Monday, October 02, 2017

Christmas Countdown with Charlotte Mason, Week 1 of 12: Catching Echoes of Joy

Where I live, the weather has just turned from summery-hot to fall-nippy, and Canadian Thanksgiving is almost here. On Sunday morning we could see frost-covered roofs  Unless you are sewing a quilt or planning a massive Christmas dinner, why think about the holidays so far ahead? 

And stranger than that, what does Charlotte Mason have to do with Christmas? She's just about homeschooling, isn't she?

Over the next twelve weeks, I will be posting passages from Miss Mason, on the theme of humility. They are all taken from the last chapter of her book Parents and Children. Here is the first one:
"Children necessary to Christmas Joy––In these levelling days we like to think that everybody has quite equal opportunities in some direction; but Christmas joy, for example, is not for every one in like measure. It is not only that those who are in need, sorrow, or any other adversity do not sit down to the Christmas feast of joy and thanksgiving; for, indeed, a Benjamin's portion [Benjamin received five times as much as the others]  is often served to the sorrowful. But it takes the presence of children to help us to realise the idea of the Eternal Child. The Dayspring is with the children, and we think their thoughts and are glad in their joy; and every mother knows out of her own heart's fulness what the Birth at Bethlehem means. Those of us who have not children catch echoes. We hear the wondrous story read in church, the waits chant the tale, the church-bells echo it, the years that are no more come back to us, and our hearts are meek and mild, glad and gay, loving and tender, as those of little children; but, alas, only for the little while occupied by the passing thought. Too soon the dreariness of daily living settles down upon us again, and we become a little impatient, do we not, of the Christmas demand of joyousness...

 "Every Babe bears an Evangel––For the little child is the true St Christopher: in him is the light and life of Christ; and every birth is a message of salvation, and a reminder that we, too, must humble ourselves and become as little children…" ~~ Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children, Chapter 26: "The Eternal Child"
This beginning seems a bit depressing on its own, especially for those of us whose houseful-of-small-children season is over. What does she expect us to do, rent some for the holidays? But as the chapter goes on, we will see that her focus is not on having physical children around, but on the value of a childlike humility. Less I, me, mine. Less embarrassment over my mistakes. Less worry over how others might view my life, my home, my family. Less attachment to my stuff. More of what Amy Carmichael called Calvary Love.

How do we let go of ourselves, our own demands and expectations, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ? If we do have children in our care, how can we best allow them to hold on to what should be their special gift? Miss Mason will expand on these questions as the chapter continues.

In the spirit of Charlotte Mason

Unless you really are sewing quilts or organizing a village feast at Christmas, feel free to spend the early weeks of preparation on...not preparing. Not in busyness, anyway.

Seek out and enjoy whatever natural changes are happening where you live. For some people, that unfortunately may include the remnants of storms, floods, and other disasters. Cherish signs of rebirth, new life. Look for ways to become involved in caring for the earth and restoring what has been broken.

Even if you don't have children at home, you can choose a composer, a songwriter, or a different style of music to listen to throughout the fall. This is a CD I'm considering purchasing myself.

Good books (of course).

Take time to focus on other people, little ones or big ones, with the purpose not of changing them, but of knowing them as born people.

1 comment:

Dawn said...

I'm looking forward to this series! Intentionally slowing down and soaking in the season is one benefit of schooling from Jan-Dec in our home. We take most of November and all of December off rather than doing so for the traditional summer break. I love this time together as a family!!