The Magic of Christmas
— Tom Krause
‘Joy to the World’, the carolers sang out
as last minute shoppers scurried about,
desperately seeking that one special gift
that would give Christmas morning a magical lift.
A old man standing still listening to the song,
amidst all the madness of the bustling throng,
in a shaky hoarse voice began to join in
singing the words of the famous old hymn.
One by one people stopped with their madness
to join with the old man for a moment of gladness.
By the time the carolers finished singing their song
the whole throng was united as they all sang along.
And as if by magic from out of the sky
church bells rang out from a chapel near by.
When the song finally ended the people greeted each other
with messages of good will they shared with one another.
You see that magical gift the shoppers sought for so long,
was not in the shopping or scurrying along.
That magical gift so desperately sought
was the Spirit of Christmas -which could never be bought.
Christmas preparations are definitely under way in our house. My daughter has begun learning the poem The Magic of Christmas to recite in a couple of weeks. It brings us a timely reminder to pause with the old man, as carol services, Christmas parties and decorating begin.
So in the midst of all the scurrying about this December, we are going to try to slow down and enjoy Advent: we’ll decorate the house; light candles; share poems; make gifts; create memories; enjoy traditions; remind ourselves of the first nativity; and read Christmas books (in abundance!). Our Christmas read aloud this year is going to be E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Nutcracker illustrated by Maurice Sendak as my older two are being taken to see the live ballet performance with their grandmother just before Christmas.
One of our favourite Advent traditions is enjoying a pile of familiar short Christmas picture books and another is creating what my older two refer to as our ‘Christmas Library’. The ‘Christmas Library’ is a collection of chapter books with Christmas themes for them to enjoy, which we pull out each year from the attic.
How does your family enjoy Advent?
Here is a list of the Christmas books we’ve enjoyed the last few years:
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The Nutcracker Extravaganza
An Abundance of Christmas Stories
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20 Family Read Alouds
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
— Robert Frost
Doesn’t Robert Frost capture the beauty of the season beautifully?! The leaves are falling and the skies are grey. Autumn has arrived. Continue reading
The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Doesn’t Mary Oliver capture the spirit of summer so well?! Summer is here. What better way to celebrate with your little one than grab a blanket and a pile of books and head outside?! Continue reading
With Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday now behind us, I’ve been getting our selection of Easter books out of the attic for us to enjoy.
We probably read Shakespeare in the first place for his stories, afterwards for his characters, the multitude of delightful persons with whom he makes us so intimate that afterwards, in fiction or in fact, we say, ‘She is another Jessica,’ and ‘That dear girl is a Miranda’; ‘She is a Cordelia to her father,’ and, such a figure in history, ‘a base lago.’ To become intimate with Shakespeare in this way is a great enrichment of mind and instruction of conscience. Then, by degrees, as we go on reading this world-teacher, lines of insight and beauty take possession of us, and unconsciously mould our judgments of men and things and of the great issues of life.
— Charlotte Mason
It feels as though we have just taken the lid off a treasure chest as we have opened William Shakespeare together this term. Continue reading
“Always winter and never Christmas;
think of that!”
“How awful!” said Lucy.
— The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
Lucy is right. It would be awful! Christmas is most definitely the light in the darkness. Such joy amidst the long winter months. Continue reading
Homeschooling is always a great conversation starter. I am pretty good at anticipating people thinking that I’m mad, so I normally preempt the look of surprise by saying, “Yes I know – I’m crazy aren’t I?!”
The questions very quickly come to, “How can you teach your older two with your little toddler around?”, or often more bluntly phrased as, “What do you do with her when you are teaching?” Continue reading
‘They must grow up upon the best… There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told. Let Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ represent their standard in poetry; Defoe and Stevenson, in prose; and we shall train a race of readers who will demand literature–that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas and pictures of life.’
— Charlotte Mason
The British educator, Charlotte Mason, held that poetry was a key element of the feast of learning that children should delight in. Young children don’t need to dissect and analyse – that comes later – but they do need to be helped to appreciate some of the variety and majesty and tragedy and comedy that exists in (and between) the lines of great poems. And so we spend time enjoying them. We read lots of poems, focusing on one poet a term, and try to learn one or two along the way. Anthologies of different poets’ work are wonderful but we have found that taking time to explore one poet at a time has meant we have got to know the poet more deeply.
Here’s a list of nursery rhymes, anthologies, poets and books that we have enjoyed: Continue reading
So many wonderful authors have written of this special time of year – some of the Nativity itself, others around the legend of Father Christmas and others are heartwarming fireside stories. Why not have browse and snuggle up with one of these books and read to the family during Advent?