With the holidays approaching, I have tried to be more purposeful in how we respond to the season. We naturally withdraw from distractions outside our home as we seek to establish traditions and memories within our family. My eldest son, Aidan, talk excitedly about family being important during this season and even that Christmas isn't all about presents, but that it is Jesus' birthday. He is growing in understanding about ideas and qualities such a courage and hope, so quickly. (In Waldorf education, child development is viewed in 3 distinct cycles and Aidan is entering what is often called the Seven Year Change. Here is an excellent explanation of the 3 cycles.)
In a hurried world that seeks instant gratification, I want to teach my sons to hold reverence for the sacred. When they are grown, I do not want reverence to be new to them, but to be familiar. As I write, I am reminded of my older sister who has 4 sons and a daughter and lovingly reminds me that I am raising future husbands and fathers.
To help me foster reverence for Christmas with both boys, 6 and 3 years old, I have used a 24-day countdown tree my mother made for my sister and I when we were young. It is a simple and clever design in which we as children reached into the pocket of the corresponding day, pulled out a little felt ornament and hung it on the felt tree. What a delight to know Christmas is getting closer. This year, I added a little slip of paper in each pocket. On one side of the paper is a Biblical truth or verse, i.e. "God loves you" or "Let your light shine" and on the other is a clue to a waiting surprise. Every evening, after the boys blow out the dinner candles, young Shane puts the felt ornament on the tree and Aidan reads the paper and off they go to hunt for their surprise which ranges from a tasty treat to a shiny rock for the nature table.
Later in the evening, Aidan and I read from Family Devotions for the Advent Season, further encouraging both of us to look inward at how we will respond to the sacred season, now and in the future.
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