Celebrating Blessings

Family Story: Happy Right Now by Julie Berry

Here’s a story that teaches that the best way to be happy is to embrace the circumstances we find ourselves in each day.

Engage in the following prompts for discussion after you’ve read the story:

  • What was your favorite part of the story?
  • Why do you think the author includes examples of tough times?
  • What can we learn from this story about celebrating blessings?
  • What are some of the ways you find your center during tough times?

Family Activites: Emotions Wheel and Game

Part of celebrating blessings during tough times is to be present to any and all emotions which you are feeling. Use this wheel and game to encourage talking about emotions and growing emotional intelligence. https://www.adventure-in-a-box.com/free-printable-mood-emotion-wheel-chart-for-children/

Family Movie: A Man Called Otto

Here’s a delightful movie about a grumpy old man and the blessings he brings into his neighbours’ lives. It’s based on a Swedish book by Fredrik Backman, “A Man Called Ove”. There was also a Swedish film based on the movie that was directed by Hannes Holm. This remake, starring Tom Hanks as Otto, tackles issues of senior depression, isolation, the toll that the very act of living a “normal” life takes on the body, and how to best care and support for our aging loved ones.

Nurturing Beauty

Family Story: The Big Orange Splot, by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

This month’s story is an example of someone using their power to create and bring beauty into the world, even when those around him were not in favor of it at first.

Engage in the following prompts for discussion after you’ve read the story:

  • What was your favorite part of the story?
  • Why do you think Mr. Plumbean waited till there was an orange splot on his house to change/paint it?
  • Why do you think the neighbors were upset that Mr. Plumbean painted his house?
  • What can we learn from this story about beauty?
  • What are some of the ways you create beauty?

Family Activities: Food Art

Food is often referred to as edible art. Try creating these beautiful cookies as a way to honor our power to bring beauty into the world and then give them as a gift for some who has “mothered” or shown you love.

Click here for the recipe for Heart-Shaped Jam Cookies

Family Movie: Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast is a story that encourages us to look beyond the superficial and to be compassionate, curious, humble, and generous — all of which means it gives families plenty to talk about. Here are some ideas of some conversations to engage in after watching the movie.

  • Even if you were expecting them, how did the movie’s scary scenes make you feel? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?
  • How do the characters demonstrate compassion, curiosity, humility, and empathy? Why are those important character strengths?
  • How does Belle compare with other Disney princesses? Is she curious? Do you consider her a role model?

What makes Gaston’s conceited, self-centered nature funny? Is he a caricature of the stereotypical leading man? Do your feelings about him change over the course of the story? Why?


Family Story: The Cracked Pot, author unknown

 This month’s story is a wisdom tale about a cracked pot. It is a beautiful story about how all things are connected even if they don’t realize it.

After watching the video, use these questions to reflect on the story:

  • What do you think this story/video teaches us?
  • Have you ever made something happen without realizing it?
  • What are some of the things that you do that affect the Earth?
  • Has nature ever made you feel better or happy? 
  • What is your favorite way to spend time in nature?

Family Activity: Easter Egg Birdseed Ornaments

Here’s a great family activity that you can do to wake up to ways of protecting our Earth by making crafts that focus on reusability and highlight the “reduce, reuse, recycle” motto.

Family Movie: The Matrix

The Matrix is the illusion that we live in … the conditioned patterns that keep us from experiencing our true nature. Based on ancient Vedic teachings “The Matrix” is vedanta for the modern world.

Renewing Faith

Family Story: The Golden Rule by Ilene Cooper and Gabi Swiatkowska

A boy and his grandfather discuss the Golden Rule. Simple words yet not simple to apply. The Golden Rule is an example of a promise or a covenant that faiths ask people to make.

After reading the book, take time to have a family conversation. Here are some questions to consider talking about.

  • Do you remember what religions had a version of the golden rule?
  • Do Unitarian Universalists have a version of the golden rule?
    • (Inherent Worth and dignity of every person/ All people are important.)
  • Do you find it easy or hard to follow the Golden Rule?
  • Is there anything wrong with the golden rule?
    • Example: What if I love to be tickled and my sibling does not.  Is it ok to tickle my sibling?

Family Activities: Hand Art Poster

Invite those who you consider to be in your family to dinner. After dinner, invite everyone to trace their hands and write or draw your promise(s) to each other on it. When everyone has done this, put all the hands together to make a poster to show the promises you make to one another. You’re invited to keep this poster visible in a place where everyone can see it. You can make colour copies to send home with others if they don’t live with you.

Family Movie: Up

Up centers on Carl, an elderly widower who travels to South America with wilderness explorer Russell so that he can fulfill a promise made to his late wife Ellie. Along the way, they meet a talking dog named Dug and encounter a giant bird named Kevin, who is being hunted by the explorer Charles Muntz, whom Carl had idolized in childhood.

Widening the Circle

Family Story: Viola Desmond Won’t be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner, Illustrations by Richard Rudnicki

In 1946 when Viola Desmond was told that she had to move her seat from the main floor to the balcony because of her race, she refused to move to the upstairs area. The police took her to jail and fined her, but her actions inspired others.

After reading the book, take time to have a family conversation about what you would do if you were in the movie theatre when this took place.

Family Activities

Learn About Black UUs

Black Lives of UU’s teach-in resources include stories of four Unitarians and Universalists born in the 19th century who lived into the 20th: Lewis McGee, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Fannie Barrier Williams, and Annie B. Jordan Willis. With each story are questions and activities to further connect with these figures and what their achievements mean for us today.

Family Movie: CoCo

Coco‘s rich visual pleasures are matched by a thoughtful narrative that takes a family-friendly — and deeply affecting — approach to questions of culture, family, life, and death.

Living With Intention

Family Story: Beautiful Oops by Barney Salzburg

“Here’s a story about making mistakes. If we learn from our mistakes, we can sometimes make something beautiful instead.  Here we go.”

Even though this book is for young children, all ages have learned from it. Here’s a video of the book with song:

After reading the book, take time to reflect on these questions.

  • What part of the story do you remember the most?
  • What did you like about the story?
  • What didn’t you like about the story?
  • What do you think this story teaches us?
  • Have you ever made a mistake but were able to learn from it or even make something more beautiful? 

Family Activities

A Mistakes Ritual

What do you do when you make mistakes and want to make up? Many faiths have a ritual. UU’s don’t – YET. Create one because we all make mistakes and need a way to return to our intentions. What can the group create? Use these steps as a general guideline and invite the group to come up with their own ritual.

A mistake hurts and reminds us we are failing. How do we return to our intentions?

●        Opening words. Tell the story about the mistake.

●        Meditation. Imagine what it would be like if it got better.

●        Action Plan. Make a plan. Do something to help make it better.

●        Express Gratitude. Song, poem, art. Give thanks and gratitude for what you do have.

●        Music. Set aside anger to be free from its poison.

●        Celebrate a return to Intention. Permission to heal.

A Path of Intention

Use permanent markers to decorate and write the following words on smooth rocks. The words are from Samuel Beckett’s Worstward Ho –

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Go outside and create a path outlined with the inscribed rocks. Make a path with the rocks somewhere your family regularly walks to remind you to keep trying to fulfill their intentions. Invite people to walk the Path of Intention when things get tough.

Family Movie: Hairspray

Pleasantly plump teenager Tracy Turnblad teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about integration after landing a spot on a local TV dance show.

Opening to Joy

Family Story: The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

Read aloud by Michelle and Barack Obama

This story is a great way to explore how sharing and being generous creates more joy in the world and for ourselves.  Jerome loves collecting all kinds of words. It makes him happy. But we also learn that what makes him even happier is taking the words he collects and sharing them with others. 

After reading the book, take time to reflect on these questions.

  • What was your favorite part of the story?
  • How did you feel when he started writing poetry with his words?
  • What awesome words would you collect? 
  • What things have you collected?
  • Have you ever given away your collection to other children? Or have you thought about what it would be like to share it with others? 
  • Do you feel happy and joyful when people share things with you? Why do you think receiving gifts and generosity makes us feel so happy? 

Family Activity

Create Paper Crane, Dove and Chalice Snowflakes for others

Gather as a family to make paper cranes, doves and/or Chalice snowflakes for a shut-in or someone who is missing family at this season. Write wishes and greetings on the snowflakes, cranes, and doves.

Make an Origami Crane (This is an intermediate origami craft and will be too hard for most children under 8.)

For children who need an easier option: Dove Crafts


Fold Chalice Snowflakes (from the UUA Worship Web)


Family Movie: Inside Out

After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school.

Holding History

Family Story: Granddad’s Prayers of the Earth by Douglas Wood

A great way to explore the importance of death and love is by sharing this book. And guess what? It’s about prayers and how prayers can help with death and love! Does everyone know what a prayer is? People do it a lot of different ways but a good way to think about it is… [maybe something like expressing your hopes to the universe or to God.]

In this story, a boy and his grandfather reflect on prayers. And as they do, they tell us that one of the ways we hold on to history is by remembering the ones we love in prayers. By remembering that love, the world can seem right again. After reading the book, take time to reflect on the following questions.

  • Have you ever thought of what a prayer is? What do you think prayer is?
  • If you were walking in the woods, what would you pick up and put in your pocket?
  • What did you think about the conversation between Grandad and his grandson about prayer?
  • Have you ever lost someone or a pet and felt empty like the boy?
  • Some people say that they can hear the voices of their loved ones whom they have lost. Can you share a time when it seemed like your loved one, person or pet, was speaking to you?

Family Activity

Rock Crafts – In the book, the boy picks up a rock and puts it in his pocket. Invite the children to collect river rocks and other rocks then glue them with a glue gun to form a cairn to place in a special place or paint the rocks to act as markers.

Family Movie

Now that it’s come back into the movie theatres, it might be time to go and watch Avatar again! A paralyzed Marine becomes mobile again using an avatar. It’s here that he falls in love with a Na’vi woman and becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world that he is learning is his own.

Cultivating Relationship

Family Story: Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Letitch Smith

This story is a great way to explore how listening builds relationships. It’s a story about a group of people who use special sounds to listen to and help people heal. These people are Indigenous [Native American] Women, who are Jingle Dancers. They are using this special tradition of theirs to help the world heal the fear caused by the pandemic. The Jingle Dancers story also shows how important it is to not just ask people to help you but also listen carefully when they can’t give you exactly what you’re asking for. In the book, Jenna, the main character, respectfully and clearly communicates her need to her four female relatives for the tins to make the jingles. They, in turn, communicate clearly, their own needs, hopes, and wants.

After reading the story, take some time to talk with your child using one, or several of these prompts.

  • What was your favorite part of the story?
  • How did you feel when Jenna got to complete the four rows on her dress?
  • Do you know about any traditions from Native Americans in your area? 
  • When did an adult (family, friend, or neighbor) help you with a project?
  • When Jenna asks the women in her life for help, she also listens to them when they ask her to dance for them. When you ask someone for something, do think it’s a good idea to also ask them if you can do something for them in return?  
  • When have you asked for what you need so that others can listen and understand?
  • Is it sometimes scary to ask others for something you need?

Special Note: Jingle Dancers are bringing their tradition to help the world heal the fear during the pandemic. The dresses, also known as Prayer Dresses, mimic the sound of falling rain and bring a sense of peace. Here’s a site that explores the history of the Jingle Dress: https://www.ncai.org/news/articles/2020/08/12/the-history-of-the-jingle-dress-dance

Here’s a video that talks about the healing power of the jingle dress to the land:

Here’s an additional video as well where jingle dancers talk share their love of jingle dancing:

Family Activity

Remember playing Simon Says as a child? Turns out it’s a great game for teaching listening skills! To refresh your memory on how the game is played, one person is designated as the leader and calls out the actions. Everyone else must follow the leader and do the action, but only when Simon says. For example, Simon says, touch your toes. Everyone must touch their toes.

Then the leader has to try and get everyone to do an action without saying Simon says. If someone does the action and the leader did not say Simon says, that person is out of the game. For example, if the leader says just “touch your toes” and someone touches their toes, they are out of the game.

The leader can try to make things more difficult by speeding up the pace of calling out the actions. Here’s a chart to get you started!

Family Movie

Now that the nights are getting longer, it’s easy to want to curl up with a good movie. How about drawing loved ones close on a weekend evening to watch Brave! We get to follow along with Merida, a feisty girl who does not like to take orders. This gets her into trouble with her mom and their relationship is put to the test.

This movie lets children know that while you may fight with your parents or other loved ones at times, family is very important, and having the ability to listen to each other is all it takes. Also, this movie teaches children that there is nothing wrong with not conforming to gendered beliefs and activities and that there is nothing wrong with being independent.

Embracing Possibility

Family Story: Rou & the Great Race by Pam Fong

In a time when a flower is so rare that it is the grand prize of an annual race, Rou’s only wish is to win for her grandma, who is haunted by memories of when flowers were once abundant. But sometimes the real prize is not what’s offered by others, but what we make for ourselves.” – Amazon

In this science fiction picture book for children, Rou notices the possibilities of the trampled plant. She and her grandmother grow it into many flowers. Sometimes it takes a bit of looking before we notice the hidden possibilities in life.

Family Activity

Create flowers out of paper! Gather as a family and keep trying! You’ll find that new possibilities will reveal themselves. There’s more than one way to create the flowers, more than one way to look at a problem. Here’s a couple of sites to spark the imagination!

Lily Handprint Flower

Tissue Paper Flowers

Family Movie: The Greatest Showman (2017)

This family-friendly musical is sure to keep everyone entertained! Hugh Jackman plays P.T. Barnum, a prominent Universalist who was the most influential American showman of the nineteenth century. This film follows his rise into showbiz and worldwide fame. (Available on Disney+)