I'm trying to get away from the monster of "accomplishment" that gnaws at my breast this time of year. (I'm not referring to Raphael—I mean the metaphorical monster and the metaphorical breast).
During this final week of Advent, I am concentrating on moving peacefully amidst the great tidal wave of projects which I think (back in November) I can accomplish before Christmas —the baking, with all my floury, crumby, spready, spilly little helpers; the top secret knitting projects for a man with enormous feet, the handmade presents for godchildren, nieces, nephews, piano students...
See that baby down there? Oh good eyes!
It is such a great comfort that the Son of God was born into poverty and squalor; that, as Chesterton points out, the rich and the educated (who no doubt had beautifully decorated houses and perfect baking) were the last to arrive at the manger.
This picture is from 3 weeks ago—we've since found pants for Matthias
No matter what our house looks like or how many cookies we burn or how many handmade presents lie unfinished in the sewing room, Christmas will be beautiful, the Divine Incarnation will be beautiful...
...the most beautiful mystery, the oriens, the morning star rising in the East.
If I can remember to smile at the children (it's amazing how busy-ness will put a furrow in your brow) and enjoy them and their silly jokes and sing Advent songs while we work in addition to bossing them around, and if I can be Will's radiant wife, then perhaps the Divine Infant will find a home in our house this Christmas.
There are so many reasons to stop and enjoy the process, this "road to Bethlehem".
"Star in the East, the horizon adorning..." (shape note carol)
May your hearts be merry and your homes full of peace during this final week.
Here is our little friend who arrived on the Feast of St. Nick bringing chocolate loonies and peppermint candies and new books. And here is a little boy on that magical morning.
St. Nick was so easy to make (needle-felted head, body from an old sweater) that with the euphoria of the novice needle-felter I resolved to make a whole nativity set for the creche.
So far—one sheep.
The boys keep adding nature bric-a-brac to the stable to make a cosy nest for baby Jesus (mostly moss and rocks and spruce boughs plundered from the woods.) I like to picture the Divino Bambino coming into our own habitat...in our case, a cold northern woodland full of pine trees and rocks.
Not even when I'm driving kids to "real" school, and back again, each day—almost an hour total. (This doesn't include getting four kids into/out of the vehicle!)
Driving time, in our family, is put to work. Driving time is for reciting poems, spelling words, going over "ways to make 10", or when everyone is too whiny and tired for mental work, listening to stories.
Right now we're enjoying the Hobbit (read by Rob Inglis), the Chronicles of Narnia (a dramatized version narrated by Paul Scofield), and most recently some BBC recordings of MacBeth and King Lear. These last aren't child-appropriate by any means, but the boys love them and I make allowances because, well, it's Shakespeare. In the words of Bertie Wooster, "You mustn't listen when a girl is giving you hell. It's like Shakespeare. It sounds alright, but it doesn't mean anything." Ha ha! For us that's true. I don't want my boys to understand the dark, sad, complicated, adult passions that drive Lear and Macbeth to ruin. Not without a dash of P.G. Wodehouse to lighten the heart. Plenty of time for that. For now, we just enjoy the thick, juicy, gorgeous English.
Anyway. Homeschooling. Because, as we all know, it's a way of life, not a system, right? Please say yes because I've lost my homeschooling mojo, my crafting mojo, my clean house mojo, and my day-planner. I've lost everything other than finding socks, keeping food inside people, and tending to various bodily functions.
I'm exaggerating. Are you kidding? Socks? What are boot liners for? Matthias hasn't even had pants for over a week. I'm not sure if this is because his pants were sucked into the event-horizon of laundry, or because he somehow doesn't have any.
Two blessings: First, Willie and Hugh like cutting paper snowflakes. We make snowflakes without cease. Montessori bases a whole philosophy on cutting paper—eye-hand coordination, valuable motor skills, concentration, not to mention the delight of random cutting—all the fun of destruction with the satisfaction of creating something beautiful in the end.
Even if every other ball gets dropped (not to mention pants), we have Shakespeare and paper snowflakes.
The second blessing is that Matthias copies whatever his brothers do, which considerably reduces my work.
Oh, and another blessing: Raphael sleeps. I don't expect it to last, but I don't need to tell you why this is boon to humanity.