What does a homeschool Christmas party look like? Eli is pictured above decorating cookies, happy as a lark, as always. We had vegan, mainly raw pot-luck, and exchanged handmade gifts. The kids exchanged things like sock puppets (see below), hand dyed juggling silks, apple sauce and cinnamon ornaments, and imaginative "generators" while the moms got "bath snow" and handmade jewelry. We then participated as families in an advent spiral.
The boys built in trees...
Even though we are nowhere near 100% Waldorf (more on that later), I did enjoy this quiet, reflective ceremony. The kids walked with an apple candle holder to the center of the spiral and lit their candle from the one burning in the center (hand-made by yours truly :)) . They then placed the lit candles on a stone along the spiral on the way out. I walked with both of my boys. I suggested they think about God, our blessings, what they are thankful for, and the reason we celebrate Christmas. They were probably focused on the fire that they were wielding, but I was thankful for the time outdoors, fresh air, and quiet contemplativeness of the usually wild ones.
Please, allow me to start with what we haven't done. We missed the live nativity at our church. We skipped the Murfreesboro Christmas parade. I have forgotten to do each day the advent calendar. And, gasp, we haven't take the kids to speak to Santa. The kicker is I don't even have a "job". We don't watch TV or sleep much, so what pray tell, can catch us 9 days from Christmas without these tasks completed?
Argggg, we have been making gifts. We have been visiting friends and relatives. We did at least learn how the rich folk celebrated Christmas past..
We made ornaments..
We've hunkered in the shred of sunlight that we've been able to capture. We even played outside with windows open one day last week.
We talked Bubba into a piano for Christmas..
We used our imagination..
And made sock puppets for our friends..
We've admired our ornaments and lights.. We've used the boys art work and old atlases to wrap presents. We mailed Christmas cards that have been reused. (I love the art of letter writing, and am lucky to have a store of stationary and cards from my grandmother that she collected from garage sales..) We still have to drag Evan to see the lights around town; hope we don't miss them.., celebrate with friends, go to church with family, and exchange gifts with loved ones, so I'm not, as Eli would say, bah-hum-bug...
So, I've mentioned "the mamas" before, but I must say that today, again, I am reminded of how much I love them. We do a "Secret Santa" thing, but the gifts must be handmade. My secret Santa this year was the lovely and talented Rowena. I am so touched be her gifts that I needed to publicly brag a bit on her. Hand knit cap and mittens, an heirloom Christmas Cactus, a handmade beet (you had to be there ;), canned mango (yum), and a great picture of the boys with a quote from Bobby D. I also got to share a cup of coffee with her this morning, and she and Ella charm my shorts off. Thank you so much ladies. I will treasure your gifts always.
Who is that masked man?? Ollie came bursting out of his room this week during a co-op sporting this get-up. He insisted on wearing out and about later in the day!
Merry Christmas! We are in full swing around here, and we finally hunted and chopped the best tree in the woods.
The Discovery Center has a fantastic new environmental exhibit about which I am over the moon.
Here Ollie is figuring out how the piping works in a house. He was also able to put up the insulation and the siding.
And, Pumps is shown above pondering the route of rainwater into a rain barrel.
At a different co-op this week we explored Hanukkah, it's symbols, and history.
Below, they are spinning the dradle.
And, it snowed here this week! I did not get a great snap shot as my camera is on the fritz (boo-hissss).
We ARE in the Christmas spirit, and as of late, I have been pondering what that means to me. I have wrestled with poor Santa, and have decide on a guilt free, pretend, imagination approach. If Ollie figures it out, I will not lie to his face, but I will continue to pretend, as we pretend about many things: Star Wars, magic, hour long episodes of "store." I am pretty sure he suspects..On last years note from Santa, he told the boys that he brought them presents only as a symbol and reminder of God's great gift to us and God's love. I know also that this is not the exact date of Jesus' birth, but have decided that it is okay with me to celebrate that great gift anyway. More than anything, more than historical accurateness or full blown commercialism, we celebrate tradition and family. We snuggle in away from the cold and reflect on our blessings. We think of ways to make other people happy. We laugh about our own family history, and get misty eyed about Christmases past. Each ornament we pull out of the box, standing under the mistle toe with a three year old, preparing to travel to Grandparents homes, and spending time on making our home feel warm and cozy: these are what it is about for me. I can take or leave Santa and store bought gifts, I could even take or leave the church going part, but the family and tradition, I could not do without, and all of these parts go hand in hand, and I am happy to embrace it all.
Okay, and while I'm at it, I have another. I am going to try to be careful here, because I don't want to make things awkward or weird when we visit others homes or they come here. And, I am sure I will inevitably eat my words or change my mind.
As homeschoolers, the play date is an integral part of our socialization. It is something that we love and live for. All of us. What I'd like to do is start a revolution to create change. I am calling for an end to the after-play- date- clean-up. Trust me, this is not because I'm lazy or want to train my kids to be, but inevitably, I find mothers in parts of my house, awkwardly putting toys on shelves while demanding that their children "help" when all along I sense they are more than ready to walk out of the door. And the truth is, we have spots for those toys and at some point will go back through and semi-organize them. Now, again, I appreciate this effort so much, but it is very unnecessary. When we invite quests over, we assume that we will have to clean up a bit when everyone clears out. The same goes for us visiting. This week, we left before any other kids, and I personally saw a group of children dump boxes of toys out that mine were not involved in. I felt awkward when we left because the kids weren't finished playing, my kids didn't play with the toys in the messy room, and we were pressed for time. But, at the same time, I felt embarrassed and guilty as we left as if we didn't fulfill some sort of unspoken mom rule..Tough call..In the end, I don't want the kids to tear the house apart and not demonstrate basic respect and kindness, but on the other, what is the protocol and necessity for clean-up? When you come to my place, don't worry your pretty little head 'bout a thing..
I have been meaning to tell you, I have a phrase that is a pet peeve. One that I rarely say, and hate when I do..I know you've said it, but to what end? The phrase, "Be careful." I know that it is instinct. I know that it is reflexive. But, really, what does it achieve except eye rolling and risky behavior. I try to back off, to adopt the "that'll learn 'em" stance. I really think at times this makes other parents uncomfortable, and I've even heard them suck in through their teeth and throw it out there in place of my obviously neglectful parenting style... My kids even say it for me sometimes confidently "I'm being careful, mom." I choose for now to be more specific when the kids are in danger of harm, like "if you try to balance on that twig across those two cinder blocks, it's liable to hurt you." Or, even asking, "what do you think will happen if you keep swinging that sword around your head?" I know my way is wordier, but I will continue to be irked on the playground by repetitive shrieks of "BE CAREFUL!"