Spread Kindness and Explore World Cultures Through Holiday Baking

Spread Kindness and Explore World Cultures Through Holiday Baking

‘Tis becoming to season to pay special attention to spreading kindness to those around us! Families can spread kindness by sharing homemade foods with neighbors, and can expand this activity to include studies of world cultures by baking foods enjoyed internationally!

While kindness should be spread all year long, the approaching holiday season presents an opportunity to share kindness more than ever! One way to accomplish this goal is by sharing food, which not only spreads kindness throughout your community but promotes non-commercial celebrations of the holidays and provides families with opportunities for hands-on learning about foods in cultures around the world.

Folks aiming to spread kindness in the form of homemade edibles can certainly choose any easily shared foods, but the best foods for sharing (and easiest to store and transport) are baked goods. In order to make the experience of kindness-sharing truly interdisciplinary, experiment with unfamiliar recipes whose origins lie in foreign cultures. Rather than whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, peruse the pages of an international baking or cookbook for recipes whose roots lie in another part of the world.   Read the rest of this entry »

In Appreciation: 3 Ways to Practice Kindness and Teach Gratitude During the Holidays

Three Ways to Teach Gratitude in Time with the Season

With the many weekends of harvest festivals winding down and Thanksgiving right around the corner, the air is thick with the pumpkin spice aroma of, well, everything, and it is hard to miss that another season of thanks is upon us. While every day is an opportunity to be grateful, with children I find this season in particular can offer some prime opportunities to practice gratitude in unique ways. For my family, there are a few variations on familiar themes of gratitude that I have found work to teach both gratitude and interconnectedness, the latter of which helps teach how far our circles of gratitude really can reach.

This first practice is one I only recently learned (with many thanks to my mother-in-law, who introduced it to us during a recent visit). During her trip, I had finally got my Pinterest-deficient self in gear and had purchased some orange and black construction paper so the kids could make festive paper chains to string up in the house as decorations. As they worked on this project with my mother-in-law, she introduced a lovely idea that will heretofore become a ritual in our house. On each strip of cardboard, before you glue it in a ring and add it to the chain, you write something you are grateful for on it.  Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: How Bugs Can Teach Toddlers Kindness & Tolerance

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Bugs of Summer

Toddlers love bugs and insects or they are terrified of them! Either way the curiosity that bugs and insects evoke in young children is endless. I am a true believer that a child that is exposed to the natural world around will have a heightened respect and a deep regard for that world. Insect’s can be scary, they are foreign, and they don’t speak, ride bikes, or eat crackers. They come in thousands of shapes and sizes. Some are safe to touch and some are not. Some are a nuisance and some are allies. How can we teach our toddlers to be kind and safe around bugs and set aside our own deep-seated opinions on bugs? How can we show them the world wouldn’t be the same without bugs? A great book for this is the 1967 classic  Be Nice to Spiders by Margret Bloy Graham. This books looks at a zoo over run with flies without the help of spiders. It is a fun read and a great topic of discussion.  Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Art Abandonment Supports Acts of Kindness Through Creative-Free Play

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Abandoned Art

Recently my brother got into painting rocks and leaving them for strangers to find. Art abandonment he calls it. I hadn’t heard of it, but now that I have, I thought this is a perfect way for a toddler to spread love, gain empathy and become more generous.  Not to mention a great way to brighten up the landscapes around town.

Toddlers have very little sense that they do not own the world; that every does NOT belong to them. Preschoolers are relinquishing this concept, but it’s never too early to start giving.  The concept is simple; paint rocks and leave them in areas where you know members of your child’s community can find them.  You can attach a little note or write on the back:

  • “You found free art, share it”
  • “Love is colorful”
  • “Generosity is learned”
  • “Share”
  • “Spread art, spread joy”

Or just put them out there as is. My brother chooses the dot pointillism approach. This is a great technique for the older toddler or preschooler to learn. By adding a single-color at a time in the form of a single dot can help a child experience art with extreme intention. They can focus on one color or a series of colors.

One child will group like colors together and others may create an image from multiple colors.  Some may choose to paint the rocks a solid color and that’s fine. You don’t have to restrict your child into a particular technique, instead encourage them to be as creative as they would like. Offer several different colors of paint and a bunch of different shape and size of rocks.

Read the rest of this entry »

Building Community One Poem at a Time!

Spread Poetry and Build Community with Poem in Your Pocket Day

Celebrated annually as part of National Poetry Month, Poem in Your Pocket Day encourages people to share writing and connect with others by spreading poems throughout their communities. Celebrated by literally carrying poems in pockets or by sharing words through more creative means, the event presents a unique opportunity to share important writing and to connect with others through the thoughts and feelings that great writing can provoke.

In Barbara Cooney’s book Miss Rumphius, the woman lovingly know as the Lupine Lady spreads beauty throughout her community by keeping a pocketful of seeds to distribute – so as to share the joy of nature’s treasures. During National Poetry Month, families can apply the Lupine Lady’s philosophy of life to the written word by participating in Poem in Your Pocket Day.

Begun in New York City in 2002, Poem in Your Pocket Day encourages folks of all ages to celebrate the power of the written word by sharing poetry with others. Participation is fairly easy and is exactly what the name implies – carry a meaningful poem in your pocket, and share it with those around you! However, in order to have as large of an impact as possible, families can employ some creative strategies in order to sow the seed of their chosen words far and wide. Thanks to digital media, poems can be taken from the depths of pockets and shared via e-mail and social networking sites.  Read the rest of this entry »

Setting Intentions for a Mindful New Year

Pursuing Mindfulness in 2016

With the simultaneous and instantaneous beginning and end marking the shift between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day comes an almost equally sudden desire for change. Along with the start of a new year come all of our best intentions for our selves, our treatment of others, and our footprint in our community and our world. In order to accomplish all that we’d like to, or even all that we can, during the new year, it is perhaps more important to connect with ourselves before we attempt to change ourselves – exploring the shape and structure of our foundation before we build upon it.

With the importance of connecting with our inner self in mind, we set our intentions for the new year: to discover mindfulness. Following on the heels of 2014’s resolution to appreciate daily moments  and 2015’s goal of sharing acts of kindness, our 2016 resolution is to pursue mindfulness and connect with our true sense of our selves. While the resolutions of previous years drew us further outside of ourselves in our efforts to create positive change in the world around us, this year’s resolution draws us back in, encouraging us to focus on ourselves in order to support our continued pursuit of the ability to have a positive impact on our communities and our world.  Read the rest of this entry »

Boxing Day: Extending Festive Generosity

Boxing Day: A Day of Gratitude

Drawing inspiration from the holiday’s roots, use the day after Christmas to show some appreciation for those in service positions who you see regularly. Kids can make thank you cards for the workers who stock shelves and bag your groceries at the local co-op, bake and deliver cookies to the farmers at a local CSA, or make prayer flags covered with messages of thanks and gratitude for the doctors and nurses working at a local community health center.

Boxing Day, St. Stephen’s Day, Day of the Wren, Second Christmas Day, Day of Goodwill – known by many names in countries around the world, December 26th brings a second day of celebration. Following the traditional Christmas Day, the holiday most commonly known as Boxing Day is a bank holiday – a day when banks and other similar service-based industries are closed, allowing workers an extra day off. Though the holiday has evolved over time, its roots are quite similar to its modern manifestation. Boxing Day gets its name from the practice of giving Christmas boxes filled with food and gifts to servants and tradesmen – something that took place after the members of the upper class had enjoyed a day filled with celebrations (during which many of the service workers hadn’t had a day off)…

Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Making Words a Gift

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Making Words a Gift

Every month we take preschoolers to the Calvin Coolidge Nursing Home to visits whom we call, the Grandmas and the Grandpas. We have been doing this for a few years now and it wasn’t until recently that I realized how impacting it is on both generations.  It wasn’t until one of them put a call in on a banana to one of the Grandmas and told her he was coming soon and he missed her. He missed her and this is the way a 3-year-old says he cares. He missed her and he was thinking about her. What could be better than that?

The visit itself to the nursing home is an amazing gift for both the children and the residents there. The children are the center of attention (which they love), laughter fills the room and the residents are happy and engaged. Often they reminisce about the past and their children, whom are grown and grandparents themselves. They gently sweep the faces of the children and they both smile. A priceless gift!

Here are a couple of gifts that integrate creative-free play with thoughtful ways children can reciprocate their love and caring of the elders in their life… Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: The Deep End vs. In Over Your Head

Going Deep

Do you let your kids quit? Do you let yourself quit? In this month’s “Off the Mat: Reflections on the Practice of Parenting,” Ginny Hamilton explores the difference between being comfortable in the deep end and being in over your head.

Today, I quit. I’m not big on quitting. But I am proud of myself in a way. Hear me out.

In September, my son started swim lessons. Despite our best intentions for fun, exercise, and life skills, it quickly became a dreary slog. Timing is everything, and Fridays after school isn’t his best time. Even so, I refuse to let him consider quitting until he can swim in water over his head.

Last week, when offered a Monday lesson slot, we switched without hesitation. Suddenly, swimming was fun again! He cut through the water, head down, crawl strong, buoyed by success. Read the rest of this entry »

Our Growing Roots: Connecting Across Generations Through Food Traditions

A Holiday Reflection

This holiday, start a new tradition… dig out your old recipe cards, and host a Holiday Food Share, where family members and friends cook a recipe that’s most meaningful to them, while sharing a memory of what makes it so special. What a great opportunity to bake that casserole your great aunt was known for, and to share stories rich in history and nostalgia.

The inspiration for this month’s column came a few weeks ago when my grandmother surprised me at work with a fresh batch of her homemade applesauce. Coincidentally, I had forgotten to bring breakfast that day so you can imagine my delight! As I sat at my desk and enjoyed this unexpected treat, and all of the love and labor she put into it, I felt a heart swell of emotion. I imagined her in the kitchen, peeling each apple by hand, slicing, cooking, stirring, cooling…just to give it away to the people she loves. She bakes pies for the holidays, and surprises us with stuffed cabbage because she knows it’s our favorite.  Read the rest of this entry »

Fostering Service Dogs: Service-Based Learning for Animal Lovers!

Fostering Service Dogs: Service-Based Learning for Animal Lovers!

Helping to provide much needed support for humans, service dogs are truly some of man’s best friends. Local families can engage in service-based learning by fostering future service dogs, giving them a loving home while helping to support their training. Information sessions are held weekly for interested local families!

We’ve touted the benefits of engaging in service-based learning by fostering pets from a local shelter – families get to enjoy the benefits of having pets at home through a short-term commitment, and can engage in meaningful learning about the value of their service while caring for animals in need. Now, there’s another way to engage in service-based learning with animals: fostering service-dogs-in-training! Requiring a longer commitment than fostering shelter animals, helping to raise a future service dog not only helps the dog, but will help a human in need as well! Service dogs, once trained, offer a canine lifetime’s worth of help and support to humans with a wide variety of unique needs – and local foster families are in high demand! Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Giving Back This Holiday Season

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Making Giving about Giving

Recycle brown paper bags into “donation bags” this holiday season and join a local family friendly effort to bring kindness and giving to the holiday season!

This is the time of year to think about not just our families but also for our community. Living in such a small valley makes it easy to make connections that are meaningful and valuable. One easy activity that will help your children understand the value of giving and gratitude are donation bags!

At my daycare we have teamed up with Lindsay Fogg-Willits, owner of Art Always in Florence, and came up with this awesome easy activity. Giving helps us all feel fulfilled in so many ways; it helps establish the means for empathy are caring, besides it just feels good.  Read the rest of this entry »

7 Community Thanksgiving Meals & Volunteer Opportunities in Western MA

Thanksgiving Community Meals Promote Community Engagement Through Service-Based Learning

Taking place across western Massachusetts, community meals held around Thanksgiving offer opportunities for communities to connect through food and for families to give back to their communities. Families can donate food (like homemade pies made with your kids!), volunteer at events, or attend community meals in order to help build community!

Healthy living begins not with healthy food, but with access to food in general. For many families in western Massachusetts, access to food is made possible by community organizations that run food pantries and serve meals. These organizations – vital to our communities – depend on community support, and rely on donations and volunteers in order to provide the essential services that they offer. This Thanksgiving, families can participate in community service and spread kindness by helping out with a holiday community meal. Community Thanksgiving meals help to offer a holiday celebration to those who may not be able to prepare one on their own or who might not have anyone to share Thanksgiving dinner with, and also offer families an opportunity to engage in an intergenerational holiday celebration with a diverse group of people.  Read the rest of this entry »

Our Growing Roots: Food Gifts and Giving Make Real Connections

The Spirit of Giving

When I think of everything a holiday should be, Thanksgiving has all the bases covered. There are few joys greater than the smell of a home cooked meal, and the warmth of family and friends gathered around the table to enjoy it. This holiday isn’t about wish lists or battling long lines and huge crowds in search of the perfect gift. In fact, Thanksgiving gives us the unique opportunity to give something greater – the gifts of time, presence, laughter, and love.


Each year around this time, we begin to reflect on how we might celebrate the spirit of giving beyond just our family table. This usually includes neighbors, teachers, and even the larger community. This year, we picked up a few mini loaf pans that we plan to fill with banana and pumpkin breads before handing them out to a few of our neighbors. The kids also decided they were going to create hand-written tags, naming something about the recipient that they were most thankful for. These notes will say thank you to the teenagers who smile and wave each time my children shout hello to them out the window, to the neighbor who brings our trash barrels in from the street each week while we are at work, and to the surrogate grandmother next door who never forgets their birthdays.   Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Mat: Higher Priorities

Priorities

Visiting extended family of my parents’ generation, I’m aware of how little we’ve focused on manners thus far in my kiddo’s life. He still eats with his fingers, comments on people’s appearance in a matter of fact way, and asks how old they are, assuming everyone is as proud of their years attained as he is at 6 and a half.

The age question catches our hostess up short. Sorry, I say, we haven’t put much focus on manners beyond please and thank you.

What do you focus on? she replies.

And I’m stumped, realizing I can’t articulate it.

♦♦♦♦

Given that “why?” remains my child’s favorite word (followed closely by “poopy”), I’m regularly prompted to explain the logical reasoning behind various social norms. Take table manners, for instance. Napkins in laps protect pants from spills. Elbows are less likely to knock over milk glasses, again, if they are off the table. Talking with your mouth full is a choking hazard, besides just being gross to look at. These are concrete reasons to practice politeness.

But what about my higher priorities? What about honesty? Kindness? These require a greater appeal than logic. Honesty involves owning up to our faults, foibles, and imperfections. Kindness grows from compassion and acceptance that run counter to the mainstream in which we swim. I was taught how to be polite, not how to be kind.  Read the rest of this entry »

Dance for Kindness! Join in on the 4th Annual Dance for Kindness Flashmob

Cultivate a Culture of Kindness by Dancing!

Celebrated annually on November 15th, World Kindness Day was created through a partnership called the World Kindness Movement to highlight and promote the role of kindness in cultures and communities all over the globe. While there are many ways – big and small – to celebrate the day and spread kindness, perhaps the most visible way to promote this year’s World Kindness Day is by dancing!

Taking place in 80 different cities in 32 countries, and encompassing a group of dancers that’s over 10,000 strong, Dance for Kindness promotes World Kindness Day (as well as a year-round commitment to spreading kindness) with an exciting freezemob and flashmob event! Held on Sunday, November 8th, Dance for Kindness brings together kindness-committmed dancers all around the world to engage in the same choreographed dance in order to raise awareness for their compassionate cause and to encourage others to do the same. The flashmob dance not only draws attention, but highlights acts of kindness through carefully planned poses.

Want to join the movement? A local installment of Dance for Kindness will take place in Northampton on Sunday, November 8th! Read the rest of this entry »

Let Them Grow: Making Halloween a Thanksgiving

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Making Halloween a Thanksgiving

This Halloween, kids can give back when receiving candy from their neighbors. Here are 4 easy handmade crafts kids can make before Halloween night to carry with them and to give back to neighbors.

It is Halloween, a time of year everyone dresses up! Young children especially love this time of year! For them, this their costumes and love for pretend play, it’s Halloween all year round. Finally everyone is playing along!

It is also a puzzling time for toddlers and preschoolers. When toddlers go door to door during Halloween it is exciting and mysterious. They knock on strangers’ doors and get candy for being brave, dressing up, and playing along. A fun way to make the whole experience more engaging and reciprocal is to give back to those neighbors, to the community, to the generous people behind the candy.

Here are a few easy crafts that you can carry along with your children the night of Halloween.  Invite them to exchange their handmade craft with their neighbors giving out candy, strengthening community connections and allowing your kids to give back.  Read the rest of this entry »

Acts of Kindness: Adopt a Black Cat!

Defy Superstition and Practice Kindness: Adopt a Black Cat!

According to Puritan superstition, black cats carry with them demons and sorcery. The notoriety black cats have gained through this superstition has landed their silhouette on many a Halloween decoration, but otherwise, it hasn’t worked out well for them. And according to the superstitions of other cultures, black cats actually bring much more good than harm! Scottish folklore tells of black cats bringing prosperity to homes they visit, and British and Japanese folks are quite fond of black cats as well!

Statistically speaking, black cats and kittens don’t fare well at shelters. Rather than bringing bad luck, they actually tend to have some bad luck of their own and are the least adopted cats in US shelters year-round. There’s no definitive reason for why this is, but animal rescue organizations believe a combination of superstition, dark kennels, and the brightly colored coats of other cats could all be partially to blame.

This Halloween season, practice kindness by adopting a black cat from a local shelter! Families who are considering adding a new furry friend to their household should consider seeking out a black cat – they’ll offer all of the snuggles and playtime that come with cats of any other color, and you’ll be ensuring that they don’t spend excess time in a shelter waiting for a family or, even worse, euthanized.  Read the rest of this entry »

Westfield State Students Dominate Shoe Drive

Westfield State students collect shoes to help in fight against global poverty

Attention anyone with a closet:  Those shoes you no longer want are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.  That’s the message  delivered by Westfield State student and Circle K member Rebecca Talamini ’15, who organized a Soles4Souls shoe drive and collected over 880 pairs of shoes to help the poor, and 35 single shoes to donate to amputees!

Circle K Club, a Kiwanis-affiliated organization of university students, placed donation boxes around campus, at Paper Mill Elementary School (with help from the K-Kids Club), and at South Middle School. South Middle School’s drive, led by Dianna Stutzhuk, Shaunessey Lambert, and Elise Urbanski, collected 200 pairs for Soles4Souls.  Read the rest of this entry »

Making A List of Kindness for 2015

Being a Catalyst of New Year Kindness in Your Community

For the new year, make a family commitment to spreading kindness throughout your community! Rather than creating resolutions for self-transformation based on perceived flaws, celebrate your skills and share your love for those around you by engaging in acts of kindness all year long. It’s a powerful project!

At the start of 2014, we encouraged families to focus on resolving not to change or add to their lives, but to simply enjoy the good things in life. Rather than using the start of a new year as a time to focus on ways to fix perceived flaws in ourselves, it’s much more enjoyable to use the first of the year as a time to spark positivity and, after focusing on enjoying the good stuff in 2014, families can use the start of 2015 to spark a year of sharing kindness.

In addition to being a time for celebration, the holiday season brings with it a culture of kindness and generosity and, as the holidays come to a close, this culture is often stowed away or scaled back until the next year’s holidays come around. However, instead of letting kindness, generosity, and compassion be character traits that we reserve for only the most celebratory time of year, families can resolve to share kindness throughout the year – helping to remind themselves and others that being kind is necessary no matter the season.  Read the rest of this entry »

20 Things We Should Say More Often, by Kid President

The Good Life: Every Act of Generosity & Kindness Counts!

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

 One Makes a Difference

Every act of generosity and kindness counts, no matter how big or small! Support Hilltown Families  with a tax-deductible donation, and watch your gift of generosity keep on giving!

I think of December as the time to donate to charitable causes. It isn’t logical, it’s emotional. In truth, July may be a better time to give because everyone is feeling generous and benevolent in December. July on the other hand, is like a desert in the philanthropic landscape. But I will stick with December, because like many of you, my heart is softer, and my compassion for others is somehow boundless this time of year. But is my heart softer because I give? Maybe one day I will give in July, too…and maybe April. Maybe through giving my compassion grows?

Philanthropic thinking is something which develops over time, and is often inspired by someone else. As a child my dad purchased a red poppy without fail on Memorial Day. He would give it to me. At the time I didn’t know what Memorial Day was about, and to me that poppy was just further proof that my dad loved me a whole lot. I also didn’t know that he was teaching me something. I remember watching the Jerry Lewis Telethon where Jerry, on the brink of exhaustion, would plead for pledges for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. My ten-year-old self called and pledged the ten dollars my grandma had recently sent for my birthday…and immediately regretted it. Ten dollars was a lot of money to a kid then, and Jerry influenced me with his dramatic sweat and tears while I ate my Count Chocula that morning. What had I done? I immediately went to my dad, and told him I was saving that money for something special. He never wavered. When the envelope arrived in the mail, I signed over the check. He taught me something.  Read the rest of this entry »

Paying it Forward with a Small Act of Kindness!

Intergenerational Community Service Workshop Spreads Kindness into Western MA Communities

On Friday, April 11th, 2014, Hilltown Families and the Art Garden presented a Flowers for Friends Workshop, the fourth workshop in a 5-part free Friday family workshop series in Shelburne Falls, MA. Families gathered to paint terracotta flower pots, planting them with violas to pass along to others in their community. Participating families were encouraged to give their flowers to an elder in their neighborhood, or their librarian, classroom teacher, receptionist at the hospital or animal shelter, or other community space of their choice. — Paying it forward with a small act of kindness!

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Do this project at home or with your youth/community group too! Simply paint terracotta pots with acrylic paint (no need to prime). Wait for the paint to dry (20 min.). Fill your pot with dirt and a pansy or viola. Write a note of encouragement, support and/or kindness on card stock and adhere it to a popsicle stick to stick into the dirt with your flower. Give to people in your community!

Random Acts of Kindness with Handmade Valentines!

Handmade Valentine Workshop for Families on Friday, Feb. 7th from 4-7pm The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls

Make Your Own Handmade Valentines with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls during a free family workshop: Friday, February 7th, from 4-7pm.

Handmade valentines are wonderful expressions of thoughtfulness that can be shared with neighbors and friends, or with people you might not know. Join us to make many! Think about making a valentine for your librarian, postal worker, or teacher. Make several and deliver them to a nearby homeless shelter, nursing home, or an elderly neighbor in your community. Send them in the mail to long lost friends or relatives you have never met!

Handmade valentines are lovely tokens of kindness to share with others!  Join us to make a batch of your own! Drop in anytime. All materials included, but feel free to bring any materials you’d like to incorporate into your handmade valentines. Space is limited for this free event and pre-registration encouraged. Click here to sign up!

Handmade Valentines Workshop: Spreading Random Acts of Kindness with Hilltown Families & The Art Garden

Handmade Valentine Workshop for Families on Friday, Feb. 7th from 4-7pm The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls

Make Your Own Handmade Valentines with Hilltown Families at The Art Garden in Shelburne Falls during a free family workshop: Friday, February 7th, from 4-7pm.

Handmade valentines are wonderful expressions of thoughtfulness that can be shared with neighbors and friends, or with people you might not know. Join us to make many! Think about making a valentine for your librarian, postal worker, or teacher. Make several and deliver them to a nearby homeless shelter, nursing home, or an elderly neighbor in your community. Send them in the mail to long lost friends or relatives you have never met!

Handmade valentines are lovely tokens of kindness to share with others!  Join us to make a batch of your own! Drop in anytime. All materials included, but feel free to bring any materials you’d like to incorporate into your handmade valentines. Space is limited for this free event and pre-registration encouraged. Click here to sign up!

Boxing Day: A Day of Gratitude

Boxing Day: A Yuletide Tip

Drawing inspiration from the holiday’s roots, use the day after Christmas to show some appreciation for those in service positions who you see regularly. Kids can make thank you cards for the workers who stock shelves and bag your groceries at the local co-op, bake and deliver cookies to the farmers at a local CSA, or make prayer flags covered with messages of thanks and gratitude for the doctors and nurses working at a local community health center.

Boxing Day, St. Stephen’s Day, Day of the Wren, Second Christmas Day, Day of Goodwill – known by many names in countries around the world, December 26th brings a second day of celebration. Following the traditional Christmas Day, the holiday most commonly known as Boxing Day is a bank holiday – a day when banks and other similar service-based industries are closed, allowing workers an extra day off. Though the holiday has evolved over time, its roots are quite similar to its modern manifestation. Boxing Day gets its name from the practice of giving Christmas boxes filled with food and gifts to servants and tradesmen – something that took place after the members of the upper class had enjoyed a day filled with celebrations (during which many of the service workers hadn’t had a day off)…

Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Thanksgiving Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:

Thanksgiving Episode
with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn

This special Thanksgiving episode by Charity Kahn from Charity and the JAMband explores, through music and story, some of the many, many things we have to be grateful for in our lives — like the sun, rain, friends and family – – culminating in a vision for world peace where everyone finally has enough food, shelter, community and love. Incorporating songs by Snatam Kaur, Los Lobos, the Moody Blues, the Rolling Stones, and Nat King Cole, among others, the music and commentary weave a gentle yet thought-provoking meditation on gratitude, generosity, love and compassion to inspire folks of all ages this holiday season.

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Nov 23rd & 24th, 2013
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: Charity has a great song, “Loving Kindness.” She writes, “Love shouldn’t cost anything. This song emanated from the Buddhist practice of Loving Kindness (also called Metta), whereby you send wishes of health, happiness, safety and peace of mind to yourself and others.”  In this video she shows you the movements to the song so you can show your preK kids how to dance along! Download the song for free here. – www.jamjamjam.com


 Archived Podcasts Radio  Facebook Twitter

PLAYLIST

  • Rolling Stones – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” [Let It Bleed]
  • Beatles “Dear Prudence” [White Album]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Grateful” [Family Values]
  • Snatam Kaur – “Long Time Sun” [Sacred Chants for Healing]
  • Gene Kelley – “Singing in the Rain” [Best of Gene Kelley]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Green Beans Everywhere” [Family Values]
  • Nat King Cole – “Frim Fram Sauce” [The King Cole Trio]
  • William Steig – Sylvester and the Magic Pebble [Read by Charity Kahn]
  • Moody Blues – “Lovely To See You” [On the Threshold of a Dream]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Love Is Herel” [Family Values]
  • Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now” [single]
  • Los Lobos – “Peace” [Kiko]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “We Are the Ones” [Family Values]

Serving up Gratitude & Kindness for Thanksgiving

The Good Life: A Year of Thoughtful Seasons by Sarah Mattison Buhl

Growing Beyond Thankful

Expressions of gratitude often happen as a result of some small gesture of kindness… By offering our best, kindest selves, the people we encounter will find themselves profoundly grateful, though it is unlikely we will ever fully realize the power of our gestures…

This Thanksgiving, like many other families, we will travel to spend time with close family. We’ll load the van too full, then ease southward toward the Hudson River Valley to gather at my husband’s childhood home. It is lovely there. The fireplaces are inviting, the beds are generous, and the company is good. I am thankful for so much comfort and good fortune, but beyond that, I am grateful for the enduring love and generosity of this family.

On the surface, thankfulness and gratitude seem interchangeable, but the more I think about the words, the more sure I am that there is a difference between them. Thankfulness is cool, polite and controlled. Many of us celebrate Thanksgiving in the tradition of our New England founding fathers and mothers. They were Puritans. They were polite…and controlled. Gratitude is different. It is bigger. Gratitude is deep, abiding, personal, and emotional. Gratitude is lasting and humbling…

Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Play: Guerrilla Play

What to Play? by Carrie St. John

Play it Forward

This month we need to spread the play. It’s cold out. People are looking for signs of spring. I think families can brighten a little corner of our world with kindness and have great fun doing it.

Many people are helping neighbors near and far. Knitters have made blanket squares for victims of Super Storm Sandy (Knit Sandy). Many observed the National Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King (Spreading Kindness). Small gestures are made numerous times a day that can brighten an afternoon such as holding a door for a delivery man loaded high with packages, helping your child’s teacher with a special project or shoveling the neighbor’s walk. We decided to spread play in our community.

I mentioned yarn bombing in my column last year. Those wacky knitters provide the public with visual interest and color in unexpected places. Knitted items pop up over night. Yarn bombers spread creativity, art, beauty and ideas. Technically yarn bombing is an act of graffiti. Northampton frequently removes it from the main areas downtown. We decided to start making Play Bombs! Can play bombs be illegal? I hope not. We have been leaving finger puppets, tiny toys and bouncing balls around Northampton on and off for months now. Have you found a paper puppet in your stroller? Or a tiny purple spider on the jungle gym? Maybe a felt bunny on the chair at a local coffee shop? We try to be subtle and act as if we accidentally left an item behind, as subtle as you can be with a 7 year old excited about leaving surprises for other children to discover. Each has a little note so people know there is no need to look for the owner. You can brighten the faces of kids in an after school program by dropping off something as simple as a box of paper airplanes. Are the neighbor kids home with the flu? Leave a box of hearts to cut out with scissors and glue on the front steps. It’s easy and can quickly bring a smile. Just don’t get caught. Play bombing is much more fun, if it is secret.

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Help us spread some play this month. I have links below for more ideas and examples of random acts of kindness.

February Resources


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carrie St. JohnCarrie St. John

Carrie was born, raised and attended university in Michigan. As a child she rode bikes and explored her rural neighborhood freely with siblings and neighbor kids. Mom and Dad never worried. The kids always made it home after hours wading in the creek and climbing trees in the woods. After college she moved to Kyoto, Japan to study traditional Japanese woodblock printing. In 1995, she began a career at a small Chicago firm designing maps and information graphics. Life brought a move to Northampton in 2001. Carrie completed her MFA at UMass in 2004. Her little love, Sophia, was born in 2005. The two live in downtown Northampton where they constantly make things, look forward to morning walks to school and plan each spring for additions to their plot at the community garden. Carrie continues to do freelance work for clients here and in Chicago.

HFVS Thanksgiving Episode with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Radio Show/Podcast)

Listen to Podcast:

Thanksgiving Episode
with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn

This special Thanksgiving episode by Charity Kahn from Charity and the JAMband explores, through music and story, some of the many, many things we have to be grateful for in our lives — like the sun, rain, friends and family – – culminating in a vision for world peace where everyone finally has enough food, shelter, community and love. Incorporating songs by Snatam Kaur, Los Lobos, the Moody Blues, the Rolling Stones, and Nat King Cole, among others, the music and commentary weave a gentle yet thought-provoking meditation on gratitude, generosity, love and compassion to inspire folks of all ages this holiday season.

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Nov 24th & 25th, 2012
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: Charity has a great song, “Loving Kindness.” She writes, “Love shouldn’t cost anything. This song emanated from the Buddhist practice of Loving Kindness (also called Metta), whereby you send wishes of health, happiness, safety and peace of mind to yourself and others.”  In this video she shows you the movements to the song so you can show your preK kids how to dance along! Download the song for free here. – www.jamjamjam.com


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PLAYLIST

  • Rolling Stones – “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” [Let It Bleed]
  • Beatles “Dear Prudence” [White Album]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Grateful” [Family Values]
  • Snatam Kaur – “Long Time Sun” [Sacred Chants for Healing]
  • Gene Kelley – “Singing in the Rain” [Best of Gene Kelley]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Green Beans Everywhere” [Family Values]
  • Nat King Cole – “Frim Fram Sauce” [The King Cole Trio]
  • William Steig – Sylvester and the Magic Pebble [Read by Charity Kahn]
  • Moody Blues – “Lovely To See You” [On the Threshold of a Dream]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “Love Is Herel” [Family Values]
  • Johnny Nash – “I Can See Clearly Now” [single]
  • Los Lobos – “Peace” [Kiko]
  • Charity and the JAMband – “We Are the Ones” [Family Values]

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