Tuesdays with Ana: My hero, Mister Rogers (Advent Calendar, Day 10)

On Tuesdays (all year, not just for the Advent Calendar), I write about anything that strikes my fancy. Often these are longer, reflective pieces about things ranging from burn-out to creation of an identity to loneliness. Sometimes, they are about small things like taking out the trash. Or about the craft of writing, such as observing our world or shifting points of view. Tuesdays are when I like to slow down, think over things that have happened, and put to words what I’ve been processing. Often, the comments on Tuesdays are more profound than anything I’ve written, and this has become one of my favorite “everyday” events here. You don’t have to be an author to join in, a spanko, or any certain role. You just have to be a human being.

You may have noticed that Ana’s Advent Calendar has few Christmas-centric posts. Sure, we joke about Santa Claus (never about Mrs. Claus!), but not everyone here is Christian, not everyone celebrates Christmas, and not everyone who observes Christmas feels like celebrating.

Last year for the Advent Calendar, I wrote about a tradition called “Blue Christmas.”

When I was younger, my church started a tradition called “Blue Christmas”.  During the first week or so of December, there would be a special Christmas worship service for anyone for whom Christmas was less than a 100% joyful experience.  (Really, isn’t that most of us?)

One lesser-known fact about Kat [Ana’s note: Kat is a fictional character in two of my books, The Way Home and Lighting the Way] is that she lost her father at Christmas time.  She almost never talks about it, but every year the presence of his absence colors her experience of Christmas.  She also is not a huge fan of Christmas because she works in retail and dreads the crowds of stressed-out, angry shoppers determined to out-shop everyone else.

For some, Christmas is a wonderfully happy time filled with anticipation, family, and celebration.

For some, Christmas is pure misery.

[. . .]

Celebrations and happy times are wonderful, but sometimes watching other people’s celebrations can make it more painful to experience our own loss.  I’ve mentioned before that Christmas this year will be a quiet one for me, and instead of feeling sorry for myself I want to focus on celebrating what and who I do have with me.  Still, today I would like to honor those for whom Christmas may be a bit difficult.  You are not alone, and what you are experiencing is 100% okay.

For all the hilarity of the Advent Calendar, my original goal was to create a safe space where everyone can come for the month of December. Everyone. Not just if you are married, have children, have your parents or partner still alive, or if you live a comfortable life. This is not the happiness of exclusion, of throwing a party only for those who are happy. If your heart is a bit tender, you are welcome here. You are *especially* welcome here.

Our dear friend Bas, known to many of us but a new figure to others, graced us with his love, wisdom, and inimitable wit before he died earlier this year. Re-reading his past comments makes me feel the warmth of his love once again.

Everybody misses loved ones at the Christmas table. But none of those left us on or around Christmas.
For 35 years we have had a “Close Family only” Christmas dinner at our house.
Dutch houses are not built for dinner parties with the whole family.
We started in 1977 with 7 persons, and although 3 of those 7 are no longer with us. The number of attendants this year will be 8.
Our children took the seats of our parents. Next year there will be a grandchild.
That’s how it’s supposed to be.
It is grieve and joy at the same time.

Dearest Bas did live to see his grandchild, a wonderful little boy who is now old enough to sit up and eat solid food. We will indeed grieve and “joy” (how I love the way Bas would create verbs out of nouns and nouns out of adjectives!) at the same time.

We have lost so many others in addition to Bas. Thank you especially to Joanne Best who has let us be part of her journey this year, her first Christmas without her mom. Thank you to others, perhaps those too shy or private to share, who have also made Ana’s Advent Calendar your home for this month when things may not be super-stellar happiness.

Too often, if we are sad when others are happy we are told to “suck it up,” to “get over it,” or to put on a mimicry of happiness so others won’t feel uncomfortable. Yes, we do need to put on appropriate demeanors for work or polite society or for those we don’t know as well, but we also need safe spaces where we can be okay with ourselves. If we feel a little sad today, we are still worthy and beloved.

Today I’d like to tell you about one of my heroes, a man who told me and millions of others that my feelings were okay and I mattered as a person. You can read about him here.

For kids in the US a few decades ago, Fred Rogers and his iconic children’s television show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, taught us how to grow up. Trained as a minister, puppeteer, and musician, he and his sweaters (all knitted by his mom) introduced each show with his theme song, changing his sweater, and changing his shoes. Every story I’ve ever heard about him tells of his self-discipline, humility, shyness, dedication, and ability to draw stories out of everyone he met.

This remix shows a bit of Mister Roger’s smile and personality.

This video, not as well known, shows Fred Rogers speaking to the US Senate in 1969 to fight for PBS (commercial-free US television company funded largely by donations that hosted shows like Sesame Street in addition to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood). Really, everyone should watch this video. This is what it looks like when sincerity wins over cynicism.

My hero.

I’m not the only person who love Mister Rogers. He won a lifetime achievement award at the Emmys in 1997, and his acceptance speech is the message I’d like to leave with you today. Please take the time to watch and take his words to heart.

On the flip side: This is a chilling video about the power we have to influence other people’s lives.

I hope you’ll come back for more Tuesdays with Ana, even after the Advent Calendar finishes, and chat with me about life.

For today, I have a range of questions in an effort to respect the wide range of readers here. Choose one or more. 🙂

  1. Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood or your (grand)children’s childhood? What memories do you have?
  2. Whom will you think of this year during celebrations?
  3. Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are?
  4. How will you be an influence for the good?

Today, I’d like to you help me spread some holiday love. Choose one person (you can say who it is or keep it secret) who needs a reminder that he or she is a special, loved, and worthy person. Send a note, pick up the phone, make a visit, buy or make a little gift…whatever you like, but let’s pass along a little love.

P.S. Here is my lovely friend Joey posing next to a picture of Mister Rogers. I call him the “Mister Rogers of the spanky world” because he is so kind and patient in detailing his experiences in various spanking venues. Consummate gentleman, our Joey.

P.P.S. Here is a wonderful series of interviews with Fred Rogers when he won the award.

UPDATE: Okay, Fred Rogers is not everyone’s favorite. I know. 😀 So out of respect for those of you who could take him or leave him, here is a smile for you instead.

183 thoughts on “Tuesdays with Ana: My hero, Mister Rogers (Advent Calendar, Day 10)

  1. Erzabet Bishop says:

    Hi Ana.

    1. Yes. I loved to watch him.
    2. My father. I lost him the year we moved to Texas to be closer to him and for my husband’s work.
    3. My husband. He may not understand everything I do as a writer but he is very supportive.
    4. I am a bookstore manager and as you said in your post the holidays are not always fun. Late nights, early mornings, rabid selfish individuals day in and day out wears me down. This year I am also juggling several deadlines. We also just had to have our roof repaired again leaving us a bit financially strapped. Christmas this year may just do me in. I want to give my niece and nephew a nice day, but it remains to be seen if that will happen. I am used to doing without but sometimes it is wearing on the soul.

    My husband is on vacation for a month during my busiest time of year and unless you work retail you don’t always get the need for isolation when you can finally get away.

    So…to answer your question…I will work on being patient with myself and others. This morning after a night of three hours of sleep the rescue puppy woke me fifteen minutes before my alarm. I was and am grumpy as I guzzle coffee and contemplate my day. Tuesday is a busy day at work. New books and store resets. Patience….I will need it. And maybe a beer hat full of coffee and a fist full of chocolate.

    With love,



    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      How hard to lose your father at a time when you had just hoped to have more time with him.

      Your niece and nephew will cherish your love and attention long after toys break, money is spent, food is eaten, and gifts broken or lost or outgrown. The gift of time is far, far underestimated. My aunt once gave me a lovely framed set of photos from my childhood, and it’s probably my favorite gift from her, ever.

      Retail, yes, poor dear! I hope you can take a break and escape the madness now and then.


  2. Ria says:

    This year, and every year, I will remember my parents. They were the best. My mother taught in an orphanage for 30+ yrs; my father was a surveyor. They both taught us to be tolerant of others, there was always good in people (you just have to dig deeper in some), to be loving and giving. My mother taught us to be strong. I believe that my sister, who now lives with me, is the strongest of all because she has put up with so much for so long.


  3. chickie says:

    Ana your Tuesdays have always gotten a reaction out of me, though not always the intended one. This was a groan, a few tears, and a giggle.

    Bas… I wish I hadn’t lurked so badly for so long. He made me laugh, made me think, made me laugh again.

    Mr Rogers was almost a bad word in my house. See, I was (am) what they called a spirited child. I never understood this until I began teaching, at which point I completely got it. Spirited was the nice way of saying “I like your child but she bounces off the walls and I can barely control her. Good luck with that.”

    We had few tv channels but pbs came in clear. Mom would plop me in front of mr Rogers to make me settle down. Most if the time I’d catch the last few minutes of Electric Company. Now THAT was a show to my liking! Mr Rogers was the end of the fun. And frankly, some of his puppets freak me out to this day. Daniel Tiger… Eek! So glad my kids are just old enough to not latch into him now that he’s got an animated show of his own! That being said, Mr Rogers was an amazing man who made an incredible difference for children, well all of us.

    So I could go on here about my blue Christmas and how many holidays leave me empty. It’s not lost family members that bring me down, it’s just a f’d up childhood and the hole in my heart that was never filled with the memories that “everybody else” received growing up.

    I choose instead to focus on what I have and find joy in everyday things through the eyes of my children and students.

    And to anyone who falls into a pattern of sadness around the holidays, I get it. Really I do. But get off your tail and make a difference. One if the best ways to find happiness in yourself is to create it in others. Not just now but all year long. If you can afford to do so, go buy some presents for kids that will be without this year. If you have time , volunteer to serve meals to the homeless or get involved in some other cause. Hate people? Volunteer with the SPCA instead. You are not alone in your little blue bubble. Get up, pop your bubble, and make yourself the catalyst to pop somebody else’s.


    • Joelle Casteel says:

      ah, Daniel Tiger was one of my favorites.
      having a “spirited child” myself, I can relate, Chickie. I was quiet, I was settled, as a child. My son had colic, the family joke is that he never even shuts his mouth when he’s asleep. yup, bouncing off the walls- and I chose to home educate him 😀


    • Thianna D says:

      Ohh, I loved Electric Company. “Hey! YOU! GUYS!”

      “I would, if I could, but I can’t, so I won’t, please forgive me if I don’t! I want it perfectly understood. I would, yes I would, if I could…but I won’t!”


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      “Spirited” child is probably an understatement for you, Miss Chickie! Spirited can also mean, “I love you, but for heaven’s sake I wish you were in another class sometimes.” 😀

      LOL…you and Thianna and Kathryn can form the anti-Mister Rogers brigade. Just for you, I put up a picture of a cute kitty. Happy, missy?

      I absolutely agree about making a difference, but it should apply to all of us. What if those of us comfortable and safe in a blessed holiday bursting with family and friends…well, what if our holiday became a time to welcome, truly welcome and not just pity or give handouts, to people who are alone? Not the condescending “poor you, come and eat dinner with us” but to open our minds and be willing to give up part of our comfort. I’d love to see more of us take that step. 🙂


  4. Emily Tilton says:

    I watched Mr. Rogers every day from the age of about 4 to the age of about 7. The Land of Make Believe was one of my favorite things in the world, and I’m positive he shaped my values very decisively. For the next ten years of my life, of course, Mr. Rogers was just about the least cool thing on the planet, but then, with the help of my parents, I realized just how special he was. Thanks for reminding me of him in this season, Ana!

    Challenge accepted: spreading the love.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I think even as a child I found the Land of Make Believe a bit hokey, but I did love the trolley. Other adults told me to face reality, but Mister Rogers was an adult who said fantasy was okay. Now guess what, I’m grown up and still make believe.

      And yes, special and cool aren’t always the same things. Are they, miss lacy white thong?


  5. terpsichore says:

    1.Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood or your (grand)children’s childhood? What memories do you have? I do remember watching Mr. Rogers as a child, and enjoyed it, though Sesame Street was my favorite. I always remember him being kind. My husband loved watching Mr. Rogers as a child and still remembers some of the songs and sayings by heart. 🙂
    2.Whom will you think of this year during celebrations? I think of my family, my husband, my parents, my children, my nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters whether of blood or relation or friendship, my friends here and all over the world, people who have passed but whose memories live on…all for whom I am grateful
    3.Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are? My mom has always been the greatest supporter and accepted me for me…my husband who loves me no matter what even when he doesn’t understand…and all of you who let me know I was not alone in my desires to be spanked and that those desires are okay…and you Ana, for your fine post of welcoming everyone! 🙂
    4.How will you be an influence for the good? I will continue to find the good in everyone and pass a smile to every “neighbor”. 🙂 I will take a moment to breathe before reacting in every day life, I will be true to who I am so others can feel free to do the same. I will love…deeply and strong…


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Oscar the Grouch and Slimy were pretty great, weren’t they?

      And aw, you are most definitely okay. I love your dancing spirit, and you are always welcome here.

      And you will take a moment to honor yourself, I hope, and pass on that peace.


  6. minellesbreath says:

    I am just a bit old for Mr. Rogers to be an important part of my childhood. That being said I recognize what a good man he was and how he touched so many with his love and kindness.
    This year I will keep close to me and cherish the moments with my parents and especially my mother since she loses a bit of her awareness every day. My time with everyone will matter to me. And I believe It is important to realize that not everyone has warm fuzzy memories of this time and that is okay.
    As to our dearest Bas, I often think of him and his amazing ability to offer love to all of us. He had a special place in his heart for some and worked hard to reach out with his special spirit of care!

    Thanks Ana.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I am being nice and not responding to the comment about age.

      We are what we are, and good memories or not we still belong here.

      I don’t know how that man managed to love so many, but he did. He still amazes me even today.


  7. abby says:

    Oh…this advent calendar just keeps getting better!

    Yes, i watched Mr. Rogers, as did my children….sadly my grands have no idea who he is. I say him as having a calming affect, helping children to see that they are special…just the way they are!

    Of course i remember those who are no longer here to celebrate with all of us. My dad, and my niece, who saw far too few Christmases. But i also take the time to look back on the year, and remember all those who touched me in a special way during the way….those who carry the spirit of Christmas year around.

    At different times in my life, different people have helped me to find ‘me’. At first my parents, then mentors and friend. Most recently….Master and all of you.

    I try to send out written notes every week. My initial goal was 1 a day…but i have learned to be happy with several a week. At least one of them is to someone i have not seen in a while, one of my grands is always on the list, and someone who is going thru a tough time. I know i find great joy in finding the unexpected personal note in my mail box..

    hugs abby


  8. SH says:

    I now have the theme song for Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood running on an endless loop in my head but that is ok 🙂 My little brother watched him every day and then my children used to watch him too. I always used to think of what a sweet, calm man he was and he really made children think he was talking directly to them. That is a special talent that not many people possess.


  9. Tara Finnegan says:

    Mr Rogers didn’t make it this far, I don’t think, although Sesame Street did. The first I heard of him was from you, Ana,about a couple of months ago and I think it’s a pity we didn’t grow up with him.

    Likewise, by the time I entered blogland, Baz was extremely ill and sadly passed away before I had the opportunity to get to know him

    The empty chair at my table this year, and for the last few years has been my mother’s but her spirit lives on as we celebrate Christmas very much in the way I did as a child. No-one truly dies, their spirit lives on on the people who have loved them and been influenced by them. As long as we keep them in our hearts, they are alive to us.
    If I may, I’d like to share some words I find inspirational at times of loneliness. Most people we loved would like to know we loved and miss them, but that we can find our way to surviving grief.

    The author is unknown,

    When I come to the end of the road
    And the sun has set for me,
    I want no tears in a gloom-filled room,
    Why cry for a soul set free?

    Miss me a little – But not for long
    And not with your head bowed low,
    Remember the love that we once shared,
    Miss me – But let me go.

    For this is a journey we all must take,
    And each must go alone,
    It’s all a part of the Master’s plan
    A step on the road to home.

    When you are lonely and sick of heart
    Go to your friends that we know,
    And bury your sorrows in doing good works,
    Miss me – But let me go.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I love this poem, Tara. Thank you so much for sharing it. It’s hard to let go, and yet we must if we can return to a productive life. Too much grief inhibits our ability to enjoy what is good in our lives, even if it feels like so much sadness. Bas said that if we could only remember him by crying, we shouldn’t remember him at all. Of course we still cry, but in a way it is also happy tears to have been touched by his love.


  10. Michelle B says:

    Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood or your (grand)children’s childhood? What memories do you have?

    – Mr. Rogers was indeed in the neighbourhood while I was growing up but he never came to our hourse. Honestly, he freaked me out – I’m sure he was a wonderful, kind man in his own way, but as a child, he freaked me out. Mr. Dressup – now there was an icon I could relate to! I was a child of the arts so his drawings, his tickle-trunk full of impossibly varied costumes, the adventures he, Cassie and Finnigan would have along the way… ahh yes, those were the days! 🙂

    Whom will you think of this year during celebrations?

    – My grand parents are always top of mind during the holidays. My dad’s side had a smaller family so Christmas dinner was more subdued, but when we arrived at my mom’s parents, the party would begin – my mom’s siblings (my aunts and uncle) & their children (my cousins & siblings) would fill the 100+ old house, play, eat homemade meatpies and sweets, run around and laugh, watch the Macy’s parade even though it was American and barely affected us, music in the background…
    – My dog Zeus and cat Trouble always come to mind for me, even though they passed on in mid-July. Remembering their snuggles and their goofyness, they joy of getting a new bone/toy to chew/play with. There’s nothing like a pet’s delight for the simple pleasures to remind you of the joys of Christmas!

    Choose one person (you can say who it is or keep it secret) who needs a reminder that he or she is a special, loved, and worthy person.

    – “Ana”, we like to tease you threaten to whap/spank you at every moment, and I know that over the years you’ve had personal moments when life wasn’t all roses, but I hope you know that you are loved and a special person 😉 My mom always told us that we only tease those we love, and judging by the amount of teasing you get (at least online), you are indeed VERY loved 😉


    • catrouble says:

      So totally agree with you Michelle! Ana…you are indeed very much loved by all of us who tease you! But you still deserve a barn burner! 😀

      Hugs and Blessings…


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I don’t really get the appeal of Mr. Dressup, but I think some things have to be experienced in childhood. I wish sometimes I could have experienced more as a child, but then again my own experiences were just as legitimate. 🙂

      I love all of your memories and the way you keep each day special.

      Aw, thank you for your sweet note. I am most certainly teased/loved, and it’s been great fun to have you join in. ❤


  11. quiet sara says:

    Yes Mister Rogers was a part of my childhood. I mainly recall the
    puppets and the trips to learn about things such as how crayons
    are made etc…

    This year I have had my grandma on my mind. She has been
    celebrating Christmas in Heaven for the past few years. She was
    a tiny lady with lots of love and hugs. I miss her very much. I wish
    I could share just a few more moments with her and hear her sweet
    giggle once more.

    The person or people really who make me feel it is okay to be
    me would be my lovely sister whom I adore and my husband. They
    are both my true best friends and I love them so very much.

    I will be an influence for good by being kind. Kindness, in my opinion,
    is always the right choice.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Crayons seems to be a favorite memory. 🙂

      I understand what it is like to miss a grandma…sigh. Still, we had the years we had and I try to be appreciative for those.

      I know you will enjoy Christmas this year with your new naughty knickers. 🙂 I hear you’re going to put up a post..please let us know when!


  12. Leigh Smith (aka Sunny Girl) says:

    Like Minelle, Mr. Rogers was not around when I was little and I don’t remember our daughter ever watching. The only things I know about him is that he was folksy, wore sweaters and is remembered by many.

    This Christmas we are fortunate enough to be spending with our daughter, SIL and grands. It doesn’t always happen and I will appreciate the time and look forward to creating new memories to look back on in years our togetherness is not possible. I will be thinking of those that are now only with us in spirit and in our hearts and minds.

    I believe we are influenced by everyone and everything we encounter in our lives. Hopefully those I’ve encountered have been influenced by my better traits rather than my baser traits.


  13. Liz says:

    I used to watch Mr. Rogers every day, even when I was older because I had young siblings. My aunt met him in the elevator in the hospital where she worked. I cried the day he died.


  14. angel says:

    I loved Mr Rogers and I really enjoyed watching it with my kids it was a light in what has become a dark tv shows It was so awesome to see my kids hear about being nice to all doing for others and being a good nieghbor ..My Husband has shown me over and over that it is ok to be me it is ok to not be perfect he is my best friend and has always been there to pick me up when I fall…. Anna I look forward to seeing you on Tuesdays and chatting with everyone my first new thing for the new year Be blessed not stressed


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Yes, Mister Rogers is a show I can let children watch without having to worry about issues that might come up later. Maybe it’s boring, but that’s not a feature of many programs supposedly for children. I look forward to seeing you on Tuesdays, too. 🙂 We can all work on feeling blessings rather than stress.


  15. paul1510 says:

    Whom do I think of at Christmas, my father who died on the 24th December 1973, he mostly made me who I am,
    Who can I be who I truly am with, my beloved wife, my younger sister and her eldest daughter.
    Little random acts of kindness are always good.
    Warm hugs,


  16. Joelle Casteel says:

    Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood or your (grand)children’s childhood? What memories do you have?- most definitely. his show was one I watched every day. I was always saddened when I got to middle/high school age and heard the jokes about him being a child molester. Nope, I simply don’t believe he’d have every done this, and I still find the jokes in poor taste. I remember the trolley and the puppets. The puppets were an important part of the show for me.

    Whom will you think of this year during celebrations? Sadly, I will likely spend the holiday torn between thinking of my mother’s cruelty and my Master- who won’t be spending the 5 hour round trip with our son and me as I make the trip to see biological family.

    Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are? my Master. thank goodness I have Him as a voice telling me good things about my body, as society and my anorexia tells me I need to lose a bunch of weight

    How will you be an influence for the good? I need to go make the donations of clothes and such that I meant to during Chalica, but never had the chance to. And I hope that my Master, despite losing His job, says we can still rescue a cat


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Yes. I have no problem with someone not enjoying Mister Rogers, but to make jokes about child molestation (which should never be a joke, anyway) is absolutely wrong. Pick on his sweaters, his shoes, or whatever, but don’t make a joke that defies the core of what a person stands for.

      I hope you will be able to find good moments this holiday and that your travel will be smooth.


      • Joelle Casteel says:

        BTW- I love Princess Sarsi :D- just finished “Coming to Terms” last night. It’s been good reading the responses, both yours and others, and being reminded of many of the characters. Unfortunately, my son preferred “Teletubbies” and “Barney” etc- Mr. Rogers was too old fashioned and well as a teen he’s now too mature for shows like that, he thinks 😀


  17. Michael says:

    Your words touched me, Ana, touched me deeply. Your message of inclusiveness is not just for the Christmas season but for all year round. This time of year can be tough for many people so that is why we open our arms and hearts all the wider.

    Kat, stay strong this Christmas season as you deal with the craziness of work, and I’m sure you’ll remember and celebrate your dad with all your heart.

    Joanne, all our hearts go out to you on your first Christmas without your mom. We are all hugging you tight.

    Bas sounds an amazing man. We are all poorer that he is no longer here.

    Ana, today I will be helping you spread holiday love by phoning a person dear to me and expressing my love for her and gratitude that she is in my life. I would also like to spread holiday love by telling all the people here on your blog that they are special, loved and very worthy, and they make me feel the same way. Thank you all.

    1. Never watched Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood but know what a good man he was, and how he influenced generations of children for the better. He is a wonderful hero for you, Ana.
    2. This year, just as I do every Christmas, I will think of my departed parents with love and joy.
    3. My beautiful wife Season makes me feel it’s okay to be who I am.
    4. I will be an influence for the good by living by the golden rule and treating others as I would like to be treated.


  18. Blondie says:

    1.Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood or your (grand)children’s childhood? What memories do you have?
    Yes, he was one of the shows, like Sesame Street, that I watched regularly. I remember him singing and telling me that he was my friends and that he liked me for being me. I also liked the field trips. They were great b/c he always asked the questions I wanted to ask. He was an adult who made you feel special.
    2.Whom will you think of this year during celebrations?
    3.Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are?
    Still working on this. I try to set a good example for my kids and not criticize myself in front of them.
    4.How will you be an influence for the good
    I would say that I help with the poor and homeless, providing meals and gifts. But sometimes I think that they are helping me.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Yes, he had a great way of asking questions! Nothing seemed too stupid to ask, and it made it all very natural.

      I am glad you will work on accepting yourself…always a hard task. And yes, in reaching out often we are the ones who are helped.


  19. Merna says:

    1. Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood or your (grand)children’s childhood? What memories do you have?
    So I watched all of your links, and am sitting here in tears. Mr. Rogers was such a great guy. I probably watched him as a kid, but what I remember more was watching him and many other PBS programs with my children. We loved them all, and still quote Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street to each other. I loved how Mr. Rogers would take us to to see places you would never visit in real life, like a crayon making factory. It was so interesting.

    2. Whom will you think of this year during celebrations?
    My mom died a year and a half ago, so this will be our second Christmas without her. I think of her almost every day.

    3. Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are?
    My husband.

    4. How will you be an influence for the good?
    Boy, this is tough…, I try to be good myself, but don’t always hit the target. I guess the best way I can be an influence for the good to to set a good example for my children. (Like getting my chores done, instead of playing around on the computer.) I think I do very well at letting them know they are loved just for being who they are, but I don’t always set a good example.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Aw, yeah, to me Mister Rogers symbolizes such goodness that I wish more of us could show. The crayon making factory seems to be a favorite episode of many. I liked it, too. 🙂

      So many preparing for a first or second Christmas without a mom.

      Sometimes being an example is the most powerful lesson we can teach, isn’t it? But we also need to forgive ourselves for not being perfect, too.


  20. Sue Lyndon says:

    Love your post today, Ana, and great questions. Yes, I watched Mister Rogers all the time as a kid, and we have some tapes that our kids watch today. This year I find myself thinking of my grandparents, remembering how they used to be before Alzheimer’s and dementia took over their minds. They are still alive, but I keep thinking of past Christmases and spending the week at their house and helping to make a huge dinner and lots of cookies. I miss that, and I really miss them – being able to talk to them, especially my grandma because I could tell her anything. Okay, now I think it’s time to bring out the Mister Rogers tapes and curl up on the couch! Hugs! 🙂


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Aw, a Mister Rogers day! I approve. 🙂

      To watch grandparents no longer be able to engage in the same way truly is sad, but it’s also part of taking our place in life. I miss all of the cookie making, too. Hugs.


  21. Sarah says:

    Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood? What memories do you have?
    Ummmmmm, no. I’ve probably seen less than 5 episodes. I didn’t watch a lot of tv and most of what I watched wasn’t educational or directed for kids. I didn’t like cartoons or the Muppets or Sesame Street, and that includes Mister Rogers. So, no I don’t have any memories of him, except his intro song.

    Whom will you think of this year during celebrations?
    I will focus on my husband and kids. But I’ll also remember those who are missing, grandparents ( one who passed this week a few years ago) an aunt who was killed in a car accident (this week 7 years ago). So hole it’s a bit sad, there is much joy as well. Well said Bas!


  22. JoanneBest says:

    Oh dearest Ana, what a beautiful wonderful post that has indeed brought tears to my eyes, my tears are bittersweet, so sweet of you to mention me losing my Mom (how can less than 8 months feel like forever while also feeling like it was just yesterday?) and I know there’s a little bit of bitter in me wondering how a broken shoulder wound up taking my Mom from me when we’d just spent the week before in Cape May on one of our Mother/Daughter trips. I could go on and on about the bitterness I feel toward a healthcare system that told me she was perfectly fine and transferred her to rehab for her shoulder at 10pm one night then called me at 5am the next morning to tell me she was gone; but I tell myself there was a reason I’ll never understand until my time comes and I see her once again. I’m sorry if I’m bringing anyone down, I guess it’s partly because last night was the first time I dreamed of my Mom and I could hear her voice as if she was truly with me…some mornings I wake up and for a few seconds think of my morning cup of tea with my first of many phone calls with Mom till reality hits me hard.
    Whew! Sorry about that folks, I’ve been mood-swinging a lot these days so let’s move on to Mr. Rogers; although I did watch Mr. Rogers sometimes, for the most part, when I was a kid I spent most of my time playing outside. Right at the end of my street was a gigantic natural playground, the clay pits of Sayreville NJ. Surrounded by woods and ponds, my Mom would pack me a sandwich and either tea or hot chocolate and I’d spend the day ice skating in the winter and hike and climb the hills made of clay in the summer. I guess in a way I was living in Mr. Rogers neighborhood, with Mr. Smith living across the street always with a pocket full of butterscotch candy, everyone knew each other and it was safe to walk anywhere at any time without fear. Eventually they ‘paved paradise’ and put up a school and tons of new houses; it makes me sad that the kids today can’t live their childhood like children, without worry, just playing outside where the worst thing that would happen was a skinned knee (or a broken shoulder which I got from tossing a football in the street with my BFF when a bat swooped down over our heads and we ran, tripped over each other’s feet and fell, me on the bottom and ouch! Broken shoulder yet worth it for the fun we had).
    As for who I’ll be thinking of this year at Christmas time, well I’ve lost a lot of friends and family over the years but as painful as each loss was, nothing compares to the loss of my Mom. Mom WAS Christmas; she always made trays and trays of homemade cookies and candies, decorated the entire house like a winter wonderland and it always smelled like Christmas when you walked through the door. We were so looking forward to this Christmas because the year before, the house wasn’t finished after Hurricane Irene so we were so happy to get back to our regular Christmas traditions but she passed around 4 months after she moved back home.
    I don’t know what this Christmas will bring; I did Thanksgiving at my house this year for my Dad (Mom always had Thanksgiving at her house) and I did my best to reproduce hers; the next day my Dad told me that I’m an excellent cook just like my Mom was but I shouldn’t try to reproduce what she did, I should do it my own way and my Mom would be so proud of me no matter how or what I cooked. At first I felt a little hurt but then I realized he was right, she taught me how to cook and I AM an excellent cook learning from the best.
    Dad never was one for talking about feelings, or talking much at all really, but since Mom’s been gone he’s opened up to me like never before, I used to call Mom several times a day and vice versa and now, to my complete surprise, my Dad’s been calling me every day (and vice versa) and we’ve become closer than ever. My 2 brothers don’t get along so great with Dad so it’s all on me and to be honest, I have a feeling in my gut that Dad won’t be here too much longer, he’s 87 and full of piss and vinegar (as the saying goes, hope that doesn’t put me in the corner 😉 ) but his health is failing and Alzheimer’s is knocking on his door so I spend as much time as I can with him now, where my brothers see a cold heartless man I see a lonely man who misses the woman he was married to for 65 years, a man who lost both his parents by the age of 2 and was never really taught how a family works, I’ve been working on him and now, just like always, I tell my Dad I love him everyday, but now he says it back and this year was the first birthday without Mom and for the first time ever, my Dad bought me a birthday gift, an autographed copy of a book about my hometown of Sayreville, I was shocked beyond belief that he not only gave me a gift but he gave me something I really wanted and couldn’t find anywhere. Sorry for such a long comment, but thank you so much for accepting me into your very special family here, and in case I haven’t said it before, I love you all, every single one of you are making a huge difference in my life and making the intolerable tolerable, there are not enough ways to say thank you all ❤ xox


  23. JoanneBest says:

    This part got lost in my copy and paste so please allow me to add:
    So as far as who makes/made me feel like it’s ok to be “me”, obviously my Mom always told me to be me, to be happy, to do whatever it was the I wanted or needed to do to be happy, “life is short”, she’d say, “don’t spend your life being miserable, think about yourself and stop trying to please everyone because you never will, just be happy.”
    I married a man who doesn’t like to talk, he says I talk too much and why can’t I get to the point instead of making a paragraph when I can say it in a sentence…. it didn’t bother me as much before when my Mom was here, she was my best friend who I told every little secret to, one of the reasons she said what she did was because she knew I was headed for the same kind of marriage she had- in other words I married my Dad and I’d never be fully happy with a man who controls me (and not in the good way 😉 and drinks way too much )…. so my friends are limited but I do have a very good friend who keeps me sane and grounded, someone I can talk to without censure and not worry about being judged, someone who is in the same position as I am and encourages me to write…he is the path not taken but I am grateful that there is someone I can just talk to who understands me, both of us knowing we can be nothing more than friends, accepting it and are just grateful to have a safe place to let it all out- kind of like a Dear Abby type relationship, a friends with benefits only without the benefits 😀 (does that make me a bad person? is spousal rape acceptable? I pray the answer to both of those questions is a resounding ‘no’.)
    As far as being an influence for good? I do my best to be there for anyone in need of anything I can do to help them. When Hurricane Sandy hit we were lucky in that we only lost power for 17 days so we invited our neighbors who were hit harder than us as well as our neighbors without a generator to stay with us as long as they wanted, so we had a very full house for a few weeks but it made me feel good to be able to give back after all the help we got from Hurricane Irene the year before.
    I want to help spread holiday cheer as much as possible, I plan on making those peanut butter truffles I wrote about yesterday and passing them out to my neighbors (I always like to have extra gifts on hand in case someone unexpectedly drops by so I make extra batches and wrap them up so no one feels forgotten.


    • terpsichore says:

      Hi Joanne…I am just meeting you through Ana’s advent calendar -so hello…I just wanted to thank-you for sharing your heart…you never have to apologize for sharing your feelings here- your feelings are your feelings and whether feelings of joy or sadness, we are here as listening ears and support as friends who accept everyone in kindness and respect. I love that most about this community. I am grateful my mom is still with me – but your words sparked when I read them as my mom is my best friend too and I can’t imagine life without her a part of it…I wish you strength and joy in the memories…she will always be alive in your heart. Hugs, Terps


      • JoanneBest says:

        Thank you Terps, same as you, I’m just meeting you thru Ana’s Advent Calendar and I appreciate your words and I feel your hugs…I’m so happy for you that your Mom is your best friend and still with you, as I grew older I realized that my Mom was getting older too, though I wasn’t worried because her Mom lived till 92 and my Mom was 84 and a cancer survivor, I thought if she could beat that she could do anything, but I looked around me and saw I was one of the few lucky ones, I still had both my Parents so I decided I wouldn’t waste time, I was lucky and wanted to have no regrets when that future day would come and I have no regrets, just a big fat hole in my heart which is slowly being filled by all of you here…cherish every moment with your Mom, she knows how much you love her and I guarantee it means the world to her. I feel my Mom around me, and to be honest, I truly feel she directed me here, it wasn’t until she passed that I started writing here, I decided to be true to myself and not censure myself but write whatever came out of my head, so even though I said I have a hole in my heart, at the same time, she is in my heart and always will be. Hugs to you and a big tight hug to your Mom from me ❤
        love, joanne =^..^=


        • Anastasia Vitsky says:

          We all have our own ways. For so long I lived in a way to avoid regrets later, but I learned I was placing too much pressure on myself. So now I do what I can, accepting I might have regrets later, but that this is part of life. In the meantime, I focus on the joys and connections of here and now. ❤


          • JoanneBest says:

            I know what you mean, and agree that placing too much pressure on yourself can make you sick, literally; I guess it stands to reason I wound up with fibromyalgia after a lifetime of trying to bend over backwards pleasing people…. I think the reason I feel so strongly about the avoiding regrets (I have to add that I only felt that strongly when it came to Mom) is because I see my husband and 2 sisters-in-law feeling that regret and guilt every day knowing that while they avoided helping their Mom when she had her first stroke I gave up my job to stay home and take care of her till the day she passed even though everyone knew she didn’t like me at all. Although I spent time with Mom for years, it was only after MIL passed I knew I couldn’t let the same thing happen and put a lot of effort into spending time with her.
            You won’t have regrets my dear, because you are aware and doing what you can by taking care of yourself too, after all, you can’t spend every moment twisting into a pretzel for others then wake up and find life has passed by and all you got was sick.
            My New Years Resolution is that I will focus more on the joys and connections of here and now, as you so perfectly put it…. I didn’t have a NY resolution until I read those very words you wrote ,now I not only have one, I have hope, and thank you for that, so very much ❤


        • Marybeth says:

          Joanne, I feel for you. My mom and I are very close, but don’t get to see one another very often. I can’t even imagine her not being here, though it will happen some day. I hope that you continue to find the best in life. It’s a wonderful quality to have! Hugs and cuddles coming your way!


    • Michael says:

      Wonderful memories, Joanne, and great advice from your mom. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      I have been to Cape May, love the old Victorian houses, and to Sayreville where I have cousins.


      • JoanneBest says:

        What a small world! Cape May is my favorite place in the world, we’d go 2 or 3 times a year and stay at the Victorian across from Congress Hall, it’s going to be hard to go there without Mom (tried to go with hubby- it was a nightmare) but I have a feeling that full-blooded fiery redhead of a Mom would smack me in the head from the Beyond if I stopped going 😀
        And cousins in Sayreville? If they’re old-time Sayreville residents, I probably know them, before they built all the condos and houses everyone knew everyone 🙂


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Joanne, I’m going to respond to some of this post a bit later, but let me say that we are honored to have you here. Community is not just about happy times, but being able to reach out. Your sweetness and sincerity have affected many here, including me. ❤


    • Katie says:

      Hey Joanne, 🙂 I am so sorry about the loss of your mom. It must be hard to lose a mom and best friend at the same time! I am sending you many hugs, and I am glad that you shared some of your adventures that you had with your mom through the years! It is our memories that sustain us I think. In time, as we think of a special loved one that is gone, often our tears are replaced with smiles that we have known them, that they enriched our lives. Oh we can still have those moments, and they will come out of the blue, but in some ways it gets a tiny bit easier. Thank you for sharing! Not easy. Many hugs,

      ❤ Katie


  24. Kelsey Summer says:

    Ana, You’re really making me think this month. But it’s a good thing.

    Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood or your (grand)children’s childhood? What memories do you have?I used to love Mister Rogers when I was a kid. I watched just about every day. I loved make believe land and especially Daniel Striped Tiger. I did try to introduce my kids to Mister Rogers, but it was too dated. They quickly lost interest. Elmo was much more entertaining to them.

    Whom will you think of this year during celebrations? I always think of my grandmother this time of year. She passed away 20 years ago Thanksgiving week and I still think of her around the holidays and miss her. I was very close to her.

    Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are? Honestly, this blogging community has made me feel that it’s okay to be me. I know I don’t post a lot, but reading what everyone else is going through and their experiences make me feel like I’m not alone. Most of my extended family is very conservative and I don’t feel like I can really be myself around them. Here, I’m accepted.

    How will you be an influence for the good? I am always there for people. My husband likes to joke around that I “collect the freaks and geeks.” He is only joking and doesn’t mean it in a bad way, but in a way it’s true. For as long as I can remember I’ve always gone out of my way to talk to and befriend the people who don’t seem to have friends. I think this has been a positive influence on my kids. My teenage daughter goes out of her way now to help people that are struggling socially. She’s always telling me about the different people she invited to her lunch table. She really, truly, doesn’t care what people think. She has no tolerance for bullying and will get right in someone’s face if she witnesses something. She’s tiny (90 pounds soaking wet) and I’ve seen her go up to big football players and yell at them for hurting one of her friends. My pre-teen son is a straight A student, but some of his best friends are the kids who struggle. His school has a lunch bunch program where kids with social issues can invite a friend to lunch with the guidance counselor. My son goes with a different friend to their lunch bunch 5 out of 6 days (they have a 6 day, rotating schedule). When we first moved into our neighborhood there was a boy across the street who the other boys made fun of because he had some speech problems. My son, who has always been fairly popular (complete opposite of his nerdy mother), immediately took him under his wing and got the other kids to stop bullying. The child’s speech is fine now and he excels academically and socially. He just needed a friend to believe in him. I encourage my kids and will continue to pick up my “freaks and geeks.”


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I love making people think. 🙂 I think Mister Rogers is the sort of thing you appreciate as a very young child or as an adult…in between, especially people who aren’t sensitive themselves, you tend to dismiss it as hokey or dated or corny.

      How many of us only choose friends who are exactly like us? I’m glad when there are people who find other ways.


  25. angieia says:

    I never really watched Mr. Rogers nor did my kids. I always think of my grandparents that are no longer here. My grandpa especially because he told me to always be myself and that I could do whatever I put my mind to. He was my biggest supporter. Now I tell my kids that they can do anything they put their mind to. My son had dreams to go to a college out east (we live in the midwest) and he realized that dream. My daughter wanted to go into the Marine Corps and did, but unfortunately came home a couple of months later with broken arm. Now she is in college and getting her Bio-med degree to go on to be an anesthetic assistant (I think). I have also told both kids that their dreams can change and to just go with it.

    Ana, thank you for such a thought provoking post! You are really awesome!!


  26. JC says:

    Mr Rogers was a part of my childhood. I remember thinking it was cool to toss my sore from one hand to three other when I took them off. I miss the old shows like Mr Rogers Neighborhood, good clean shows that taught something.


  27. Holla Dean says:

    I love this, Ana. You gave us all a lot to think about.

    1. Mister Rogers wasn’t around for me but he was for my children and I always enjoyed watching the show with them. He was always so calm and patient. Sometimes he made me feel bad right after I yelled at the kids to turn that TV off and go clean their rooms. He helped me to remind myself to let them be kids.
    2.This year, like every year, I will think of my grandparents who are no longer with us. We are very fortunate in my family and seem to have great longevity. Almost everyone lives well into their nineties. In fact, we’ve not had a death in the family since my grandparents died in 1994! I still miss them, especially at this time of year. My grandma always loved holding the latest baby. And she made a delicious poppy seed strudel.
    3. My parents and my husband. My husband supports me in everything I do. He cleans house when I’m writing like mad and suffers through frozen pre-packaged dinners when I don’t have time or don’t want to cook.
    4. I try to be an influence by being good. Not just the good that we joke about on our blogs. But overall good. Helping people who need help, having patience with others when they interrupt us, giving some time and whatever you can to those less fortunate. There’s always someone less fortunate than you. Even if you can’t give money, you can give time or pass on your knowledge about whatever your specialty or interests may be.

    I will remind my husband that he’s special. I always tell other people how wonderful he is, but I know I don’t say it enough to him.


  28. jackie huntington says:

    1. I loved Mr. Rodgers growing up. I cried when he passed away
    2. I will think of my parents. And wish that they were with me.
    3. My 2nd husband. He healed me after my first broken, abusive marriage. He lets me be who and what I am without laughing or making fun of me.
    4. This time of year, I go out of my way to make donations-not that my family doesn’t all year long….My favorite charity this time of year is the Salvation Army. Throughout the year, we donate clothing, bedding and food to the community.


  29. P.T. Wyant says:

    Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood?
    No? I really don’t remember watching him when I was little. (I do remember watching The Lone Ranger… and The Cisco Kid, one or the other of which got me in trouble with my maternal grandmother. I was watching one of them and she came in from outside. I picked up a toy gun and said “Stop or I’ll fill you full of lead.” Let’s just say that not all spankings are fun…)

    Whom will you think of this year during celebrations?
    Between different schedules, scattered families, and different religious traditions I’m not even sure WHEN the celebrations will be. But cooking and baking always makes me think of my paternal grandfather, who was the most important person in my life.

    Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are?
    That’s a tough one. My mother fought for years to try to mold me into what she thought her daughter should be. (She failed.) But HER mother…. long before Ricky Nelson recorded “Garden Party” my maternal grandmother would tell me, “You can’t please everyone so you might as well please yourself.” I think that it mostly comes from within — but that line certainly helped.

    How will you be an influence for the good?
    I think I may have pissed someone off yesterday by standing up for my beliefs. Does that count? (She said someone “looked gay” and I asked what “gay” looked like. I don’t think she ever did come back to that conversation.) I will continue fighting stereotypes and pushing for equality.

    Today, I’d like to you help me spread some holiday love. Choose one person (you can say who it is or keep it secret) who needs a reminder that he or she is a special, loved, and worthy person. Send a note, pick up the phone, make a visit, buy or make a little gift…whatever you like, but let’s pass along a little love.

    I’ll call my mother after bit — I’m not sure if they’ll be back from lunch yet. (And I need a Motrin first — I just got hit on the head by a clock. Don’t ask.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Naughty, naughty Paula.

      Standing up against stereotypes is a huge one. If more of us didn’t laugh off an inappropriate joke/comment but instead said with sincerity, “I’m feeling uncomfortable now,” what a huge change that would be!

      A CLOCK? Dear Paula, I’m afraid to ask. So I won’t. *shaking my head*


    • Marybeth says:

      Paula, thank you for standing up against stereotypes. My nephews say that a lot and I always ask what that is. Now, my grandmother said something was gay, but she meant that the shirt was a bright and happy color. I don’t think she understood it had another meaning. LOL


  30. Maren Smith says:

    1.) Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood or your (grand)children’s childhood? What memories do you have? Mr. Rogers and Sesame street were both childhood favorites. Our TV at home never left PBS except when Mount St. Helens blew her top. And then we watched the news 24/7 because my father and uncle were camping in the shadow of it at the time. My sister and I have this habit of randomly bursting into song. Often commercials or little jingles, but Mr. Rogers’ Would You Be My Neighbor has been in our personal Top Ten for decades.

    2.) Whom will you think of this year during celebrations? My sister Emily who died in December 7 years ago now and my mother. This will be our second Christmas without her.

    3.) Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are? I have too many to name. Life is too short to surround yourself with people who degrade your self-worth.

    4.) How will you be an influence for the good? I have no idea how to answer this one. Like my little misbehaviors, I tend to wing it in regards to my do-gooding. But I hope I do it in little ways to random people every day.


  31. Renee Rose says:

    Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood or your (grand)children’s childhood? What memories do you have?

    I loved Mr. Rogers, but not the puppet part. Didn’t know his mom knit his sweaters!

    Whom will you think of this year during celebrations?
    my mama

    Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are?
    my husband

    How will you be an influence for the good?

    Joey is the perfect spanko mr. Rogers.- love it!


  32. octoberwoman says:

    What a beautiful post today. I remember watching Mr. Rogers as a child, but I don’t remember my children watching him. Although I’ve always worked full time and they were in day care practically from birth to junior high, so they may have watched him without me. To this day though my sister and I still often talk in “meow meow meow”.

    I don’t ever really look forward to Christmas and am always glad when it’s all over. The best part of the holiday to me is seeing my younger sister, who lives in a different state. And this year she has a new grandbaby we’ll be meeting at Christmas.

    Our grandmother passed away the day after Christmas in 2005. I was born on her and her twin’s 40th birthday, and I always felt like I had a special bond with her. I can remember when my sisters and I were young, when we squabbled or fought my mother always told me I should know better because I was the oldest. But my grandmother always took my side – even when I slapped my sister once! She was being a brat and picking on me, and when she ran crying to Grandma after I slapped her Grandma just told her she should have left me alone.

    Her twin and our grandfather both died not long after her. Grandma loved Christmas, and cooking pies and cakes, and presents, and everything about the holidays, and it’s just not the same without her. Our holidays are much more subdued now.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I’m glad you will get to see your sister and especially a new grandbaby. How exciting!

      How neat about sharing birthdays, and the story of your grandma sticking up for you is priceless. We all need someone to take our side even when we’ve been a little bit bad. 🙂

      One of the things that bothers me about modern Christmases is that people seem to feel that without children there is no magic. That’s absolutely not true–there is just a different kind of magic. I wish we could learn how to create that. And, just like Joanne, you will create your own special Christmas magic in your own way.


  33. Thianna D says:

    Okay, so I think my sister and I are the only two people who would sit around making fun of Mr. Rogers when we were children. I’m talking 7/8 years old, we would sit in front of the television – forced by mom of course – and when he would say “Can you say fish tank, boys and girls?” We would snidely reply “Can you say fish tank, Mr. Rogers?”.

    The only part of his show I actually liked was the puppets – and was the only reason I would watch.

    I know many people liked him, and you are welcome to do so, but I will forever remember him as the most annoying man who talked down to children.

    I’m also different in that at the holidays, I prefer to be alone. I hate fake family parties where I am supposed to be happy to be around people I never have anything to do with the rest of the year so why would I want anything to do with them now?

    My dream is every mid-November through the beginning of January, to disappear to either a quiet island or a cabin in the middle of the woods, meditate, write, and just be.

    Celebrating my way.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Hey, that’s what the kitty pic is for. Surely you’re not against cute kitties, too? 😀

      I know Mister Rogers wasn’t everyone’s style, but rather than talking down to children he spoke with sincerity.

      We all have our own ways to celebrate, and sometimes that may be quietness and solitude. How you choose to spend the day is your business. Some of my best holidays have been spent volunteering.


  34. Ami says:

    I’ve never heard of Mr Rogers unfortunately. I would also be too old because if Minelle is too old, then I am far too old. I do miss Bas very much though.

    My own mother died not long before Christmas, over thirty years ago. That year was very sad, but thankfully I had two babies to nurture, and Dan of course. But I still look at pictures of my dad taken that Christmas and see how sad he looked, like a little boat cast adrift.

    However, I keep up one of the Polish customs he taught me. I set an extra place at the table at Christmas, (Eve and Day) and place a handful of hay on the table. The hay reminds us that the Christ child was born in a stable and lay in a manger. The extra place is there to remind us that He may come at any minute and we should be ready for him. It is to remind us to feed the hungry as well.

    I have several friends who are not Christian, one is a Hindu for example. They happily share in our Christmas activities, and we share in theirs such as Divali.

    I was very saddened when I was in the parish church in our town yesterday to view the Christmas Tree Festival (nearly three hundred trees all beautifully decorated by town people and organisations). There was a tree to write prayers on slips of paper and attach to the branches. As I reached to hand mine in place a card swung around and I read it. It said “Thank you for being a homophobe Lord and condemning me and making my life hell.” My eyes filled with tears and I can’t stop thinking about it. How I wish I could reach out to this person. No one signs their names on these cards. How awful and sad our society if we can ignore such pain and anguish. I really wish I had an answer, but I do not. I don’t think I will ever forget that little card.

    Blessings and hugs


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I wonder what the UK version would be of Mister Rogers. I like the custom of an extra place setting, and I like the idea we can share each others’ customs.

      I am saddened by that note, too. Surely there is a better way.


    • Katie says:

      Gosh Ami!! That card would have upset me to no end! How sad that someone feels so misunderstood!!

      The extra place setting at your table with hay is really neat! What a cool custom! 🙂


  35. Kathryn R. Blake says:

    Another thought-provoking post, Ana.

    Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood or your (grand)children’s childhood? What memories do you have?

    Unfortunately, my reaction to Mr. Rogers was more like Thianna’s. He tended to rub me the wrong way. I recall how at the beginning of every show he’d change out of his “work” clothes and into his “play” clothes, which included the proverbial sweater and sneakers and speak directly into the camera as if he addressed each one of us personally. I’m sure he was a genuinely nice man, but I always felt like he was talking down to me as a child (yes, I can say “fish tank”), and it annoyed me. Admittedly, I was a precocious child.

    Whom will you think of this year during celebrations?
    Both my husband and I have lost our parents. We have some aunts and uncles still with us, but no longer have much contact with them. So, we have a lot of memories during our celebrations, especially since the 24th is also hubby’s birthday. We need to make sure he doesn’t feel forgotten or overlooked during our holiday festivities.

    Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are?
    Hubby, more because he never hesitates to point out why I’m far from perfect, in a semi-joking way. When I’m upset about something, he’s quick to take it to an ultimate extreme, which brings my problem right back into perspective. He grounds me in many ways, but he’s never encouraged me to be anything other than what I am.

    How will you be an influence for the good?
    By offering encouraging thoughts and words whenever I can.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Provoking, that’s me. 🙂

      I can imagine you were precocious!

      I hope you’ll turn off the lights when necessary and avoid any trouble about that. 😉

      And yes, your thoughts and words are appreciated by many. Thank you.


  36. catrouble says:

    Thank you for such a lovely post Ana even though it and the comments above brought tears.

    My sons and grands watched some of Mr Rogers but he was a bit laid back for my oldest son and the grands…wild childs. 😉

    This Christmas is a bit of a tough one so will be thinking of family and friends not present…by choice or not.

    Matthew is the one that really made me feel okay to be me and to accept myself…sure do miss that.

    Influence for the good? Me? Ha!

    Hugs and Blessings…


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Aw, ya big softie. 🙂

      Yes, laid back is a good description. Calming, for sure.

      Even if Christmas is a difficult one, I hope you will hold tight to those who love you in their hearts, even if they are far away or if they aren’t able to express their love to you right now.

      You were loved, and you are loved. Death does not stop your worth as a person.

      Thank you for all that you give and all that you are.


  37. Mona Lisa says:

    My beloved father died on the 26th. December 1992.
    I always think a lot more of him and talk to him when it’s Christmas. Sure, I will think of Bas too .. talk to him.

    I always set the table for an extra person , my mother used to do that . You never know who would be willing to come and then the man is always invited to the table, as if he was expected.

    There are many people through my 50 years, who accepted me as I am and encouraged me.

    I will think a little more on sharing smile to people passing on the street, the driver in the car next to mine, simple people in simple everyday situations.


  38. thelongbean says:

    As I have never knowingly seen Mr Rogers, I have no comment to make.

    As for one of your other questions, I do my best to give back to the community i live in, whether it be by fundraising for good causes or practical help such as making a video of an event or performance for the organisers and participants.


  39. Janey says:

    I have never heard of Mr Rogers either, but it sounds as if he brought good.
    I always remember my Dad at Christmas as he made them so special for me. This year my uncle died and I was close to him, but will also be helping my cousins through their first Christmas without their dad.
    For us Christmas is about sharing and family. My house is open and people are welcome as long as they come and muck in. I never know how many of my family and their partners and children will turn up on Boxing Day, but we don’t stand on ceremony, help yourself and offer others. Play games and have fun, listen to others or shout loud enough to be heard. My mums house used to be the hub that everyone descended upon, now she comes to me and helps me cook. It is so funny how things come full circle, she will prepare and cook vegetables and ask me if they are cut up small e Pugh or if they are cooked well enough. She is the one who taught me to cook.


  40. Leah says:

    Somebody gave me some support and encouragement recently at work when I was having a very rough day. I felt so grateful and my first instinct was that I needed to be that person for someone else. Since then I’ve been very conscious of trying to encourage a few other people who might need it.


  41. kimmyl says:

    Whom will you think of this year during celebrations? My grandparents. They both died around the holidays and it makes it so nostalgic and I just them so much.


  42. Terry says:

    I know who Mr Rogers is but I think I was older when he was on TV so I never watched him. I have read how wonderful he was with children so he must have been a special person. My stepdaughters were into Sesame Street when they were young.

    I miss my parents so very much even after many years. My father grew up in a time and place where only a few families could afford to sent their children to college and rarely your daughters. He stood up to other family members who didn’t understand why he would waste his money on sending a girl to college when “all she was going for was to find a husband”. I knew from an early age that I would be going to college and get a degree. He was the proudest Dad when I did just that. My Mom was my best friend. I could talk to her about almost everything. She was a stay at home Mom and made my childhood a wonderful time. I feel blessed that I had a family that gave me love and unending support my whole life.
    My next thoughts for Christmas will be for my new baby grandson who lives very close to my husband and me. I can’t wait to watch him grow up so I can spoil him like all grandmas should.

    I have a few close friends and my wonderful husband that I know I can count on for love and support.

    I hope to practice the Daily Acts of Kindness motto more often and to help others when I can. I know this sounds like a stock answer but I think sometimes it is the little things that get the every day person though their day.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Dads who stand up for their daughters are pretty wonderful people.

      How wonderful you can have a new grandbaby to play with and spoil! Now try not to spoil him absolutely rotten. 🙂

      Sometimes it’s the tiny things, like letting a harried mom with a screaming baby go ahead of you in line, or letting someone have the parking spot. It can make a difference.


  43. Kitty says:

    oh god i haven’t thought of mister roger in a long time. me i’m old so i remember him i used to watch him all the time. back then we only had about 5 channels that came in. this was pre any kind of cable there was no such thing back then.
    i loved the playtapus and the train.
    this year i’ll think of all the family members who have passed on. i’ll think of calling my mom. she the last of my family left now. other than cousins ect.


  44. TL says:

    This post is awesome. It’s amazing the power of influence that people have. One of the people I share with my students is Wil Wheaton from Star Trek TNG. He is a self proclaimed nerd and often talks about how it is okay to be a nerd, and why being a nerd is awesome. There are a couple videos on youtube of him talking about such things that are well worth a look. I love that he does this and I try to do it as well, because I wish there had been someone there for me to say it was okay to be a nerd when I was struggling with it.


    • Marybeth says:

      TL, I remember Wil Wheaton on Star Trek TNG! He was cute. Last I saw him, he played himself on Big Bang Theory. He was hilarious! I didn’t know about the videos, I’ll have to go look. My kids (and husband) are nerds. Math and science whizzes. I wish I could be like them! I didn’t get those genes! lol


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Wil Wheaton is such a contradiction–fans loved to hate him as Wesley Crusher, but he has a great image now as someone willing to poke fun of himself.

      The episodes where he plays himself on BBT are truly hysterical. I love how he doesn’t mind playing a “bad” image of himself, rather than insisting on being shown as perfect. It takes guts to be portrayed as a jerk, but he does it very well.


  45. Katy Beth McKee says:

    I did watch Mr. Rogers and so did my older children. I think of the people who I went to church with as a child because they were a good influence for me. I miss my ex’s grandmother. She adopted me as her own and that didn’t change with my divorce. She was one of the first people to met my hubby when we started dating and she loved him. She was alive when my 2nd was born (1st with hubby) and she never thought of him as anything other than another great-grandchild. She knew that my ex’s had pawned all our baby stuff and she showed up at my door as soon as she knew I was expected to replace the crib and mattress that was lost. This woman was such a wonderful example of love.

    I don’t know yet who I will pass something on to but I will make sure I do so.


  46. sassytwatter says:

    This post couldn’t be more timely. I read it early this morning & felt a little to emotional to answer.

    Your question Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are? I have been lucky enough in the last year to meet someone I am so in sync with that they know me almost better than I know myself & have given me a safe haven to be totally honest with my wants & needs. I’m so lucky that I met this person totally in such an unexpected way and they are there to support me with no strings attached & just wants me to be the best person I can be.

    How will you be an influence for the good? I think it is so important his time of year to stop and take time out and realize what the season is about not the commercial aspects. I connected with a close friend who is suffering right now from depression & her current situation is a bit rough that she is not in a good space. I was able to meet and take her to breakfast & let her know that she is loved and there are people here to help her.

    Thank you for this post.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I know that sometimes the emotions can be a bit strong, so I try to balance the posts this month…some silliness, some fun, and some more emotional ones.

      I am glad you have found someone to be there for you, and I’m especially glad you have found happiness in being your own nutty self. Very nutty, but sweet.

      This is a hard season for many, and I’m glad you took the time to care for someone who needs it.

      Thank you for your wonderful presence. I’m thankful to Fika, the Swedish custom that brought you here.


  47. Michelle Willms (@willms_m) says:

    I grew up with a biological father who truly hated me. He told me frequently that I was ugly and stupid and would amount to nothing. My mother divorced him when I was 7, but my sister wanted to move back to the part of the country where he lived a few years later and I felt I needed to go to make sure she stayed safe (even though I was the little sister). So, I lived under his abusive roof for many years. My mother remarried a wonderful man who is my real father. My mother is a wonderful woman who worked three jobs to take care of me and my sister and when she married my dad, he worked just as hard to try to make a safe and happy home for us. Even when we had almost nothing, we were a happy, loving family. While I lived in the abusive family, the love of my true parents kept me strong. As I went through many struggles through the years and tried to find my voice, my parents encouraged me every step of the way. They have allowed me to be myself. They still defend me and protect me, even though I’m no longer a child. This Christmas, if they cannot come visit us (I’m in Nevada now, and they are in Texas), my heart will be with them. I’ve always told my friends that my real home is always wherever my parents are because they’ve always made a home for me.


    • Marybeth says:

      Michelle, I am so sorry that your sperm donor was abusive. I’m glad your mother found someone wonderful to love and that he loved you as well.


    • Renee Meyer says:

      Wow Michelle, I just wrote almost the same story. My father has hated me since birth – although he seems to like his other children. My mother stayed with him until I was 11. She remarried a year later and that man is who I call Dad. I know what it is like to work through the stuff that kind of upbringing leaves behind. So glad you had a “real” Dad to show you what love is supposed to look like. Hope your holidays are special.


    • Katie says:

      Gosh Michelle, I am sorry that you had such a bad experience with your bilogical father! I am so glad to hear that you have parents to love and who love you back! That is what it is all about, isn’t it? 🙂


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      One of the very hardest things is to maintain a loving, safe environment for yourself while in an unsafe situation. It must have broken your parents’ hearts to watch their children put themselves into harm’s way, but at the same time I think you must have come away with an enormous strength. How else can we be compassionate except to face and go through pain? I love the saying that if we know of our neighbors’ sufferings, we have loved them. There are many who would have wished for a sister to make sure they were okay. I’m glad you were that kind of sister.


  48. Renee Meyer says:

    Ana, wow what a powerful message you had today. I read it early this morning while waiting for someone to let me into work. It really struck my heart because Christmas is a struggle for me every year. Everyone is sooooo happy and excited and I have to work hard to remain smiling. I have always been told to get over myself and be happy. As you stated sometimes that is easier said than done. Your Advent calendar has given me something to smile about and think about every day – such a wonderful place. Okay off to the questions.
    1. Mister Roger’s was a big part of my childhood. I really liked his show. He spoke kindly and softly – in my young world this was really important. He was calm, relaxed, and never hateful. I know it was a show but to me he always seemed to have time to spend with children. This was not something I knew personally as a child so his world seemed almost magical.
    2. Whom will I think of this year? This is the first Christmas that our two oldest girls will not make it home for Christmas – they missed Thanksgiving too.
    3. My dad – not my biological father but the man my mom married when I was 12. He took a very broken and shut down little bird and taught her how to fly. I honestly don’t know if I would still be here if it were not for him. The difference between life before him and after was night and day. It took him many years to break through my defenses but he never stopped loving me or showing me what love really is. He taught me about laughter, love and how to live with both.
    4. I will daily show my children and students that they to can fly no matter what that looks like. And that laughter and love can keep the world in balance.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Thank you, Renee. I’m so glad this has been a safe place for you.

      I have always disliked loud voices and preferred gentle ones. Maybe that’s why I like Fred Rogers so much. It’s too true about adults not really giving time to be present with children.

      I am so glad your dad was there for you, and that he taught you how to live a life without fear. That sort of gift is invaluable.


  49. Marybeth says:

    Hmmm…I remember Mr. Rogers when I was a kid and I remember my kids watching it. They didn’t like Sesame Street and this was a compromise. They especially loved the field trips. It was their favorite part. They still watch “How it is made” because of that.

    I will think of my brother. He died many years ago in a terrible accident. He was only 21 and I was 18. I think it was the worst thing I have ever gone through. I can’t even imagine my mom’s pain. Since then, I have been careful of what I say when people have lost a loved one. “Don’t cry, he is in a better place” A truly awful thing to say to anyone, let alone someone grieving. “The Lord must have wanted him home to take him so young” I don’t think the Lord had anything to do with it, and if He did, I think it would be terrible of Him to cause such pain for His pleasure. “It was for the best” Really? In what universe? Honestly, you would think it just happened, but it has been 31 years and it still is painful.

    Hmmm…I guess my husband. He has always been extremely supportive of me and my goals. I also would like to thank Ana for doing this advent calendar. It sounded like fun, so I finally delurked and I have found lots of new friends! (Especially Michael. I love his wit!) I have thought about spanking for as long as I can remember. I had one boyfriend in college who spanked me, but no one since then. I talked with my husband when we first married and he wasn’t interested. Oh well, I love him lots and read a lot. LOL

    An influence for good? Not sure about that. I’ll have to think some more.


    • Katie says:

      Hi Marybeth, 🙂 I lost my younger sister- my only sister more than 5 years ago, less than a decade. Gosh it does seem like it was yesterday. There are no words… I’m sorry to hear about your brother. I’m not sure that we ever really get over that kind of thing. And I hear you on the “it is still painful” thing. Yeah. Sometimes for sure… They are missed.

      My parents were changed from that day forward. I guess that we all were. So out of order it all is. I get that. And yes, people say the darndest things. I try to remember that they are just trying to help, cut them some slack, and appreciate their efforts, ya know? But it does make one choose their words carefully, doesn’t it? Best words I think are: I’m sorry, I am here, what can I do for you, I care. 🙂 Anyway, just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. 🙂 Many hugs!


      • Marybeth says:

        Katie, sorry to hear about your sister. She must be sorely missed. I can cut those people more slack now. Then I was 18 and hurting a lot.
        Thank you for your support and caring. It means a lot. And, I know I’m not alone, just feel that way sometimes. 🙂


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Marybeth, Michael is hilarious, but please don’t follow his bad example. He’s worn the paint off the walls on two corners with all his naughty deeds. 🙂

      At one point in my life, I was furious at the comments people would say with good intentions. Over time, I’ve learned to see the context of these comments. People are uncomfortable. What kind of loss is it? What would that be like if it happened to them? To think of that is unbearable, and to think of someone else experiencing that makes them feel vaguely guilty for their own good fortunate in not experiencing that loss.

      So they compensate by convincing themselves, really, (it’s never about you) that it’s not really bad, it was all for the good, and you should be happy. It’s nothing about you and all about them.

      We can forgive and understand, but we also can protect ourselves. People are who they are, and they do what they need to do. Yet we don’t need to surround ourselves with people who give messages we find hurtful. Love, forgive, and find people who will accept where you are at.

      Sometimes, being an influence for good is to be who we are, our real selves. Thank you for being real today.


  50. Penelope says:

    Thank you for a beautiful post, Ana. I wish I knew how to respond to it in as elegant a way as others have.

    This will be the third Christmas since my dad died, and I still can’t really believe he’s gone. But I feel him in my heart, as all his family do, and – even though I hurt because I can’t see him any more, or touch him – I think that love means we’re not really apart; that our little family can never be separated.

    I didn’t know who Mister Rogers was before reading this, but you give me a sense of him and the positive message he espoused. I love that he inspired you and helped make you the person you are today. And I love that you have made a place where all are welcome, and safe to be themselves.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Penny, there’s no need to be elegant. Just be you…sweet Penny who offers her heart and friendship.

      You are so young to already have lost your dad. 😦 I also believe love means you are not separated. Thank you for coming here today even when it was difficult. That means so much to me, and to others.

      I know you would love Mister Rogers. I wish Amazon in UK allowed streaming because they you could see some of his videos. I will try to find some on youtube for you.

      Thank you, dear Penny, for being you.


  51. M. Palmer says:

    Ana, I was delighted to read your thoughts about Mr. Rogers. He has always held a special place in my heart too. One of my treasured belongings from my childhood is a lovely signed picture from Mr. Rogers. My grandmother, whom I was extremely close to, wrote Mr. Rogers a letter telling him how much I enjoyed his show as a toddler. His response back was Mr. Rogers at his finest – instead off merely accepting the praise, he told my grandmother how much it must have meant to me, the child, to have her watch his show with me. And he was right – my grandmother and I adored each other. I was thrilled to have found the letter in my grandmother’s things after she had passed away.


  52. Leona says:

    Ana, Mister Roger was my ultimate, favor it show to watch.. I watched all his speacialls.. I terrible at names.. But loved when it went to imaginar castle land. I today still love Thomas the little engine.. my son had most of all his friends and him plus about 20 video… I know he has his own show know but I remember him on mister rodgers.. God I can still picture him coming into the house and putting on his sweater singing about the neighbour hood.. The one I make sure they know I love him all the time.. and do every thing in my power to let him know to smile everyday and show him that if you show happiness and caring you will recieve it back ten fold and that is my Son Alexander.. even if he is my pain in the butt. hgaha,, I hope you all have a great day.. 🙂


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      That is so sweet, and I hope that your son appreciates the love you have for him. Children certainly can be pains, but I believe that the love will have fruit. Maybe in ways we don’t expect and long after we have given up, but there will be fruit.


  53. pieclown says:

    1. Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood or your (grand)children’s childhood? What memories do you have?
    I watched Mister Rogers’s Neighborhood. I was a fan of the trolley. But I did watch and was more influenced by Captain Kangaroo. I regard both men in high esteem.
    2. Whom will you think of this year during celebrations?
    30 years ago this month a classmate killed herself. That has been on my mind.
    3. Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are?
    I not sure, I have a few pieclown friends that I can be me with and they know that I sometimes need to vent, but it would hard to say that any one is makes me feel ok with the total me.
    4. How will you be an influence for the good?
    I will continue volunteering when and where I can. Even if I won the lottery, I still volunteer. It is great making kids, health or sick happy.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Captain Kangaroo is someone I only heard about, rather than experienced, but I know many who adored him.

      The suicide anniversary is such a hard one, isn’t it? Are you still in contact with her family? I bet they would appreciate a note of remembrance.

      I hope your pieclown friends help to make you feel okay as you are, even if it starts in small pieces. It will grow.

      Thank you for the work you do to make children smile.


      • pieclown says:

        Dear Ana,
        Thank for your reply. I am no longer in contact with my friend’s mom and dad. Over time I went to the Army and they moved and address were lost. I have some friends and some pieclown friends. I get by.


  54. bellabryce says:

    2] Whom will you think of this year during celebrations?
    Our friends and family back in England, who we miss terribly. Facetime can be good and fun, but sometimes, it just makes it worse because nobody wants to see you cry on Facetime.

    3] Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are?
    Seriously – God. He loves me unconditionally. I know that he delights in me. Even when I mess up (every single flipping day) he still loves me. My husband is also the only other person physically on earth that I know of.

    4] How will you be an influence for the good?
    Love other people unconditionally the way I’m loved and be more aware of people’s circumstances and then be assertive and provide when and where I can, rather than being passive and ‘hoping’ to be a blessing.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I love what you say about being active about helping rather than hoping to be a blessing. Well said, Bella.

      Sometimes we have to cry. It’s hard to miss family, and there’s no way to get around that. Yet also I know you will cherish the family you do have with you.

      We all mess up. The key is to keep moving forward.


  55. Katie says:

    Hi Ana, I loved your thoughtful post today. Bas is truly missed! I can only imagine how his family feels this holiday season. My thoughts are with them and with you and everyone whose life he touched. Thank you for sharing some of his words here today. 🙂 He was a really good man! 🙂

    As you know, Mr. Rogers has always been a favorite of mine. I enjoyed going through the links on your post today, it brought back memories of both my childhood, and that of Rob’s and my kids, who adored his show when they were little. I think that this take away from one of your links sums it up: “When I asked him who is your neighbor, he said, whoever you happen to be with at the moment. So right there, there’s no loophole-that means we have to love everybody.” There is a great man!

    Another quote that I like from Mister Rogers is one that often makes its way around the internet in the face of tragedy. Who better to calm our souls and help us to make sense of things gone so wrong than Mister Rogers. He says: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Wise advice from someone who was trustworthy. Great wisdom for those of us who have to reach for words when what we hope is a safe world for our kids, sometimes it not just that.

    I also want to say that I was moved by the young Mister Rogers presenting his case to congress. Gosh- if we could only all be brave enough to stand by our convictions… I loved the ending: “I think it’s wonderful. Looks like you just earned the 20,000,000 dollars!” LOL! I like the fact that he gave the guy goosebumps as well. Good stuff!

    On a fun note, as a little girl, a teen and prob a young adult, I used to come across Mister Rogers here and there. He was always exactly as you saw him on tv- made you feel important. And… he bought his kids yummy fun cereal. I know it. I saw it. My mom and I laughed about it that day. He was a great guy! 🙂

    Good grief I have gone on and on. OK the questions:
    1. Read the above please about Mister Rogers.
    2. I think of my sister each Christmas. She left behind a young family. And her sibs, parents and many friends. We used to go around shaking the packages and guessing what was in them each Christmas Eve- as college aged kids, young adults. Not a Christmas Eve goes by when I don’t think of that. And how much I loved her. I miss her.
    3. Rob, my parents and I will call him an adopted by choice god father/friend and his wife. Those are the people who have been there for me. I tell them every chance that I get. Life is too short to not let people know that they have made a difference and say thanks. :0
    4. I try to spread love and kindness every chance I get. I don’t get it right every time. I am human after all. But always being kind is important to me. It is something that Rob and I teach the kids. And something to strive for.

    I sent an email to someone who more recently has made a huge difference in my life by encouraging me. I thanked them for being a good friend and for helping me to move through something. I will always be grateful! Thanks Ana! Many hugs,

    ❤ Katie


  56. Tracey Gramiak Horton says:

    1. Yes I watched Mr. Rogers and loved him sooooooooooo much!! Maybe as much as you Ana 🙂 I tell people this story: as a child I would pray that God would give me Mr. Rogers as my daddy. I prayed this every night for two years that I remember. When I was 9 my mother met a man, who she married and who adopted me and who I call Dad to this day! I have sand a t least a thousand times, God couldn’t give me Mr. Rogers but he gave me the next best thing. He is calm, easy going and so sweet. They separated 11 years later and our relationship never skipped a beat.

    My kids loved Mr. Rogers, I am sure my love for him helped. I remember telling them, like Mr. Rogers used to say–there are just certain things you shouldn’t have to share–things that are very special to you. They each had a stuffed animal or doll that they would say, Mommy and Mr. Rogers say I don’t have to share this with you! Right Mommy.

    I cried the day he died–he had more of an influence in my life than he ever realized–my prayers for him as a daddy brought my father, I am 100% convinced!

    2. My Mom. I think of her every Christmas. She died almost 10 years ago and we still feel like we are pretending without her here.

    3. My husband always, always makes me feel like I can be myself. When I met him I suffered from anorexia (off and on) and he would drive out to my workplace and focre me to eat a burger and fries until I gained some weight. He has always loved me no matter what. He is totally my best friend and can make me laugh in a heartbeat. Not many can say that after 25 years of marriage.

    I will try to continue on with my favorite volunteer things,


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Tracey, that is so sweet. I am glad you were able to have a daddy who cherished you. And yes, I think children need to have one thing uniquely theirs. Not rooms crammed with toys, but one or two special things.

      We never can live up to our moms, but we can create a new presence in our own way, and it will be just as right.

      I am glad your husband helps you to take care of yourself and to laugh. Hugs.


  57. Sherilyn says:

    I don’t think I can cry any harder than the post and the replies have made me cry! All of you have endured so much and yet are so loving and kind! I’m going to answer the questions and retire with my tissues.

    1. Mr. Rogers was not always on where we were stationed, although Captain Kangaroo was. By the time Mr. Rogers was actually part of my neighborhood, I’d outgrown him. He was a large part of my children’s childhoods, though, and his powerful commitment to children always shown like a beacon. The kids in my daughter’s school started a petition to be allowed to watch him at school. Something like 65% of the kids in K-3 signed it, so they got to watch him for a semester. It was a cool school.

    2. I will think of my first grandson, stillborn to my daughter on Nov. 5 three years ago, and my father, whom we lost a month later. And I will think of my second grandson, born to my son seven days after my dad died. He went a long way toward healing the family, a terrible burden for such a little guy. Fortunately, I don’t think he remembers it well, although he is the most sensitive of my grandkids.

    3. My husband comes closest to being okay with me. It’s hard to live with a writer. Y’all are doing a good job as well!

    4. I will continue to keep my family from fracturing. My father was fortunate enough to fall in love again after my mother died. Unfortunately, the two families of adult children have not always played well together. In addition, my father’s family has always bickered viciously after anyone dies. I stay in touch with everyone so that at least once a year, they all have to remember that we are family. I also make an effort to reach out to people who have are dealing with the first holidays after the loss of someone important. This is a hard season to miss someone.

    Thank you, Ana, for creating this haven.


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      How neat about your daughter’s school. I wish more generations of kids could be raised on Mister Rogers.

      How perceptive of you to realize that being the baby born after a grandparent died is both a blessing and a burden, and the expectations that can be placed unknowingly and with every good intention.

      Oh, writers can be the worst! What agony trying to create stories out of nothingness. 🙂

      Trying to play the peacemaker is always hard. You may want to read my recent post about saying good-bye to Superwoman: https://governingana.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/tuesdays-with-ana-saying-goodbye-to-superwoman/

      We can only do as much as we can do, no more.

      Hugs and thank you for helping me to create this haven.


  58. Irishey says:

    Tuesdays with Ana is becoming quite the thing! 😉

    “When I was younger, my church started a tradition called “Blue Christmas”. During the first week or so of December, there would be a special Christmas worship service for anyone for whom Christmas was less than a 100% joyful experience. (Really, isn’t that most of us?)”

    I love that your church did this, Ana. When tragedy strikes near the holidays or other significant dates, especially those celebrated on a national level, it can leave people feeling feeling more bereft than they would be otherwise, because they don’t want to “spoil” everyone else’s festivities by sharing their sorrow. The already sad and hurting often suffer alone, and lonely. How compassionate of you to not only realize that, but to create a post aimed at acknowledging that and encouraging others to be more aware of that possibility in those around them. This post provided a welcoming place where many have shared their own personal losses and feelings about that. I am humbled by the many stories of loss, hope and kindness I have read here in the comments.

    Bas. 🙂 I am here, dear, as promised. Still smiling, still not crying because you left. No, that sheen of moisture in my eyes is reflecting the smile in my heart for having known you. I know you are smiling down on Lisa, Pixel and the rest of your family, and will be laughing as they share memories of Christmases past with you. Love you, Angel Bas. Big hugs, and Merry Christmas!

    Joanne, I am so glad you are found a place here at Ana’s that brings so many smiles to warm your heart during your fresh grief over your mother’s passing. I have to ask, am I correct in deducing from several of your comments, that you believe it will be fun to queue up with the other elves? You DO know what they are in line for? Yes, I am certain you do. I have it on good authority Mrs. Claus knows all about the pain in your heart, and will temper your turn with her accordingly. 😉 Big hugs!

    Q&A Time:

    1. Was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood part of your childhood or your (grand)children’s childhood? What memories do you have?

    I was already in elementary school when Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood came to our neighborhood PBS, but of course I knew who he was, and my younger siblings watched when they were very young. I worked during my children’s early years, but they knew who he was from an early age, so I am certain they watched his program before they entered school.

    My memories of my impressions of him are of a soft-spoken, low-key man who used a gentle approach in his children’s programming. I also remember the melody to his Neighborhood song rattling around in my head, sans lyrics except for, “It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood, la-da-da-da-da-da-da….” It was one of those tunes that infiltrates and sticks with you for hours once it comes to mind. I read this post early this morning, and that tune has been stuck in my head all day, Like right now. Get out of my head! Lol!

    2.Whom will you think of this year during celebrations?

    Far too many relatives and friends who are no longer with us, or who live too far away to join us, or have to be at work and cannot come home for the holidays.

    3. Who makes (or has made) you feel that it’s okay to be who you are?

    I wrote a lengthy post earlier today about all the things mentioned here, much different than what I have written here thus far. I began this particular answer with something to the effect that nobody makes me feel it’s okay to be who I am, that I do that myself. Then I went on to explain in detail. I’ll spare you all the interim pontificating, except to conclude that while that is true, there are a few people who were instrumental in teaching that to me. I’ll give credit here without elaborating about the reasons, as I did before: My mother, grandparents, a few aunts and uncles, various teachers, some special friends and coworkers, my children, and my wonderful D.

    4.How will you be an influence for the good?

    I so want to slide into humor here, much as I respect the tone of this post. (Compose yourself, Irishey. You can tease the corner elves again on another day. This is a serious matter, influencing for the good.) Ahem, right. Well, Ana, actually, I think I’ll continue to do what I do best. I’ll be there to listen, to laugh, to tease, to clean up a mess or handle a crisis, to donate yet another few dozen pencils to the school, to watch the babies when someone can’t afford daycare, to loan out my vehicle when someone’s car breaks down, write a check to pay the electrical bill when someone can’t…

    Today, I’d like to you help me spread some holiday love. Choose one person (you can say who it is or keep it secret) who needs a reminder that he or she is a special, loved, and worthy person. Send a note, pick up the phone, make a visit, buy or make a little gift…whatever you like, but let’s pass along a little love.


    Oh, and I checked out Joey’s link. Cool!


    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      I love that Joey actually took his picture next to a picture of Fred Rogers. 🙂

      What I find most troubling is that sometimes there is a selfish tinge to happiness. I’m happy, so don’t bother me. Don’t make me think about uncomfortable things. I’m happy, so everyone should contribute to my happiness.

      You can be silly whenever you wish. Even serious topics need humor…especially serious topics. 🙂

      Instead, why not look at our happiness as a boost, a resting place, and a refueling so we can go back and be a more compassionate member of our families, neighborhoods, and communities?

      I have shed tears while remembering Bas, but I think he would understand. Sometimes we can’t help it, and the tears remind us of how special he was. It hurts, but it hurts in a good way because his love was so special.

      I will happily donate my turn with Mrs. Claus to Joanne. Out of the goodness of my heart, of course, and pure selfless generosity. 😉

      You are right that feeling okay with ourselves is up to us in the end, but you’re also right that none of us could do it alone.


      • Irishey says:

        I was intrigued by how closely Joey’s hairstyle matches Mister Rogers, but….psssttt, Ana, Joey’s face?!! It’s all sort of…not. No eyes, no nose, mouth. Spooky. I’m impressed.

        The “me happy, you be happy, too” syndrome. Yes, that can be very hurtful to others, disconcerting at best. I’m happy in my bubble. Don’t touch it! Go away! You sad people cannot touch it. It would burst! Of course, the happy people must be careful in how they approach the sad people. Sad people also have bubbles, but happy people believe they have the right – no, they think they are obligated to go pop that sad bubble and bring the sad person out to be happy, too.

        That can come across as very self-absorbed (especially if the person telling you to get over yourself truly is self-absorbed!). I also know some very good-hearted and well-meaning people will tell someone to get over it, in order to “shake” them out of their misery. It’s scary to think a friend or family member might become lost in it. People go into a quasi-panicked “fix it” mode, making such gestures often rushed, ill-timed. Sometimes, we simply must let people withdraw and lick their wounds, indulge in some self-healing, while we watch their backs, feed the fish and mind the store.

        It’s a tricky thing to do, however, balancing compassion and action. Your timing has to be right, or you have to be close enough to the person for them to trust your compassion and know you have their best interests at heart. Even then, such “tough love” gestures often shoot missiles instead of love-fueled “wake up!” arrows to pierce the heart of the recipient. Boom. Not funny.

        Joanne is very fortunate to have found you, Ana. Not everybody would offer to give up her place in line to meet with Mrs. Claus! Unfortunately, that is against the rules. Joanne will have to queue up like every other naughty elf. (Nice try!)

        Nobody should have to go it alone, unless they truly prefer that. There’s always room for one more in blogland!

        Many, many years ago, my mother wrote this on a post-it note and stuck it on her fridge. The bright yellow has paled to barely-there cream color, and the edges are curled from age. The sticky stuff eventually lost all its grip, so the note now rests under a magnet:

        IS A CHOICE”


  59. joeyred51 says:


    I remember Mr. Rogers. My three boys enjoyed watching him. I am honored to be thought of by you as the Mr. Rogers of our little world.

    I think of my grandpa. I am named after him and I loved him very much. BTW. His name is not joey. He was kind and generous and wonderful.

    Terrific post.

    Thank you for being you.



    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      Hugs, Joey, and always it is good to see you. Your photo was a perfect way to end the post.

      I had to giggle about your grandpa not being named Joey. 🙂 I am sure he must have been kind and generous and wonderful because he taught his grandson to be, too.

      Thank you for being you, my dear.


  60. Roz says:

    HI Ana,

    I always enjoy your Tuesday posts, they always give me great food for thought. This is a wonderful post and very sweet of you. A great reminder as we are busy focussing rushing around preparing for Christmas that this time of year is not so joyous for all. I have been thinking that we perhaps need to make the most of our family time together this Christmas because we don’t know how ‘present’ my Mum may be by next Christmas.

    (2) I will be thinking of relatives overseas whom we will not be with at Christmas as well as friends including my blog friends. I will especially be thinking of dear Lisa and her children as they face their first Christmas without Bas.

    (3) I’ve said it many times before, but Rick is my Rock. He understands me, how I tick and always encourages me to ‘be me’ 🙂



    • Anastasia Vitsky says:

      So good to see you, Roz, and I hope that things have settled down for you at least a little. I hope you will be able to enjoy this family time at Christmas and to make the kinds of memories that will be comforting for you in future years.

      I, too, am glad for your Rick and that he supports you.



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