Peaceful Advent

This is the last week of Advent, the week in which we look with anticipation towards the renewal and hope brought to us through Christmas, and through the ideals that we carry peace and goodwill within our own hearts to share with all of mankind.

Tomorrow is also the Winter Solstice, the time celebrated for being the shortest day and the longest night. It marks the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, but I like to think of it instead of marking the darkest and longest days of acknowledging that each day from here on the daylight is lengthening and the darkness is shortening. In this year of 2020, a year of tumult and sadness for many, may we see the sunlight coming. If you are planning on marking solstice this year, I have some ideas for you Winter Solstice | The Parenting Passageway and Celebrating the Winter Solstice | The Parenting Passageway. We will be cutting up some oranges to dry out and make a garland, and make some Sun Bread as found in the book of the same title.

This week is a wonderful time to think about the Twelve Days (and Holy Nights) of Christmas that begin on Christmas Day. This is one of my favorite introspective times of the year. We all come to this Earth with gifts, with hopes, with our own thoughts and ideals and the ability to do good deeds for all of humankind and for the least among us. It is our gift to help and encourage and to provide the goodness and beauty we wish to see in this world.  We are here to love and serve others. This week is a perfect week to think about how to bring peace and light into all aspects of your life. What is serving you right now and what is not? Are you helping others in your life? Can you help encourage and bring peace to others? In the realm of homeschooling, is what you are doing serving you? How could you change things to live and learn even more deeply? That, to me, is the purest and truest form of homeschooling.

I usually pick a word for the upcoming year during this time. This year, my word for 2021 came early. And it’s the word “BUILD.” I have some exciting projects planned and ways to build up myself. my family, and those around me. My word last year was “RADIANT” and I felt like despite the events of 2020, we had a pretty radiant year – two new jobs and an advanced degree and specialty certification for me, a new sport for our older two children, one child starting at an out of state university and loving it – so blessed and yes, a radiant life despite the turbulence of the year. If you want to hear more about that word and how I work with the word of the year during Christmastide, please look Word of the Year | The Parenting Passageway.

Peaceful blessings for this week, may your light continue to shine,


Making Advent Memories

The time leading up to the holidays, particularly if you celebrate Solstice, Hanukkah, or Christmas as your major feast for this season, can feel like a whirlwind of decorating, baking, wrapping, giving, end of semester recitals and plays and finals (maybe not this year with Covid-19, but every state and school seems to be different!) …leading up to the major holiday and it can feel exhausting! Maybe if you are like my family, you celebrate several smaller festivals in this month such as St. Nicholas Day, Santa Lucia, an Advent Spiral (which is a walk around a spiral of evergreens) or more, which can sometimes feel like too much if all of it is elaborate!

In this time, slowing down and being together is the thing that really matters the most. Take time to read together, to make window stars and straw stars, to dry orange slices for a garland for the tree, to string popcorn and dip candles, and to otherwise bring the pace as a spiral inward and inward and inward. We can do this by being gentle in our actions towards ourselves and others and setting time aside for our own self care and to relax and enjoy this season of light, love, and generosity. Relaxing during this month should be a given, yet how many mothers actually relax in the midst of all the whirlwind of things to be done? Take heart, you don’t need that many “things” to create family memories for Advent.

This week we are working on a few small projects that I will be highlighting on FB/IG, including making window stars and dipping candles. These are very doable projects with children. Window stars are a simple folding of a square of kite paper (held up like a diamond shape), fold in half and unfold, and then bring the sides of the paper to that crease. Glue the corners down and do this for enough points to make your star! Candles are also easy with melted beeswax (a garage sale crockpot works well for this), and a simple wick and a nearby pitcher of cold water. Dipping takes time, but children are often fascinated watching their candle be built up, flattening the bottom as they go along, and doing that over and over. You can flatten the bottom when it is still warm onto a little round of wood for the holder. Simple and satisfying.

St. Nicholas Day is on Sunday, and we can bring to this day a gentle, easy, and nourishing time with tea, special foods, and perhaps a little gift (or not) if this is not your main time of gift giving (for some families it is the major time of gift giving). When our children were younger, St. Nicholas Day was perhaps bigger than we celebrate it now. We never did a lot with the idea of Santa Claus (one unwrapped smaller gift was from “Santa”). However, perhaps more importantly than “getting” is children learning how to give and how to have the spirit of St. Nicholas in them at all times. Have you been getting into “good trouble” as John Lewis would say, helping others without them knowing, with a twinkle in your eye? Are you generous and kind all year round? This is the spirit of Advent and Christmas. What can your children give? What can they do to be generous and helpful and kind? Is there someone your family can help in a tangible, secret way? Those are the amazing opportunities that this month opens up into our hearts and souls.