Here is this week's passage from Parents and Children, by Charlotte Mason:
"It is curious to observe how every function of our most complex nature may have its subjective or its objective development. The child may eat and drink and rest with most absolute disregard of what he is about, his parents taking care that these things are happily arranged for him, but taking equal care that his attention shall not be turned to the pleasures of appetite. But this is a point that we hardly need to dwell upon, as thoughtful parents are agreed that children's meals should be so regularly pleasant and various that the child naturally eats with satisfaction and thinks little or nothing of what he is eating; that is, parents are careful that, in the matter of food, children shall not be self-regardful.In the spirit of Charlotte Mason:
"Perhaps parents are less fully awake to the importance of regulating a child's sensations. We still kiss the place to make it well, make an obvious fuss if a string is uncomfortable or a crumpled rose-leaf is irritating the child's tender skin. We have forgotten the seven Christian virtues and the seven deadly sins of earlier ages, and do not much consider in the bringing up of our children whether the grace of fortitude is developing under our training."
Those of us over a certain age often lament the disappearance of Dandelion Wine childhoods: much unsupervised play outdoors, mostly fun but occasionally punctuated by bee stings, rusty nails, and falls from swings or bikes. Some of us grew up in rough conditions; others were brought up surrounded by hand-wipes and told (by the Aunt Franceses in our lives) that every little pain should be attended to. How are we to find a middle way between raising children in Spartan toughness (what some would call abuse), and as fearful hothouse flowers (what some would call abuse)?
We want to give so much to our children. The problem is that we often want to give them the wrong things, the things that aren't good for them in the long run. The irony is that there are so many gifts we can give them freely, gifts that are good for a lifetime: initiative, curiosity, endurance, compassion. The ability to reason and choose, to will and act.
And for ourselves? The grace of fortitude is also a gift. It reminds us that we can and must carry on, even if that includes a climb up Mount Doom. Somebody or something needs us, calls us to come; maybe to do a little job, maybe a big one; maybe to be a little hero, maybe to be a big one.
Things to do this week:
Read a book that reminds you of the grace of fortitude and the gift of not taking oneself too seriously. If you can't think of one, Jayber Crow might be a good choice. Gilead is another possibility. (Your ideas?)
Fewer people send actual Christmas cards these days, especially through the mail. But cards, notes, and little gifts can be sent any time of year. I have one friend who made a practice of sending random acts of chocolate. Some people prefer phone calls, or in-person visits.
If you like to make cards, now is a good time to start, or at least round up supplies.
It's also the right time to do a little stealth shopping for things that sell out long before Christmas. The local store might have a limited supply of Stash White Christmas Tea, and that would be sad to miss. (I had no idea when I wrote this that Stash was discontinuing this tea, or at least offering it only in loose form. A tradition disappears?)
(But not the end of the world, right? Fortitude.)