Thursday, December 1, 2011

December is Here!

As our children get older, B and I have been more consciously deciding on the family traditions that we want to celebrate from season to season, from year to year. The winter holidays in particular have the potential to be filled with so much magic and wonder--but unfortunately, they so often become overshadowed by out-of-control consumerism and stress. It is important to us that our holiday celebrations reflect the values of our family: that of compassion, kindness, generosity, love, resourcefulness, and gratitude. With this in mind, we plan to spend the weeks to come celebrating the marvels of nature this time of year: the short, dark days; the chilly winds; the stark beauty of bare tree branches against gray sky. With a nod to the Waldorf tradition we have come to know and love, we will be celebrating Advent (secular-style) as a way to mark the days and weeks until Solstice, and then to Christmas Day. We will do this simply, reverently, lighting a candle and saying a verse each week (similar to the description in this lovely post), and counting down the days on our advent calendar.

Until recently, I hadn't thought about how very powerful anticipation is, but while re-reading Simplicity Parenting recently I was struck by the following passage:

"Waiting for something with anticipation builds a child's character.... It shows them their inner strength, the strength of powerful waiting. Unchecked, our wills are like weeds, threatening to take over our whole spirits; invasive vines of desire for what we want (everything) when we want it (now). Anticipation holds back the will; it counters instant gratification. It informs a child's development and growth and builds their inner life."
-Kim John Payne

And so this year, we hope to (ever-so-subtly) instill some of these important values in our children, through some "powerful waiting," through the observation of simple yet beautiful festivals and celebrations, and through a Christmas day focused less on a mountain of "stuff" and more on the wonder and joy that this season should inspire.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season!

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