The Twelve Holy Nights: An Introspective Approach

 

Merry Christmas, and a blessed Christmastide to you!  I love the twelve days of Christmas, and hope you will enjoy this introspective approach of using biography to understand yourself as you move into the New Year.  Here are the areas of focus for each of the twelve days:

 

December 25th:  Think about your own birth:  the circumstances, your family, your own physical body as an infant and as a child.  Write down your impressions.  Pick three words that describe your physical body as an infant and child.  Were you frequently sick or robust?  Did you have any physical challenges?

 

December 26th:  Think about the Early Years, ages 0-7.  Did you feel loved and accepted and as if you belonged?  When you think back, what were you like then?  What composed your whole world?  Do you have an early impressions of nature and how that affected you?

 

December 27th:  Think about the years 7-14.  What were your habits, the things you did on a daily basis from what you did when you got up, what you did in the afternoons after school, what you did before you went to bed.  What did you do every week on certain days of the week?  How did that shape you?  Does it continue to impact you now?

 

December 28th:  Think about the years 14-21.  What were the things you loved, what was most important to you?  What did you dislike?  Are the things that were important then still important now or has that totally changed?

 

December 29th:  Think about the years 21-28 of your life.  What things do you see happening that were the complete hand of God, your destiny?  Relationships, people, births and deaths, things that changed your life and who you were forever?

 

December 30th:  Think about the years 28-35.   Read this back post: 

Can you draw yourself at this age and the things in your life at this point?  Did you have a significant experience at the age of 33 or so?

 

December 31st:  Think about the years  35 – 42 if you are there!  What was most important from this period to you? 

 

January 1st:  Think about the years 42-49 if you are there.  What do you have to bring outward into the world during this phase?  What is it you are passionate about?  What will you do with your passions this year?

 

January 2nd: Pick one of the seven year time periods that really speaks to you from your life.  Draw it.  Get together with a friend and draw those time periods together.  Explain your life during that time period to your friend.

 

January 3rd:  Think about yourself as a physical entity.  What do you need to do to nurture your physical body this year?  What would be helpful?  How could you make this happen?

 

January 4th: Think about yourself and the habits and rhythms you create for yourself. If you keep journals, look back through the past years.  What months are you tired?  What months do you feel most energized?  Are you an early or late riser?  What days of the week do you like best and feel most productive?  Are there any rhythms that you should be setting in place for you or your family members so that everyone is happier?  Is life simple or busy?  Do your rhythms support you, or deplete you?  What could you change to make this a simpler and more peaceful year?

 

January 5th:  Think about what you love.  Name those things.  Name passions you have in books, music, subjects, knowledge.  Are you nurturing those passions?  Are your interests changing?  Name one thing you would like to deepen your knowledge of this year.

 

January 6th:  How can you nurture your spiritual and yes, your religious side? Do you have a religious community? Do you have any kind of community outside of the four walls of your home?  We were made to be in community with one another.  How will you nurture community this year?

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

Favorite Last Minute Gifts to Make

It is almost down to Christmas Eve, and many of you would love some ideas for a few last minute gifts that are quick and easy to make.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Peppermint Bark:  You will need a bag of milk chocolate chocolate chips, a bag of white chocolate chips, peppermint extract and about four or five regular sized organic candy canes if you can find organic.  Unwrap the candy canes and put them in a ziploc bag before you start – crush them with a rolling pin.   Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with a lid with parchment paper or wax paper.  Spread the milk chocolate chocolate chips in an even layer in the pan and put in oven until soft enough to spread with a spatula (about five to ten minutes, watch them carefully!).  Put in the refrigerator to cool for about twenty minutes.  Melt the white chocolate chips in a double boiler (you may need a teaspoon of canola oil to make the white chocolate chips spreadable), stir in about 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract and  some of the  candy cane pieces.  Spread over the milk chocolate layer, sprinkle the rest of the candy cane pieces on top and put in the refrigerator to cool.  Break into uneven pieces and package for friends you love.

If you have a dehydrator (and I bought a nice one used), you could make grain free granola or coconut macaroons. Both make fabulous gifts!  For my grain-free granola, I take an apple and mix it with about a cup and a half of dates in a food processor, then add salt, cinnamon, orange zest and the juice of a lemon.  Then I take pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds that have been pulsed in a food processor, mix them with the apple-date mixture and stir in a cup of dried cranberries.  This can be dehydrated for about 8 hours and then packaged.

Easy to package is to make savory salt.  This salt is divine on brown rice.  There are many recipes on the Internet.  The other easy last minute gift is bath salts.

Please share your favorite last-minute gifts below!

Many blessings, happy merriment,

Carrie

Ideas For The Fourth Week Of Advent

Such a short time, this fourth week of Advent, this year!  Therefore, here are just a few very simple ideas for this special time:

Read the story of “The Greedy Woman”  from “Hark! A Christmas Sampler” by Jane Yolen and Tomie dePaola.  This tale is best suited for ages 7 and up.

Here is another tale to try, this one is regarding Saint Francis and the first Christmas at Greccio:  http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=smithe&book=christmas&story=greccio.  This would be a lovely story for eight year olds in the midst of second grade on up.

Make Gingerbread People.  Here is Martha Stewart’s gingerbread recipe:  http://www.marthastewart.com/336115/gingerbread-people

And, on Christmas Eve Day, won’t you consider making several stars to light the way of the Christ Child?  Here is a wonderful tutorial from Sarah Baldwin of Bella Luna Toys:

http://blog.bellalunatoys.com/2012/how-to-make-waldorf-paper-window-stars.html

Some countries also use this day to commemorate “Adam and Eve” and place red apples in the branches of their Christmas tree in order to remember.  Bread decorations are also sometimes made and used as a sign of redemption.

And here is the “To Do Ahead!”  Continue reading

Ideas For The Third Week of Advent

This is the third week of Advent; for some Christian denominations this is the week the rose candle of “joy” is lit on the Advent Wreath.  What brings you joy?  The true mark of being a Waldorf parent, and also being a spiritual person,  is joy and contentment.  Are you reflecting this to yourself and to the world?  What would help you do this?

This week also finds many of us in the Anglican Communion observing Ember Days on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of this week. You can see  more information about that here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ember_days

I am sharing a few of my simple plans for this week.  As we get closer to Christmas, a beautiful Feast day, I try to pare things down as much as I can and enjoy the time I have with my family in simplicity.  Here are a few of the things nourishing me this week, a week where we look closer at our animal friends awaiting the love and joy that is coming to Earth.

Sunday, December 16th:  Church; our oldest child is singing at our evening Mass that is an entire Mass of “Lessons and Carols”…a favorite out of the whole year!

Monday, December 17th:  Make treats for our feathered friends; read “The Legend of The Birds” – found in “Hark!  A Christmas Sampler” by Jane Yolen and Tomie dePaola

Tuesday, December 18th:  Continue reading

Favorite Posts of The Week

I have rounded up some wonderful, wonderful posts for you to read today.

First of all, yay for Kara for being back at Rockin’ Granola.  This post is just wonderful and you must go read it right away.  I have been married almost twenty one years, and this one is so right on:  http://www.rockingranola.com/2012/12/baby-our-love-song-must-survive.html

Are you searching for lovely Santa Lucia stories to tuck away for next year?  There is one here on The Parenting Passageway, and here is another one over at Bending Birches:  http://bendingbirches2010.blogspot.com/2012/12/embracing-lightand-our-time.html Continue reading

Ideas For The Second Week of Advent

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

Favorite Stories For Saint Nicholas

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

Fairy Tales

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.”

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10811968/Stories/King%20Winter%2C%20Mother%20Holle%20and%20the%20Snow%20Maiden.pdf

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

Celebrating The First Week of Advent

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

Linky Love

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

Ideas to Celebrate Christmastide

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