Tina L Porter

Wanting More for Their Advent Calendars (and world)

Family, Gender, Grace, Joy, Love, Parenting No Comment

When my mother was here for Thanksgiving, we shopped for candy and trinkets to put in the “advent stockings” I had knitted for my three daughters. While I made pies, she sat at the table and stuffed them all with the care only a grandmother can offer.

This morning, Time Magazine, announced its “Person of the Year” as the Silence Breakers, the women who came forward. I haven’t taken too much time to read their reasons, or look at the talking heads talking about it, but it made me think of those little advent stockings and the treats we stuffed into them. It made me think of all the intangibles I would rather put in my daughters’ lives, not just for a day, but forever. So here is my advent list for my daughters:

  1. The absolute knowledge that your body is your own and you set the parameters for that beautiful body.
  2. A voice of the angel that split the night, sounding “Hark,” to be used in joy as well as in fear.
  3. Another voice, that beckons others to lean in to your knowledge and leave you knowing themselves and the world that much better.
  4. A tribe. (might need a bigger stocking)
  5. Hope. It seems just out of reach right now, and also like a useless tool in your survival kit, but it is what helps you see past the mess at your feet and in your face to the society we have yet to create.
  6. Art. Because beauty is hope made tangible.
  7. Wild dreams of what could be. Crazy, positive dreams of the world you and your friends are creating each and every time you open the door of love for someone who didn’t think they deserved it.
  8. Tools. Yes, a hammer and a screwdriver, but also tools to keep love and friendship going when it seems to have come to a dead end. Tools to break barriers made by old white dudes in ties. Tools to build up the society you seek.
  9. Pens and paper, to write up what you know, to jot down what you want to know, and to write down and burn what doesn’t need to be in your life right now (or ever).
  10. Songs. Songs for sleeping, songs for greeting, songs for energy, songs for steeling your spine, songs for celebrating the joy that is this life.
  11. Shoes. Good-soled shoes to carry your soul forward as you do the work, and protect you somewhat when you step on nails. You will step on nails. Just be protected.
  12. Gloves. Like the shoes, you’ll need to protect your hands because there will be rusty things, thorny things, rough and crusty things that will slow the work of your heart.
  13. A good outfit. Whatever it is that makes you feel like the you you always are in your heart. (Like my ‘jeans, tunic, boots’ uniform of late!)
  14. An open heart. It hurts to leave it open sometimes, like you’ve just sucked in sub-freezing air, but then there are the times that feel so much better than that hurts because you allowed yourself to be open to a person, a moment, a dance, or a song that transforms a part of your brain that didn’t know it needed it, but your heart did.
  15. An open mind. Be willing to be proved wrong even as you stand by what you know to be true. This will allow conversation and community-building, even when you aren’t sure you want to commune with the other person. Remember the open heart. They are connected.
  16. Open ears. Listen more than you talk. It’s an old adage, but a true one. Your family habits don’t make this easy, but try it on for a day or two.
  17. Knowing yourself. Knowing your strength and knowing your limitations and not allowing anyone to tell you that your limitations are a weakness. Your strength lies in knowing what you can do and doing it.
  18. One thing. Okay, I’m stealing this from City Slickers, and it isn’t really one thing, it is one thing at a time. Remind yourself daily that you are allowed to do one thing at a time. And you are even allowed to do it badly (as long as you are open to doing it better in the future). But give yourself the gift of doing only one thing at a time.
  19. Time out. Put the phone and the computer in the closet for a while each day. Do the dishes while dancing to the favorite song in your head. Let your brain air out for a while and think it’s own willful thoughts.
  20. Diversity. Eat new foods, visit new places, make new friends; be open to cultures you don’t know and how the stories of those cultures are different from your own. (Okay, that one’s for my stocking because you guys got this down–except the way one of you rejects Indian food. We’ll work on that.)
  21. Eyeliner. Cuz sometimes you need to outline your eyes so people know that you see them–either because they need to be seen in the moment or because they need to know someone has detected their bullshit.
  22. Home. Carry it with you wherever you are.
  23. Love. Because love.
  24. Chocolate. Because, duh.

Merry, merry, my not-so-little ones.

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