The second week of Advent is upon us; perhaps we are fasting and praying in accordance with our religious traditions of Advent being a small Lent. Perhaps we are feeling weary from having a holiday season that is moving rather fast; the fatigue that comes from trying to create perfect holiday memories for the children or the fatigue of spending.
I invite you this week to go back to the true meaning of Advent. Perhaps this is the week you really think heartily about that question that truly seems to afflict first-world citizens more than others: how much do we really need to “get”? What are we giving? How much do our children really “need”? Is that what they are going to associate this season with – getting?
Staring new traditions can be difficult. I was reading the post on gratitude the other day on the blog A Holy Experience and how they exchange no gifts at all and instead choose gifts from catalogues designed to help others – giving the gifts of animals, trees, seeds, bees. If you are thinking about new traditions, I don’t think it is ever too late to start. I saw this post on Simple Mom regarding supporting mothers in need for the holidays here: http://simplemom.net/csp/ Perhaps a tradition along these lines will be of interest to your family.
Here are some nourishing ideas for this second week of Advent. Continue reading
Saint Nicholas Day is fast approaching, and I wanted to highlight some of my very favorite Saint Nicholas books!
First of all, here is a series of stories you can tell starting on December 1st written by Christine Natale, esteemed Waldorf teacher and available for free at the St. Nicholas Center. Here is Day One: http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/waldorf-1/. You can enjoy more of Christine’s seasonal tales in her fairy tale collection here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0557591317/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=stnicholcente-20&link_code=as3&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=0557591317
And, as a special treat, Christine left a comment below with a special offer. She writes:
“As a special gift, I would like to share with your readers a Winter story that I wrote last year. It is not in the collection mentioned above, but will be in any future editions. Here is a link to the story in PDF format to download. The illustration is by Josephine Wall and I do not have permission to use it, but I think it is ok to share among friends.”
She also makes great points below about the more common legends of Saint Nicholas and the Waldorf curriculum. See the comment box below!
Here are a few other tales and some comments:
This is one of the best St. Nicholas books for children Early Years through about first or second grade, and then just as an enjoyable read-aloud for the whole family: Continue reading
The first light of Advent is the light of stone–.
Stones that live in crystals, seashells, and bones.
The second light of Advent is the light of plants–
Plants that reach up to the sun and in the breezes dance.
The third light of Advent is the light of beasts–
All await the birth, from the greatest and in least.
The fourth light of Advent is the light of humankind–
The light of hope that we may learn to love and understand. - attributed to R. Steiner or to an anonymous author
That beautiful season of waiting and anticipation is here, and I love the slowing down and stillness that occurs during Advent. In a season full of often materialistic bigger and over the top, we have a chance to wait the coming of Christ with a realization of our own frailness, and the time to search for own epiphany of what God can do everyday with the ordinary, with the small, with the weak, with the impossible. It is a season which demands our attention, our watchfulness, and our slowing down to really be present with our children and families.
Celebrating festivals often starts simply, and traditions deepen over time as the children and the family unit and family culture grows. Each year layers upon the next, and it is never too late to begin. Continue reading
Kara over at Rockin’ Granola is dreaming up some change: http://www.rockingranola.com/2012/10/dreaming-new-dreams.html#disqus_thread
I will miss Kara’s blogging whilst she is gone; I have always loved Rockin’ Granola
I see Annette has a Martinmas book out here: http://ourseasonsofjoy.com/seasons-of-joy/martinmas-round-up/ and don’t forget Waldorf Wednesdays! http://ourseasonsofjoy.com/seasons-of-joy/waldorf-wednesday-11/ Continue reading
This post today celebrates some of the traditional ways Christmastide has been celebrated with the Christian faith. Therefore, many of these ideas may be familiar to many of my Christian readers, but I think there are many things to sort through and use to celebrate the Twelve Holy Nights even if you are not Christian and would just like to mark this special time. These can be peaceful and holy days, truly to slow down, to fast from media and screens and to enjoy the simple pleasures marked the traditions of the Church.
Here is a small guide toward helping families enjoy each day of Christmastide, and I do so hope you will leave your favorite traditions in the comment box as well!
Saturday, December 24th - Since the Feast of the Nativity truly begins on Christmas Eve, attending liturgy is a priority for this night! In the hustle and bustle that can often accompany this day before Christmas, making time for quiet prayer is a powerful example of showing our children that God is with us should we choose to acknowledge Him, find Him, adore Him. God is with us, and with His smallest creatures. In Scandinavian countries, it is traditional to put sheaves of wheat for the birds. Children will enjoy taking time on this day to decorate an outside tree for the birds by stringing popcorn or making the traditional pine cone bird feeder of peanut butter rolled in birdseed.
Sunday, December 25th– Christmas Day, the first of the twelve holy days, is a wonderful time to take an afternoon walk and see God’s creation, and also to read from The Gospel of Saint Luke. Old-fashioned board games are another suggestion for celebrating the Christmas afternoon in family togetherness.
Another suggestion that some Christian families have tried with success is to spread gift-giving throughout the twelve days of Christmas so that not every gift is opened on Christmas morning.
Monday, December 26th- The Feast of St. Stephen – Continue reading
This is such a special time of year for me. As a Christian, the season of Christmas starts on Christmas Day and extends through January 5th, and then we move into the season of Epiphany. This time of year, for me, is one of the major times of the year when I am off the computer, I spend more time thinking and dreaming and planning. I spend time connecting with what vision I want to create for the coming year, and spend lots of time with family and friends and being outside in nature. It is lovely.
In the past, I have chosen a focus of inner work personal to me, much like what Lynn Jericho does, to work really work off an inspiration for these twelve holy days. In the past I have worked with being easy with myself, one year I worked with “letting go”, one year I worked with love, one year I worked with “no comment”. This year, I have been feeling especially inspired by this passage from Brother Victor-Antoine D’avila-LaTourrette in the book, “A Monastery Journey to Christmas”, which runs through Candlemas on February 2nd: “We can only find peace and calmness within the confines of our own selves. Inner peace is a gift from the Lord. Let us beseech him day and night for his gift. And let us help him by cultivating actively all those things that lead to inner peace. Like the angels on that first Christmas night, let us pray and work for peace on earth.” How can I be a part of peace this year – peace in my heart, peace in my home, peace in my community, peace in the world?
There are some resources out there to help you celebrate the Holy Nights. Continue reading
There was a gentle Santa Lucia story by Tiziana Boccaletti on the Our Little Nature Nest blog. Since that blog has been taken private, I asked Tiziana if she would be willing to share this sweet Santa Lucia story here so families could find and share it with their own loved ones. Tiziana generously agreed, and here is her story: Continue reading
In our family, I love when the shopping part of the few things to buy is done and we can focus on making some handmade gifts! Don’t you love that too?
Here is what we are making….. Continue reading
Some of you have asked for very simple plans regarding Advent. I thought I would share the very simple things my family and I are doing each week. Some things are geared toward the youngest members of the family, and some are not. You can just pick and choose and take what resonates with you out of this as a good match for your family!
Throughout Advent, I will be using this book for my own meditation:http://www.amazon.com/Monastery-Journey-Christmas-Victor-Antoine-DAvila-Latourrette/dp/0764820818 and for the children we will read the Gospel portion of the day’s lectionary out loud. I am also working through the Book of Isaiah on my own.
I think the main thing to keep in mind is that Advent is a time to slow down, and just enjoy each other, to pray, to fast, to repent, to prepare – so if having a list like the following pressures you or makes you feel not happy inside, then don’t do it or again, pick and choose for your own family what is best.
These are some of my ideas for this week; we may not do them all at all! Continue reading
It is Thanksgiving today in the United States. Instead of ringing in Thanksgiving in my nice cozy bed, I find myself awake and contemplating gratitude. How can I bring an attitude of gratitude to my family and my home today and every day?
I was thinking about words…sometimes in the heat of the moment, in a time of tension or even just in a time of minor irritation, words come out that no one really means. Adults apologize, and yet those words can enter the soul and wound. I have met many emotionally wounded people in this past month and so much of it caused by words…I was thinking today how I would like to step up the vigilance I place on the words I choose and use. This thought of being present with a smile, a nod, a reassuring pat, of not offering advice unless asked, the thought of always having an encouraging word to say…and showing my gratitude through the words I do choose.
You are wonderful. I love you.
You are terrific.
I couldn’t do this without you!
I love this moment with you.
I am thankful to have you in my life.
I was thinking about showing gratitude through warmth…the emotional warmth that comes from being loved. Continue reading