asked the grandparents to please give gifts to the kids according to our family holidays, not according to the Christian calendar of the grandparents, if they want to give gifts to the grandkids (my kids). This is mainly a concern around big gift giving times, like December. Holidays teach, after all – and as parents, it’s part of our responsibility to decide what is being taught. We’d like them to get exposure to our fact based worldview and the meaning behind our holidays, as well as holidays that are celebrated by most of our society (which they get overwhelming exposure to from every possible other avenue anyway – school, internet, radio, television, friends, etc). We’ve been very fortunate that all of the grandparents (our parents) have honored this – I know that there is enough anti-Pagan bigotry (and assumptions of Christian Privilege) out there to make many grandparents get mad, or worse. There are plenty of times in other families were grandparents told the kids standard anti-Pagan lines in secret, like “you have to be a Christian to be a good person”, or “mommy and daddy will burn in Hell for not being Christian”, and many others that many of us have heard from those close to us.
Even if a parent or relative is on board with your plan for your kids, they could be unsure of how to support your plan. While our eight holidays of The Wheel of the Year are second nature to many of us, they can be confusing to non-Pagans, new Pagans, and even many of us who have been Pagan for years. Here, phone calls a month after a holiday often started with something like “um…. I’ve got chocolate bunnies & eggs here for the kids. When is … .. ah.. Esther? Is it coming up?”. I deeply appreciated the effort, and realized I was not doing everything I could do to make a potentially emotionally difficult act of love as easy as possible. I had written out a list, but scraps of paper get lost over the years. So when this happened again, and grandma asked for a list of the holidays, I made a nice summary and provided several laminated copies. It’s the image at the top of this post. She shouldn’t have had to ask, and I hope I remember to check every few years to see if she needs a replacement copy.
I’m sure that there are family differences – your Sabbats are probably not exactly the same as ours. And of course the relationship to each of the popular holidays (like, say, Groundhog’s Day) is much more complicated than this – but this isn’t a comprehensive dissertation, it’s just a short “cheat sheet” for grandma. Feel free to print out your own copy if you have a similar situation. If you have a relative or friend who wants more detailed explanation, here is one, and others can be found with some googling.
Starstuff, Contemplating by Jon Cleland Host
We are assemblages of ancient atoms forged in stars – atoms organized by history to the point of consciousness, now able to contemplate this sacred Universe of which we are a tiny, but wondrous, part.
Dr. Jon Cleland Host is a scientist who earned his PhD in materials science at Northwestern University & has conducted research at Hemlock Semiconductor and Dow Corning since 1997. He holds eight patents and has authored over three dozen internal scientific papers and eleven papers for peer-reviewed scientific journals, including the journal Nature. He has taught classes on biology, math, chemistry, physics and general science at Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University. Jon grew up near Pontiac, and has been building a reality-based spirituality for over 30 years, first as a Catholic and now as a Unitarian Universalist, including collaborating with Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow to spread the awe and wonder of the Great Story of our Universe (see www.thegreatstory.org, and the blog at evolutionarytimes.org). Jon and his wife have four sons, whom they embrace within a Universe-centered, Pagan, family spirituality. He currently moderates the yahoo group Naturalistic Paganism.
Heather is a parent and a scientist raising her four children to explore the world through scientific understanding and with spiritual appreciation of the Universe. She has a Master of Science degree in Physics from Michigan State University, a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of the Arts degree in English Literature, also from the University of Michigan. She teaches physics as an adjunct instructor at Delta College, runs the Math Mania program at a local elementary school, has worked at Dow Corning as an engineer and at NASA as an intern, and she has led science outreach workshops for K-12 students through joint programs between NASA and the University of Michigan. She is a naturalistic non-theist, whose faith has been shaped by her childhood within the Episcopal Church, her adult membership in the Unitarian Universalist church, and through Buddhist meditation. She has a passion for bringing science and spirituality to everyone in a fun way, both for her own family and for the wider community of the Earth. She is a co-author with Jon Cleland-Host of Elemental Birthdays: How to Bring Science into Every Party.