Preparing for Advent 2017

Advent is a time of anticipation and waiting in the Christian tradition.  In the tradition of the Waldorf schools, however, Advent is accessible to all faiths as a season of hope and waiting; a season of lightness in the dark.

One thing I love to do around Thanksgiving is to start to gather greens that we will use to build an Advent wreath. Many families find an Advent wreath with a verse to be a comforting daily or weekly ritual.  The verse that many Waldorf families use with their Advent wreath is this one:

The first Light of Advent It is the Light of stones:
The Light that shines in seashells In crystals and our bones.

The second Light of Advent It is the Light of plants:
Plants that reach up to the sun And in the breezes dance.

The third Light of Advent, It is the light of beasts:
The Light of faith that we may see In greatest and in least.

The fourth Light of Advent It is the Light of humankind:
The Light of hope, of thoughts and deeds,
The Light of hand, heart and mind.

Each week, one can choose to add the things mentioned in the verse – seashells and crystals; plants; wooden animals or other representations of the animal kingdom and then lastly representations of the human realm.

There are so many wonderful Advent ideas and books out there.  Some of the favorites I have had from over the years include the ebooks from Little Acorn Learning and from Annette over at Seasons of Joy.  You can also see my Nativity Fast/Advent Pinterest board and my General Advent board.

Here are some back posts about Advent, Winter Celebrations, and the first week of Advent:

Advent For All Ages

The Mystery of Advent

The Inner Work of Advent

Advent and Winter Celebrations

The First Week of Advent 2009

The First Week of Advent 2010

The First Week of Advent 2011

The First Week of Advent 2012

The First Week of Advent 2015

The First Week of Advent 2016

 

Please share your Advent traditions!

Blessings,
Carrie

 

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Thanksgiving Fun

I have to be totally honest. Thanksgiving is not really one of my favorite holidays.  I mean, I enjoy the attitude of gratitude, but I really don’t enjoy the whole sit around and eat. First of all, I don’t love sitting that much.  And I don’t enjoy that Thanksgiving in the United States has become really no more than a prelude to the crazy commercial holiday season of December, and that makes me sad.

So, this year, I would love to see people making Thanksgiving about connections and gratitude (not just food). I would love to see more people boycott Black Friday in favor of getting outside with their family.  I would love to see some meaningful traditions that involve more than copious amounts of food.

How about any of the following:

  • Volunteer to help others.  
  • Invite someone who would otherwise be alone to be a part of your Thanksgiving feast.
  • Pick out a charity to support until next Thanksgiving.  Share your favorites in the comment box!
  • Go to your place of worship
  • Make a gratitude jar, or have a gratitude tree where things one is grateful for are written down and read at dinner
  • Take a walk and get outside.  My ultimate dream is actually to camp on Thanksgiving.  Maybe one year!

If you have small children, really do think ahead. Sometimes Thanksgiving can feel rather “adult” with the adults just sitting around and talking.  Not much fun for children!  Bring crafts for the children to do, get a copy of the book “Cranberry Thanksgiving” and make cranberry bread (you can see the recipe here), help the children be involved in cooking and setting the table, learn some Thanksgiving music (you can see suggestions in this back post, “A Waldorf View of Thanksgiving.”) that you all can sing and play after dinner.

Please share with me your favorite family traditions!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

November Beauty

I shall not sing a May song.

A May song should be gay.

I’ll wait until November

And sing a song of gray.

I’ll wait until November

That is the time for me.

I’ll go out in the frosty dark

And sing most terribly.
And all the little people

Will stare at me and say, “That is the Crazy Woman Who would not sing in May.”
-“The Crazy Woman” by Gwendolyn Brooks

 

I know for some people the days in November get too dark and too gray, but  I always try to remember that November is a lovely month in so many ways.  It is a month full of gratitude for the season and it has that snuggly,cozy feeling as the days become longer and darker.

This month we are celebrating:

  • November 1 All Saints Day
  • November 2 All Souls Day
  • November 10/11  Martinmas and Veterans Day (technically both on the 11th but our town had a community celebration for Veterans Day on the 10th)
  • November 19 St. Elizabeth
  • November 23 Thanksgiving
  • November 27  I have it in my calendar to make Advent Wreaths in preparation for the first Sunday in Advent, December 3rd.  (Hard to believe Advent is almost upon us!  If you want a little peek ahead, try my Advent Pinterest Board)

Learning and celebrating:

  • Learn songs for a Martinmas Lantern Walk
  • Use transparency paper to make window silhouettes and transparency cut-outs and lanterns.
  • Bake bread on the cold days
  • Look for bird’s  nests as the trees lose their leaves; make feeders start to be filled all the time, make treats for the birds
  • Dip leaves in glycerin or beeswax and preserve them
  • Cook things with cranberries, corn, and pumpkin.
  • Learn some Thanksgiving songs and practice so you can play them after Thanksgiving Dinner!
  • Find a place to volunteer to serve Thanksgiving dinner
  • Make Thanksgiving Baskets and leaving them on your neighbor’s doorstep!
  • Gather greens and natural items to use for an Advent Wreath.  We do this at church from the areas surrounding the church and it is quite lovely!
  • Find books, cozy blankets and pillows, and mark off half days for just reading and lounging around. Pull out candles, homemade Martinmas lanterns, salt lamps  and scatter them around.  Cuddle up and read with some fabulous tea or hot chocolate.
  • Find handwork projects that you will love and get started.

Other Ideas for this month:

  • Get a small jump on gifts for the holidays. Here is my Pinterest Board of holiday gifts to make
  • Make sure you are still getting your Vitamin N and get out in nature!
  • Dream a little about the next school year in homeschooling ❤

Blessings and love,
Carrie

Hearts of Courage: Michaelmas

From – Rudolf Steiner’s January 15, 1915 lecture The Great Virtues:

Another virtue can be called — though it is difficult to describe it exactly — the virtue of Courage. It contains the mood which does not remain passive towards life, but is ready to use its strength and activity. It can be said that this virtue comes from the heart. Of one who has this virtue in ordinary life it can be said: he has his heart in the right place. This is a good expression for our condition when we do not withdraw in a timid way from things which life asks from us, but when we are prepared to take ourselves in hand and know how to intervene where it is necessary. When we are inclined to get moving, confidently and bravely, we have this virtue. It is connected with a healthy life of feeling, which develops bravery at the right moment, while its absence brings about cowardice.

We are living in a time and place in which we must call upon our courage and quell our passivity towards life, and we must teach our children how to become active.   I was thinking about this article about how teenagers are growing up more slowly and in fact in their twenties are now acting like teenagers of the past (based upon studies of  8 MILLION teenagers!)  There needs to be leaders in this generation, and it is up to us to prepare them.  Therefore, I  think there is no better theme to meditate upon this Michaelmas season as the Northern Hemisphere looks inward with a self-consciousness toward contemplation of the things that will make health and healing flow into our children and the world and how we can equip our children and our teenagers, our young adults, to meet this world.   The things going on in the world requires us not to check out, but to help.

The outer trappings of the festival of Michaelmas are quite lovely for  small children, and especially fun in a large group with many different ages playing parts in a Michaelmas display of a dragon with knights and St. Michael.  There are many ways we can celebrate at home as homeschoolers as well; this is a great post for beginners or those with younger children called “Michaelmas Is Coming!”

If you want even more suggestions for celebrating, or need suggestions for older children, even high schoolers, try this back post: “A Month of Michaelmas”

But most of all, this is the time for serious adult inner work.  We turn inward from the consciousness of nature that we have been drawn to, this outward expression that marks the summer, and work inward to discover the dragons within us that need subduing;  how to bring our dreams and light to our family and the world.  One medititation that many associated with Waldorf Education use is the Foundation Stone Meditation.  You may find this link through the Anthroposophical Society, Portland Branch to be helpful as it includes a PDF chart of working with this meditation in conjunction in a 7-fold rhythm for days and seasons of the year.

The conflict between the dragon and St. Michael lives within us; how can we activate our own consciousness in order to find the deeds to help our children and the world?

Blessings,

Carrie

 

On the Eve of St. John’s Tide

“John the Baptist represents man at the center of history, devoted to what is beyond himself, to the revelation of the spirit brought by Christ.  His summons was to turn inward, to search within toward a confrontation with oneself.”

-from “Waldorf Education:  A Family Guide, ” page 175

St. John’s Tide is a wonderful time to ask ourselves….

are we being helpful to humanity?  As a mother, I feel the very best place to begin with this endeavor is in our own homes and with our own children.  Don’t give in to fear and insecurity in leading and guiding your children; search for the fearlessness in the heart of your parenting.  This generation of children needs that in order to develop heart, word, and deed devoted to humanity.

are we honest?

are we peaceful?

where is our balance?

How do we work on these endeavors and more in our lives? I find inner work to be a resounding key for this because our model is more important in these times than our words.  Our model is making a way and a path for our children and what the world will need when it is this generation’s turn to be  leaders and architects of solutions to problems.

Some of my favorite ways to do inner work is very simple indeed:

Praying- I am Episcopalian, so following The Book of Common Prayer is what unites the people of the Anglican Communion; a way of prayer.  When we ask for help from the spiritual world and listen in our hearts for the answer, we find the model we need.

Attending mass and receiving the sacraments

Listening to people; listening to what is becoming in the world.  This requires an interest in the outside world, and using imagination and intuition.

Trying to picture my spouse and children as clearly as possible and taking these pictures into my sleep.  Don’t we all often do our best thinking in our sleep?

Wishing you a magnificent St. John’s Tide;  perhaps you will spend the day outside with cooking over open fires or creating a bonfire that you can leap over; finding edible flowers; creating platters of fruits; gathering sunflowers and leaving a light on the porch burning all night long.  However you choose to celebrate, may renewal and transformation be yours.

Blessings,
Carrie

 

 

Joyous Summers With Children!

The outbreath of summer with its golden days, sultry heat, blue skies, dragonflies and bumblebees, and festivals is one of my favorite seasons of the year.  However, sometimes summer with children can have a bit of a bumpy entry (adjustment) or a bit of fatigue in the middle (lack of balance, sibling bickering!)

One of the things I think summer really needs is time and space, but also a skeletal structure to provide a little inbreath and outbreath; a little balance.  Children often run full tilt outside all summer long, and sometimes even just having a little grounding in the morning with chores and a small circle (for younger children) or artistic activity (for older children), and a pause in the middle of the day  for physical rest can be helpful and nourishing.

I like to plan some anchor points with crafts for festivals over the summer.  You can see some of my ideas here on my Summer Pinterest board, along with ideas specifically for June, July, and   .  These are months for creating a magical summer!   This back post by guest poster Christine Natale has many wonderful ideas for creating great summer memories.  I also wrote a post about celebrating summer with small children  if you are looking for something specific to the Early Years.

One thing to plan for includes summertime bickering.  I find bickering  between siblings can be at its height during the summer, and it is good to have a plan to deal with this so you are not caught off guard!

Lastly, consider summer stories and your summer nature table.  These can add a stabilizing, calming influence to your summer plans.

Off to enjoy a day of fun in the sun myself,

Carrie

Now We Go Round The Maypole High

Now we go round the Maypole high, Maypole high, Maypole high

Now we go round the Maypole high,

Let colored ribbons fly.

See lasses and lads go tripping by,

Tripping by, tripping by,

See lasses and lads go tripping by

Let colored ribbons fly

Tonight we are celebrating the third Sunday in Eastertide, and the delight of  May Day is upon us tomorrow!

There are so many beautiful traditions associated with May Day, and it is sure to be a festival your family will enjoy.  Festivals involve the outer doing for children.  In this case, we could:

  • Have a  real Maypole and a Maypole dance.  Some traditional songs include “Now We Go Round the Maypole High” and “May Song”  (Which begins:  “Here’s a branch of snowy may, a branch the fairies gave me/Who would like to dance today with the branch the fairies gave me?”)
  • Make simple ribbon and bell anklets for the girls to wear in dancing the Maypole, and flower crowns
  • Make Mayday baskets of little paper cones with flowers in them for your neighbors or community helpers.  Alternatively, you could press flowers and make little May Day  cards.
  • Tell stories!  Possibilities include, “The Piper Who Knew But One Tune,” found in the book, “Celebrating Irish Festivals,” by Ruth Marshall or “Little Grey Rabbit’s May Day” by Alison Uttley
  • Play ring games such as “Nuts in May,” ball games, and sack races
  • Pick medicinal herbs and dry them.
  • Sing songs and do fingerplays about the cuckoo bird
  • Have a picnic lunch outside!
  • Make tissue paper flowers
  • Decorate your home with wreaths, garlands, and ribbons.  This is a tradition from England.
  • Serve a May Day cake after dinner.
  • There are directions for a Mayday decoration on page 88 of the book, “All Year Round.”

The inner work of the adult:

May Day was celebrated as freedom and exuberance of summer, and in the book, “All Year Round,” the authors state it is  a time of promise for the farmer, the young people weaving around the May Pole, the young girl washing her face in the morning dew.  Authors Druitt, Fynes, and Rowling write in “All Year Round,” (page 85):  “In most years, May 1st falls between Easter and Ascension.  In the forty days after Easter, the teaching of the Risen Christ gave the disciples glimpses of the Divine Pattern woven by the events of Holy Week.  By Ascension, these glimpses were only a memory, but the promise to His followers remained as their consolation – the promise, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20).   

Perhaps the inner work of the adult is to find the promise and hope within ourselves.

Have a beautiful May Day!  A final lovely thought:

In many lands the children bring

May Baskets for the first of spring,

And hang them on a neighbor’s door

To say that spring is here once more.

-A. Wynne

Many blessings in your celebrations,
Carrie