Happy Santa Lucia Day!

 

I love this day and hope everyone is having a wonderful day curled up with hot cocoa and lussekatter!

 

Please don’t forget the wonderful free stories that are out there by my friend, the wonderful Master teacher and writer Christine Natale:  https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/10811968/Stories/A%20Little%20Story%20for%20Saint%20Lucy’s%20Day%20-%20December%2013.pdf

 

There is also a gentle and sweet tale about St. Lucy right here on The Parenting Passageway for free:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/12/14/guest-post-a-gentle-santa-lucia-story-by-tiziana-boccaletti/

 

Here is a post with quite a few links in it regarding crafts and songs and traditions:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/12/08/more-about-celebrating-santa-lucia-day-in-the-waldorf-home/

 

One of my favorite books for this day is “Lucia:  Saint of Light” by Katherine Bolger Hyde.  It combines the traditions of Santa Lucia from a Swedish perspective mixed with the main stories we have heard regarding Santa Lucia and includes a recipe for lussekatter.  Here is the cover: 

 

 

Have a wonderful, warm day!

Blessings,
Carrie

Dealing With The Christmas Crazies!

 

The Christmas (and other holiday) Crazies are here!  Children everywhere are so excited with the season, and everywhere parents and teachers are emailing that their children’s behavior is off the top crazy!

 

Well, I love the Christmas crazies in one sense.  I mean, think back carefully when you were a child and how you LOVED the holidays.  Remember the anticipation, the waiting, the magic of the holidays?  The feeling that Christmas would never come?  How about funny stories and crazy fun things?   I remember my father telling me about his German aunts who started baking in early November for Christmas. They stored millions of dozens of Christmas cookies under their beds and all the children in the family would sneak in and eat the baking for several months before Christmas appeared! Or how about my own daughter and her cousin, who, two years ago, woke up at 3:30 in the morning wild and ready for breakfast and gift giving?

 

I am sure you have your own version of the Christmas crazies from your family – leave your funny story in the comment box so we can laugh with you!

 

But on a serious note, sometimes the adults getting ready for the holidays feel anxious and stressed.  People write to me about this topic and I think probably would like to hear something other than “embrace the crazy and have FUN!”….So here are a few brief thoughts:

 

Leave time and space for the fun.  Leave time and space to be outside a lot to work off energy, try to keep your food not completely off kilter, and again,  work off the energy.  Those of you in colder climates are so fortunate  really.  I remember ice skating on ponds, skiing, and cross country skiing as a child. And hours playing in the snow and sledding, and yes, shoveling, and carrying and stacking firewood.  Lots of time to work and play!  And those of you in warm climates, you have the beach and the waves and the sand and surf. Fun!

Do a little planning.  If you have traveling to do, making sure you have a bag full of activities and parent-approved whole foods often goes a long way.  Some of my favorite things for longer trips include beeswax modeling, pipe cleaners, stickers for putting on paper, telling stories, playing “I-Spy” and other games.  Long car rides are great for singing!  Have some little projects for around the house. If baking or whatever project you want to do is too much with multiple young children and ends in tears, give yourself permission to NOT do it.  Do it in a few years.  It will be better, and find something you can all do and enjoy together now.

Keep the schedule as low-key as you can.  Remember the time and space rule. With small children you are probably not going to be able to do everything you want to do.  Pick what is fun that you can all do together and forget the rest.  Simple is best, and less is more.

Find your sense of humor.  Some of the things that can be so irritating in the moment will truly be funny ten years from now, and provide stories to tell your grown children and grandchildren. If everything went smoothly, eh, what would there be to tell?

Yes, traditions are lovely, but they can be flexible, they can change as your children grow.  Some years just call for simple and that is okay!  And you don’t need a thousand traditions to make a holiday!  Just a few will do.  Smile

 

Please share your favorite funny stories, and your favorite and most loved traditions!

Love and hugs,

Carrie

Holiday Gifts and The Sense of Touch

This can be the time of year that many Waldorf families dread in that the gadgets and plastic toys that many families do not value seems to come out in full force this time of year for children of all ages.  I am sure many of you have seen the horrible bouncy seat with an iPad holder currently on the market, and it certainly doesn’t get that better from there.  (See here for more about the bouncy seat atrocity:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/melissa-sher/an-open-letter-to-the-executives-at-fisher-price_b_4386165.html   )

For many of us, the thought of receiving gifts, especially for our children, revolves around questions such as is it sustainable in how it is made, is it beautiful and lovely, will it nourish our children? And yes, will it be fun?  And other questions, such as, how many gifts do children really need and isn’t this season more about giving than receiving?  All good thoughts.

However, for  many of our family members and friends who are not used to this line of questioning, perhaps they are asking things more like:  is this the “hot” toy of the year, will the child be totally wowed by this “over the top” gift, is it electronic and perhaps therefore more “educational” and therefore can it be viewed as an “advantage” for children?

In the Waldorf community, we often look to toys that are homemade by ourselves or by others on places such as Etsy (see this back post with the Etsy sellers my readers love most here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/12/06/link-to-your-favorite-etsy-sellers-here/)  because these types of products not only positively and affirmatively answer some of the questions poised by parents above, but also promote the foundational development of one of the most important senses a human being can develop:  the sense of touch.  Barbara Patterson and Pamela Bradley write in their book “Beyond the Rainbow Bridge:  Nurturing Our Children From Birth to Seven”:  “What children touch and what touches them is important.  In a Waldorf early childhood program, toys are made of natural materials, such as wool, cotton, wood and silk.  Each of these has something unique to teach to children about the world around them.”  In contrast, this article traces the development of commercial toys:  http://www.mothering.com/community/a/no-more-junk-toys-rethinking-childrens-gifts

However, I also urge you in thinking about the sense of touch to think about the touch of the person who loves your child and is giving your child this gift.  If this gift was given out of love to your child, there is an energy and love there that helps transcend the lack of natural materials at times.  It is something to think about, because an essential part of Waldorf parenting and education is the thought that gratitude in the early years leads to love in the middle years of ages 7 through 14 and then to the child feeling  a duty to humanity in the ages 14 to 21 as they go out to meet the world.  How important it is to look behind the silk playcloths and wooden toys at ourselves and what we are modeling and how we truly feel.  Can we be gracious, can we have gratitude?  Perhaps that is the biggest gift of all to show our children in this season.

Many parents write to me that their family is not really giving out of a loving, well-meaning but not knowing sort of  gesture, but rather one of wanting to contradict the parents and the values set by the parents despite repeated discussion and conversation.  It is hard Continue reading

The First Week of Advent – 2013

The first Sunday of Advent, and the first week of Advent, always seems to sneak up on me each year.  I give myself permission for it not to be perfect, to be a little on “island time”, so to speak, and to jump in when I can.  I like to think not only of the beautiful fun, the “outer” trappings of Advent if you will,  but also the “inner” strings that vibrate and hum and hold this season together, and the fasting that many of us do in spirit (and in flesh) to lead into Advent.  In our homes, it begins with us.

The Inner Strings:

This is the first week of Advent, and I have some beautiful things to share with you.  My father-in-law is a priest of many years, and he is working with this beautiful early Irish confession for this week.  I have taken this confession up in turn, and it may resonate with those of you who are including fasting as part of your Advent practice:

Jesus, forgive my sins.

Forgive the sins that I can remember and the sins I have forgotten.

Forgive the wrong actions I have committed, and the right actions I have omitted.

Forgive the times I have been weak in the face of temptation, and those when I have been stubborn in the face of correction.

Forgive the times I have been proud of my own achievements, and those when I failed to boast of your works.

Forgive the harsh judgments I have made of others, and the leniency I have shown to myself.

Forgive the lies I have told to others, and the truths I have avoided.

Forgive the pain I have caused others, and the indulgence I have shown to myself.

Jesus have pity on me, and make me whole.  Amen.

(This, is, of course, the confession before the Peace in a Divine Liturgy, and before the Eucharist that brings “heaven intertwined with earth” where we take the Divine Life inside ourselves…I just want to point out the beautiful circle of joy that is within the church and Advent, lest this confession sound without hope by itself.  Advent, is after all, joy and hope and abiding.  All of these things!)

May we be wakeful at sunrise to begin a new day for you,

Cheerful at sunset for having done our work for you,

Thankful at moonrise and under starshine for the beauty of your universe;

And may we add what little may be in us to add to your great world.  — The Abbot of Grace

The Fast:

May we fast from the rampant commercialism of this time of year, Continue reading

Thanksgiving Every Day

(I was off celebrating a day of gratitude out of town, and this didn’t get published on Thanksgiving.  However, I think these thoughts about gratitude and Thanksgiving every day.  Many blessings to you all as we move into this season of light and love and gratitude for each other!)

In the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a day of feasting and hopefully a day of warmth and intimacy with our dearest family, friends and neighbors.  Sometimes people joke about Thanksgiving being a time of gathering with dysfunctional family members.  However, it can be a time of true intimacy and meaning if you make it so.

Part of gratitude comes first from within us and how we perceive our world.  Energy begets energy, kindness begets kindness, love begets love.  How we deal with the polarizing forces of love and hate, kindness and cruelty, gratitude and thanklessness and indifference, is up to us.

Gratitude comes out in the actions we model ourselves for our children.  This Thanksgiving holiday, bring along a sweet story basket and offer to  tell Continue reading