Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas Countdown with Charlotte Mason, Week 11 of 12

Two weeks till Christmas!
Here is this week's passage from Charlotte Mason's book Parents and Children:
"...As a child becomes self-regardful in any function of his being, he loses the grace of humility. This is the broad principle; the practical application will need constant watchfulness and constant efforts, especially in holiday seasons, to keep friends and visitors from showing their love for the children in any way that shall tend to develop self-consciousness.

"Humility the Highest Counsel of Perfection––This, of humility, is not only a counsel of perfection, but is, perhaps, the highest counsel of perfection and when we put it to parents, we offer it to those for whom no endeavour is too difficult, no aim too lofty; to those who are doing the most to advance the Kingdom of Christ."
In the spirit of Charlotte Mason:
"A soul without a center has difficulty making a decision." ~~ John Ortberg, Soul Keeping
"The simple, rectified Will, what our Lord calls 'the single eye,' would appear to be the one thing needful for straight living and serviceableness." ~~ Charlotte Mason, Ourselves
How much would you pay for the perfect gift for someone special?

How far would you drive? How long and cold a line would you wait in? What else would you give up to pay for someone's dearest wish?

Here's the bad news: the best gift parents can give children demands all we have to give, and costs all we have. It asks more commitment and courage than nailing a Cabbage Patch Kid in 1983.

Here's the good news: the price is counted in love. And shipping is free.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends... (ESV)

Things to do this week:

Two weeks before Christmas, the 1977 magazine made a last-minute stab at decorations and gifts, before turning things over to food (that's for the last week). But seriously, why? If one found oneself sewing a baseball-glove pajama bag trimmed with baby rickrack this close to Christmas, or building a nativity-scene stable out of pretzel sticks with Snowy White Ornamental Frosting, it would be a clear sign that one had fallen over the edge of sanity. At least the brightly-coloured figures in the nativity-scene photo were Mexican handicrafts and not part of the pretzel deal; I was afraid they would also turn out to be something edible.

Simplicity blogger Courtney Carver recommends making choices by asking if an action or an object creates love. In Jan Karon's Mitford books, Father Tim often begins his daily activities by repeating the prayer "Make me a blessing to someone today." Charlotte Mason warns that we must guard against becoming "self-regardful." (Self-consciousness implies tripping over your own feet, so I think self-regard is a more useful phrase here.) In each case, our focus turns away from ourselves. We worry less about the externals, and what people think of us (so we do become, literally, less self-conscious).

And in that case, if we find ourselves even considering making a pretzel stable two weeks before Christmas, we need to ask why it matters. Do we have a surplus of pretzel sticks and desperately need a stable? Is this going to be a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with a young child who actually would enjoy sticking pretzels together? Will this set a precedent so that we will never be able to get through another Christmas without making a pretzel stable? Would we be better off spending that time outdoors together and just snacking on the pretzels? If the idea of building a stable (or something) carries the right spark, but the pretzels and frosting are too much (especially if someone thinks of adding candy or sprinkles to the stable; Jesus a.k.a Hansel and Gretel?): then maybe something created from natural materials would work better.

Does an activity create love? Is it a blessing to someone? Is it egoistic, or altruistic?

See, now we're cooking.

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