A Waldorf View of Thanksgiving

“For most American households the Thanksgiving celebration has lost much of its original significance.  We can remediate the consumer holiday it has become by creating a Thanksgiving gathering and feast in kindergarten for the children and their families, where we give a living example of gratitude and joy for what we have and what we can share together.” – “Celebrating Festivals With Children” by Freya Jaffke

We begin sowing the seeds for Thanksgiving celebration by the observation of all the reverent moments that make up our very ordinary days throughout the entire year.  Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate the harvest being in, and this has been done in different varying festivals since ancient times.  The American Thanksgiving is just one festival of many that exemplifies the manifestation of the harvest as a culmination of the gratitude and reverence we share throughout the year with our children.

Thanksgiving is one of America’s oldest festivals, and one of ten federal holidays declared by the United States Congress.  Although schoolchildren often trace it back to the Pilgrims and a harvest gathering, the first national observation of Thanksgiving was actually proclaimed by President George Washington in 1789.  Thanksgiving was celebrated  erratically after this date by individual states and at different times, and Sarah Hale, editor of the Boston Ladies Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Book, championed the idea of having a national day of Thanksgiving for nearly 15 years before Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in the month of November in 1863.   You can read Lincoln’s proclamation here.   It actually took until 1941, when Thanksgiving was proclaimed a national holiday by the United States Congress, to arrive at its current date of the fourth Thursday of each November.

Simple tasks that we can undertake for this festival with small children  include Continue reading

Time of Lanterns


This time of Halloween/All Saints Day/All Souls Day and leading into Martinmas leads me to think about light and lanterns.  There is a passage from the book “Celebrating Festivals With Children” by Freya Jaffke that I like regarding “Lantern Time”:

“Two lantern festivals mark this time.  From the Celtic tradition there is Halloween on October 31, and from Continental Europe we have Martinmas on November 11.  Halloween is connected with the earth, and its turnip or pumpkin lanterns are made of fruits from the ground.  Martinmas commemorates a human deed of sharing, and its paper lanterns are entirely made by human hand.  As the outer light of day diminishes, there is first a kind of afterglow of e earth – the turnip or pumpkin lanterns.  Then there is the human spark of kindness we see in the paper lanterns of Martinmas.  The light is gradually transformed from the outer light of the sun in summer to the internal spirit light of Advent and Christmas.”

This is a wonderful time of year to think about any changes in rhythm that you want to make as the days grow shorter, the nights longer and colder.  It is also a wonderful time to think about bringing light into your home.  I know Waldorf teachers who light lanterns whilst the children play and keep lanterns up in the school room until the light of Advent comes. Continue reading

Holiday Gifts To Make


Someone told me today that there are nine weekends left until Christmas Day.  Uh, no stress there at all!

That thought made me think about children and gifts and this article written by Pam Leo, author of Connection Parenting, and available over at Waldorf In The Home  here.  It speaks eloquently about slowing down the season, really choosing how we use our time, and how children love the preparation of the holidays….

Which led me to think about gifts that children love to make and give.  I have some tried and true favorites, including: Continue reading

Monthly Anchor Points: October


Anchor:  a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security; mainstay: Hope was his only anchor.

When we work to become the author of own family life, we take on the authority to provide our spouse and children and ourselves stability.  An effective way to do this is through the use of rhythm.  If you have small children, it takes time to build a family rhythm that encompasses the year.  If you are homeschooling older children and also have younger children not ready for formal learning, the cycle of the year through the seasons and through your religious year becomes the number one tool you have for family unity, for family identity, for stability.

Ah, month of October, I love you so!  I love fall and October is so lovely here in the Deep South.  Apples and pumpkins are in full swing, the leaves are finally starting to turn yellow and red, the temperatures are still warm during the day (around 70 degrees Farenheit) but the nights are cool enough for an extra blanket on the bed.

These are the festivals that are my anchors this month:

October 4th- Blessing of the Animals and the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi

October 18 – St. Luke the Evangelist  (I feel especially close to St. Luke).

October 31 – Halloween is my least-favorite holiday of the entire year (Ba! Humbug! LOL), but I love All Saints Day and All Souls Day and those are very important feast days in the liturgical year, so I am looking forward to those days and preparing for those days at the end of this month.  I don’t really decorate for Halloween, but the children do go trick or treating.


Ideas for Celebration:

Much of our celebrating is tied up with our parish this year from the Blessing of the Animals for the Feast Day of St. Francis to our children singing in two Divine Liturgies on All Saints Day to remembering our loved ones on All Souls Day.  A month of doing in community!

For ideas about a fall October circle and stories for the little ones, please see the post in last October’s Monthly Anchor Points  here.

If you need a post about celebrating Halloween in the Waldorf home, try this back post.

If you need a post about All Saints Day and All Souls Day celebrations, look here.

Pumpkin bread and pumpkin muffins

Homemade applesauce

Homemade bone broths with nutritive herbs

Taking care of the birds

Fall hiking

Gathering photographs of loved ones in preparation for All Saints Day/All Souls Day

Buying bulbs to plant in the ground for spring


The Domestic Life:

This is the time where I really start making more bone broths and infuse it with herbs – dandelion root, burdock, astragalus.  A suggestion was made today to add echinacea to it as well, so I am going to try that!

Changing bed linens to flannel sheets and adding blankets and thicker comforters

Stocking up on birdseed

Making sure we all have hats, gloves, snow gear  and boots for winter

Gathering the books for this month’s Saints

Thinking ahead to Thanksgiving and Advent


What are you working on this month as your anchor points?

Many blessings,

Woolens Sale Extended and Links To Make You Think This Week



Green Mountain Organics was kind enough to extend the 20 percent discount for readers of The Parenting Passageway until October 20th.  Use pp20 and get your woolens for winter  here.


Here are some of my favorite links from this week:

An interesting NY Times article about how to teach math: teach math.

An Orthodox Christian article about spiritual intervention that can help depression in addition to cognitive behavioral treatment (including the wonderful prayer of Fr. Arseny):  here.

A 2013 article about   post-partum practices in the US.  We can and should be doing so much better and so much more:

This article about outdoor exposure/no screen access for sixth graders for 5 days and its impact on emotional intelligence.  See Children and Nature news



Monthly Anchor Points: September


I love the month of September, a month of new beginnings for so many of us – for my Orthodox Christian friends, it is the beginning of the liturgical year; for many of us in America it marks Labor Day and the unofficial end of summer and beginning of fall, and for many it is the beginning of a new school year.

Fall is my favorite season, and I love the smells of fall, smoke from a good bonfire, crunching leaves, the snapping of twigs when we walk through the woods or on the farm, the delicious foods associated with fall harvest.  There is a beautiful poem in the book “All Year Round” on page 129 that could make a particularly lovely blessing for this time of year:

Thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us;

Thanks to the rivers and streams and their water;

Thanks to the corn and the grain fields that feed us;

Thanks to the herbs which protect us from illness;

Thanks to the bushes and trees and their fruiting;

Thanks to the moon and the stars in the darkness;

Thanks to the sun and his eye that looks earthward;

Thank the Great Spirit for all of his goodness.

Adapted from an Iroquois Indian address of thanksgiving


I am thinking a lot about harvest, apples, and acorns.  Apples are big in my state toward the midpoint of this month, and I have many “apple” things planned for our kindergarten aged child – apple prints, cooking with apples, baking apple bread, making dried apples, apple picking.  I also have ideas about leaves.  In the book “Mrs. Sharp’s Traditions”, an idea is suggested for a “Maple Leaf and Nutting Party”, which we can do here more in October or toward the end of this month.  Tree and leaf rubbings, leaf prints, collecting leaves and dipping them in glycerin are all fun seasonal things to do this month.

This is also the month that ends in the Feast Day of St. Michael and All Angels, known in the Waldorf tradition as Michaelmas Continue reading

Reads Worth Your While



Here are some of the links I currently love and am pondering:


Here is a great link  about the value of a gap year before college.   Some of you may have small children and are no where near this point yet, but this could be a good save and read later link or a great link if you have teens.


Why all parents who have children in school should be rallying against the amount of homework we are seeing expected of children:  why children are better off without homework.


I love The Healthy Home Economist.  I like this post about packing the packing the healthy lunchbox.   Some more great lunch ideas here: recipes to freeze for lunches.


From Time on how screens are lowering children’s social skills.


Many blessings,