Happy Winter Solstice friends. On the longest night of the year, I have some beautiful news to share...THE LIGHT IS COMING.
Yes the days will be longer, but I speak of that Light which defeats all darkness. We are Children of that Light.
Yes it certainly is the 21st! I don't know how to feel about that fact with the logistics of this household.
Anyway!My friend Nicole and I were chatting online at the beginning of this month and she asked me a question. I was asking if her little boys were understanding what is going on around them with the festivities of the season and she replied that she knows they understand Santa Claus but she is not sure if they quite get the real meaning. And then she asked me for any suggestions?!?!?!?!?
Wait! I have blog where I can answer this very question!! Maybe other mamas wonder what it is I do? And what I do may look very different from what Nicole ultimately ends up doing, but this is the beauty of being sovereign in your own home! And understanding that you are sovereign would be the first step to teaching the meaning about Christmas: KNOW that this is YOUR job. Don't be intimidated by this, have great confidence in trusting that the Helper will give you the graces to raise...a Christian.
So when we wonder about the meaning of Christmas for our kids, I wonder if any of us adults really get the meaning. That this Father of ours, this Creator, decides, out of love, to initiate contact in a way He never has before. He could have done so in a lot of really cool and "epic" ways, but he decides to glorify the small. He also decides to glorify motherhood. Our Lord became dependent on a woman, whom He always had in mind for this particular task, and yes, h
That is a big thing to think about!
And so I think in one's home it might be most helpful to the littlest child to have a sense of wonder about this particular baby. And my three year old is getting this...that the baby is not out at the nativity right now! We wonder when the baby Jesus will be born. We are waiting!
We are waiting for the baby Jesus to come. When I first set the nativity up, I stopped and asked her "Where do you think we can put baby Jesus?" and we found a nice spot. I think it is important to ask for the child's help, after all it is their home too.
I want her to take ownership and so...you, my little one, you hide the baby Jesus...and then you can take him out on Christmas Eve...and you will help bring Christmas to our home. I found this beautiful ceramic nativity at a thrift store. I personally love spending $5.00 on things like this because then I can be ok with my littles touching the nativity and then when something does break, we aren't all flustered about it. That's a Christmas spirit killer... "I broke Mama's St Joseph and she is so mad."
If you have multiple nativities, all of their Baby Jesus figures are also in your safe space. Oh how beautiful that for our Lord His waiting was in the womb of His mama; in our home it is a drawer.
Hhhmm? What else? Oh yes!
An Advent wreath in the middle of the kitchen table is always so simple too! The children love a flame. They love the colors purple and that one pink candle. We can wonder about this light that is making its way around the wreath. I like to place Mother Mary in the middle of our Advent wreath, she was waiting in a most particular way.
So...I can continue to list out all of our traditions. Baby Jesus hidden...check! Advent wreath...check! But at times I wonder...as we make our way through chocolate calendars and the sort...and we don't even do elf on the shelf..I wonder...if we even have too many traditions? CAN YOU HAVE TOO MANY? I think we can. So, let's have a baseline in our homes that we try to be very intentional and yet as I write thinking of Nicole and her two boys in beautiful Alaska, I think we must remember...that very young children have what Dr. Maria Montessori called the "Absorbent Mind."
So...yes...maybe...we TRUST the child's sponge of a mind. We decorate our tree. We play absolutely BEAUTIFUL Christmas music. We take them to Mass and they see candles and they dip their hands in Holy Water and they see the purple and the LARGER Advent wreath that the small Advent wreath on the kitchen table always pointed too.
We take them to the sanctuary and they see this image of the Blessed Mother again there and deep down they might wonder at this Lady.
I think I would say to Nicole...model JOY in this season. Joy in making cookies. Joy in making a Christmas Craft. Joy in letting THEM put the ornaments on the tree. Joy in visiting a jovial plump man at the Christmas tree lot. Joy in sipping cocoa. Joy in watching a goofy elf in tights walk around New York City or a bunch of Whos singing around a tree.
Their little minds will tuck this away...they will start having a collective memory, "I like my home at this time of year."
Their little minds will be drawn to "how happy mommy and daddy are, how peaceful they seem" this time of year. Ha! I know...I am not always happy and peaceful but we must have goals!
They will start to make connections that go MUCH deeper than we could guess, and not because we sat and read and tested them about the Who that this season is about. Maybe we just read the gospel account of His Sacred Birth once in front of the tree. We light a candle and Papa reads and then that's it. No explaining. No going on and on and on. Just essentials.
We TRUST the amazing brains and the tender souls of our children to pick up on how intentional we decorate. How lovingly we do the small things, and this is what we do...we allow mystery. We as their parents acknowledge and honor the truth that deep down these children will connect with what they see. Why? Because they are made in His image. We are not teaching them anything, it is really a gradual work of the Holy Spirit in that the child, in an environment that lays good soil, that the truth inside of them comes out.
"I am made in His image! It is this time of year that I remember He came as GIFT to us!"
So, we go about cultivating a space for our children that points to that inner truth. It can be through music or prayers or pictures or food, and the great beauty is that every HOME will look different.
So, I hope this relieves any stress any of you might be feeling, especially with little ones, about whether or not they "get" what is going on. Someday dear friends, you will see the fruit of being intentional in these younger years. Your children will say things like, "I want this from Santa, but I know that is not what Christmas is about."
So...go cuddle up with your little ones with a good Christmas book and ENJOY GIFT my friends! And remember...Christmas is a GREAT FEAST so stretch it out...go all the way to Epiphany! Don't worry my tree will be very dry too...its absolutely wonderful. ;)