Monday, November 13, 2017

Christmas Countdown with Charlotte Mason, Week 7 of 12: Joy to the earth

6 weeks till Christmas!

Here is this week's passage from Charlotte Mason's book Parents and Children:
"Fortitude  Now fortitude has its higher and its lower offices. It concerns itself with things of the mind and with things of the body, and, perhaps, it is safe to argue that fortitude on the higher plane is only possible when it has become the habit of the nature on the lower...Health and happiness depend largely upon the disregard of sensations, and the child who is encouraged to say, 'I am so cold,' 'I am so tired,' 'My vest pricks me,' and so on, is likely to develop into the hysterical girl or the hypochondriac man; for it is an immutable law, that, as with our appetites, so with our sensations, in proportion as we attend to them will they dominate us until a single sensation of slight pain or discomfort may occupy our whole field of vision, making us unaware that there is any joy in living, any beauty in the earth." 
In the spirit of Charlotte Mason

Oh, so that's it!

This lengthy and unfashionable discussion about not letting children fuss over scratchy underwear, scraped knees, or food preferences (shouldn't they express their needs?), is suddenly climaxed by a bigger-picture idea: beauty and joy. (Remember the title of this chapter? Christmas Joy?)
"Well," said Frances, "things are not very good around here anymore. No clothes to wear. No raisins for the oatmeal. I think maybe I'll run away." ~~ A Baby Sister for Frances, by Russell Hoban
What do we see when we look out of our adult eyeballs, listen with our own ears? What is the view like? If it is too tedious or disgusting to encourage joy, do we have some stored-up inner landscapes that might suffice instead? (Thinking of green pastures and still waters is a proven three-thousand-year-old source of comfort.) Memorized words of beauty? Bits of music?

Referring back to an earlier passage, are we living objectively? Growing the Fruits of the Spirit? Choosing the Way of the Will? Or is it all "raisins for the oatmeal?" Feeling like we have a right to be grouchy?

Are we also able to be generous when others show their subjective shortcomings? (At the end of the book, the mother of Frances the Badger assures her that there will always be chocolate cake at their house.)

Things to Do This Week

Where we live, most stores are now filling up with Christmas goods. We don't have U.S. Thanksgiving to mark a "start to the holidays," but the accompanying Black Friday sales have become a Thing. Newspapers are starting to run articles on subjects like the tediousness of overplayed holiday music in stores. Beauty and joy don't seem easy to find in all that.

What did the 1977 Christmas Helps suggest at "6 Weeks Till Christmas?" Some unnervingly ugly circus-themed dolls. A few other crafts that might have been thought cute in 1977, but now just look tacky, like satin balls decorated with Phun Phelt.

I keep looking, and almost hidden by a potpourri doll and glue-dot place cards, there's something multipurpose and beautiful: "Candy Cones." You've seen these in old-fashioned Christmas or party books: cardboard circles glued or stapled into cone shapes, covered in pretty paper, trimmed up to one's personal taste, and hung with ribbon. Here's a brown-paper version. (I found that through a recently-posted ornament roundup on Prudent Penny Pincher. There are some great ideas in that article!)

Here's the beauty and joy part (besides the avoidance of Phun Phelt): you can make these any size and with anything you have, decorate them to any taste, and fill them with anything from candy, to greenery, to quotes and Scripture, or all three. Children can make them as easily as adults. They can be meeting take-homes, table favours, or a cheer-up gift. Little hanging cones can be tree ornaments, and larger ones can be hung on doorknobs or hooks.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving this month, consider decorating some as "thankfulness cornucopias."

Joy to the Earth!

Linked with Mason for Me at BRC Banter: