After a while they played at forfeits; for it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself!
The “Twelve Days of Christmas” aren’t over yet, so I’m not letting go!
“Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”
Turkey’s and Bunny’s favorite line from A Christmas Carol:
I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.
I think that Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, sums up my feelings on Christmas pretty well in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol:
There are many thing from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say. Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time when it has come round–apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that–as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”
We read through A Christmas Carol this year, and we watched different movie versions approximately one zillion times. After watching all these different productions, one line by Bob Cratchit describing Tiny Tim at church on Christmas Day really stood out to me:
Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.
Today was the end of Christmas school. One last story to read, a review of the countries we learned about (and all of their varied Christmas traditions), one last project to complete, and the big finale of A Christmas Carol.
Our final Christmas story was from The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories called “Christmas Every Day.” This was a cute story in which a child imagined what it would be like if was Christmas Day all year long. The end results of the imagining were not good, and in the end, she realized that the reason Christmas is so special is because it only comes around once a year. As much as I love Christmas, it was a good reminder that like everything, Christmas has its season.
To review our “Christmas Around the World” activities, I started by asking Turkey and Bunny what countries we had learned about. Each time they named one, I asked them how to say Merry Christmas in that country. We then decorated a sign with that saying–using lots of glitter (after all, you can’t have Christmas school without covering everything, including yourself, in copious amounts of glitter at least once!). As we glittered (Turkey and Bunny took turns going over the words I wrote out in pencil), we discussed some of the most notable Christmas traditions of that country. Although we only technically learned about four countries this year, I threw in a bonus question about England, since we’ve been reading A Christmas Carol, and we’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what a traditional English Christmas is like.
Because we did finish A Christmas Carol today, we also got to watch my favorite version of the movie–The Muppet Christmas Carol. I know, I know…the Muppets? And yet, the movie is strangely true to the book, the music is great, plus…well, it’s the Muppets! What’s not to love? I have a few other versions recorded on the DVR that I hope to get to as well, but I had to make sure we saw our favorite, as a reward for us having read the whole book!
I’m always sad when Christmas school ends. So much effort goes into the planning and implementation, starting way back in the summer when I start thinking about which resources I’m going to use, and which I’d like to get, and then the big rush in November and December of choosing crafts, planning field trips, picking which stories to read on which day, deciding which craft goes best with the stories, and figuring out how to break apart our big read-alouds. It should come as no surprise that between school and regular Christmas need-to-dos, I spend much of December completely exhausted! But it’s a good kind of exhaustion, and I wouldn’t trade making these special memories and building holiday traditions for anything!
Merry Christmas everyone!
Today in school, we learned more about Jesus’ earthly father in Fear Not Joseph. Now, this book is fictionalized, as it must be, since we don’t have a whole lot of information on Joseph, outside of a few mentions in Scripture. But I think this book does an excellent job of showing children how Joseph might have felt, how he might have talked to Mary, how he dealt with Jesus being born in a stable. It’s also nice to have a different perspective on the Christmas story.
Since we have been reading a lot about angels this week, in the stories of Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph, we listened to and learned about a semi-familiar hymn, “The Angel Gabriel.” We were able to do this courtesy of Sacred Songs of Christmas. This book and CD set gives background information for 19 hymns, some well-known, and a few more obscure. There are also Bible verses, quotes, and trivia (for lack of a better word), mixed in with the words of the hymns. The CD only contains the first verses of the hymns, but that’s enough to give a good idea of the melody if you don’t know it, and the complete words are in the book if you’re ambitious enough to sing the rest on your own. We’ll be using this book several more times before we’re done with Christmas school!
I have failed to mention that for our big Christmas read-aloud, we’re reading A Christmas Carol. That’s right, the Charles Dickens classic–five pages a day. I was worried that Turkey and Bunny might find it too dry–they are familiar with the story, thanks to the Muppets, but sitting down and listening to the story sans pictures is a little different. They seem to be enjoying it, though, and their comprehension of it is good. I just like that they’re being exposed to such a classic book at such young ages!
Since we read the first two books in the series earlier this week (Ordering Our Days in His Peace and Behold the Lamb), we also re-read Worshiping with Angels and Archangels. I really like the way this book introduces children to the Divine Service, and even I have managed to learn a few things over the few times we’ve read it. The children have really enjoyed learning the history and the whys of the way we worship, and I like how everything in the book points to the Sacrament of the Altar.
A key element to our Christmas school every year is A Classical Kids Christmas. This CD is set up much like a children’s Christmas pageant, and tells the Christmas story through the important days of the Christmas season, including St. Nicholas’ Day, St. Thomas’ Day, and Epiphany. It doesn’t shy away from the real reason for the season, and only mentions Santa briefly, and then only in the context of explaining how he came to be in relation to St. Nicholas. It also does an excellent job of telling of Christmas traditions around the world, which comes in handy when we’re doing our Christmas around the world days.