My parents sent me to Sunday School and Calvinettes,
as a way for me to socialize with other kids.
In a small town with 5 churches,
you go where the people are.

Calvinettes was a church group for girls.
I went for the crafts and the snacks.
To me, churches were for weddings
and funerals.

We met once a week
at the Christian Reformed Church.
I remember dark winter nights
when the small parking lot
was filled with the headlights of idling cars.
Parents were dropping off girls in blue wrap-around skirts,
white blouses, and Calvinette scarves.

The scarves were folded carefully
into a triangle and draped across our shoulders like a shawl,
held together at the front
with a blue leather calvinettes tie
(where you would tuck the ends of your scarf through it).

We wore white capes
that were covered in badges
proudly earned.

For me, the highlight of the night
was snack time.
We each took turns
bringing a snack
that our mothers had made.

Special bars,
and whoopie pies.

We would line up
waiting patiently
for our turn to pick out
a special treat.

I remember one particular night
where a little redhead (me)
decided to play with fire.

I remember Anita Veltman.
She was one of the big kids
and she liked snack time too.

I was always trying to entertain others,
perhaps my way of trying to fit in.
And on this particular night,
I decided
that I was going to butt in line
in front of Anita Veltman.

I don’t know if I was egged on
or if I thought it would be funny,
but it happened nonetheless.

Looking back at my friends
with a sly smile on my face,
I pretended to talk to someone
who was standing in line next to
Anita Veltman.
Then I casually slid in front of her.

My presence was welcomed
with her large hands placed under my small armpits.
She quickly tossed me
out of the line.

I didn’t try it again.
There were rules in snack line.



This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.



I remember singing songs in the church.
We would stand on a stage
facing our empty congregation.
Row after row of long wooden pews sat before us.
We practiced songs
that I don’t remember singing
to an actual audience.
(Although we must have at some point.)

It was cool and echo-y in there,
with narrow arched windows.
It was a foreign place
to me.

I remember that this time spent singing
was an opportunity to entertain the other girls,
Especially during The Tree Song.

I had my favourite lines –
The ones where I made up my own actions
when our leader wasn’t looking
just to make the other girls giggle.

It went something like this…

I am shade from the hot summer sun down
I swayed back and forth with the other girls,
our arms held high above our heads
mimicking tree branches providing shade below.
I took it a step further and wrinkled my face in disgust,
pretending to be grossed out as I turned my face towards
my imaginary smelly armpits.

I am nest for the birds of the heaven
I obediently cupped my hands
into the shape of a nest
and then tipped it over
to dump out the pretend bird.

I’m becoming what the lord of trees has meant me to be…
I dramatically raised my pointer finger up to the sky with authority
and on the way up
made sure that it brushed along the outside of my nose
to make it look like I was picking my nose
to the girls farther down the row.

…a strong young tree.
A row of dainty little girls
in their pressed white blouses and blue cotton skirts
flexed muscles that didn’t exist.
We lifted both arms up to our sides in a flex.
I, on the other hand, took the opportunity
to quickly flex like Arnold Schwarzenegger
with arms down and flexed into a circle in front of me.

That was Lainie.
It still is 🙂


He’s got the whole world in his hands,

He’s got the whole wide world in his hands,

He’s got the whole world in his hands,

He’s got the whole world in his hands.


He’s got everybody here in his hands…



I found my old Calvinette scarf at home this past Christmas.  Mom had tucked it away for me in our family’s hope chest – a place where we keep little mementos.

I’m not sure what all of the badges represent.  Based on the images, here are a few guesses: babysitting, baking, photography, camping, reading, knitting, stamp collecting, gardening, music,  biking…

What instantly stood out to me?  Many of the interests that I had as an eight year old are still true today.  I like to make things. I like to read. And I like to collect stuff. It’s amazing how our sense of self is already beginning to take shape at such an early age.

Do you remember what you loved as a kid?  Would you say that it’s still true?

If you have girl or boy scout badges tucked away somewhere, you should take a look!  It’s neat to see what we were interested in back then and whether is still holds true.



A text message conversation with my mom this week:
Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 2.11.16 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 2.11.38 PM.png


(Helen was one of our Calvinette leaders).


a day later…

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 2.12.34 PM.png

I can’t wait!  I’d love to get my hands on one of the old handbooks. And if she has pictures, that would be waaaay too funny. I’ll keep you posted!

2 Replies to “Calvinettes.”

  1. Funny, I googled Calvinettes looking for descriptions of the badges and what we had to do to earn them. Do you remember the theme song? “Oh Calvinettes march forward, march bravely to the strife// the Lord will ever guide you, oh, let him rule your life.// In church, in home in school (which we pronounced as two syllables – schoo well), in worship work and play//The Lord your strength and savior your will lead you every day.” I’m weak on that last line. But can you imagine a battalion of 3rd grade girls in skirts and blouses marching bravely to the strife?

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