Serenity writes: This year Hanukkah falls on Thanksgiving for the first time since 1888. It won't happen again until 70,000 + years from now. So this Thanksgivakkuh is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hanukkah is a minor Jewish holiday. Although it is often compared to Christmas, the meaning is actually much more complementary to the meaning of Thanksgiving. Hanukkah commemorates the Maccabees who fought for religious freedom, and the miracle of the oil that burned in the temple for eight nights, when there was only oil enough for one. Thanksgiving commemorating the pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in pursuit of religious freedom and the gratitude for that first bountiful harvest.
The Living Arts: Social
Kerry writes: I grew up on the East Coast, lived for eleven years in a tiny ski town in Colorado and five years ago moved to the North Bay area of California. My westward migration opened my mind more and more, the closer I got to the Pacific. We settled in a small progressive town about an hour north of San Francisco in Sonoma County. The weather, beautiful coast, foods, and free-spirited lifestyle still feel like I'm on a long vacation. The biggest change is that all of the things in my life that were once considered "different" or "alternative," were very much the norm here. There are three Waldorf schools in town and, for a Waldorf teacher, this is really nice. Yes, for the job opportunities and to send my own child to one of these fine schools--but also because I was tired of being asked, "A Waldorf teacher? Like the salad?" Yes, like the salad.
If I had to choose one point—and only one point—to share with people about my keynote address at the conference, it would be the idea that many times when children say “No” to us, what they’re really trying to say is, “I don’t feel as connected to you right now as I wish I did.”
When we can hear a request for connection, we can respond much differently than we would if we were translating that “No” as, “I’m separate from you and don’t want to do what you want,” or, “I’m testing your boundaries and resolve and seeing if you really mean what you say.” What a profound difference, and what a profoundly different response we can give.
Jaimmie writes: Recently, a plumber came to LifeWays to repair the garbage disposal. At the time, we were getting dressed to go outdoors. As soon as they caught sight of the plumber with his toolbox, a group of little boys in hastily-assembled outdoor gear were in the kitchen doorway watching the “worker guy.” One by one, I coaxed the intent observers back to their hooks to finish dressing. We fixed backwards snow pants and adjusted an upside-down jacket, put on a missing boot and a discarded mitten. Throughout the entire process, the little fellas kept inching toward the kitchen and stealing glances at the plumber (all the girls were in preschool on this particular day).
For a number of years I’ve been completely in awe of how willing men are to “lean into” physical challenges. Not just football players and soccer stars, but skinny guys and computer geeks as well, as I witnessed a few years ago at a Ropes Course. Our group had to get everyone over a 12-foot-high, smooth wooden wall.
Editor's Note: To kick off May, albeit a bit late, I asked members of the LifeWays community to share how they celebrate festivals with chidlren. Sarah Baldwin, owner of Bella Luna Toys and author of Moonchild Blog, and Sarah's husband, Max Alexander, were kind enough to contribute pictures.
May Day and Maypole Dancing
We celebrate May Day to commemorate the beginning of spring, a renewal of energy and life, and a rejuvenation of our spirits. A popular way to celebrate is through creating and dancing around a Maypole. The Maypole is a tall pole decorated with flowers and greenery and festooned with ribbons that the dancers will then weave as they dance. This dance has been performed to celebrate spring and ensure the fertility that comes with the season.
Have you ever wanted to do something special for a festival and then thought, "No, I could never get all of the parents to keep their voices down/sit still/wear appropriate clothing/sing the same song"? See how Susan Siverio helps the parents at Spindlewood Waldorf Kindergarten and LifeWays Center, to prepare for their Advent Spiral in early December. She sets the scene, shares the adult symolism of the event, and asks that parents allow their children to have their own experiences, without the adult interpretations. How lovely.
I remember the day that the lesson really sank in for me: I was sitting on the couch, and the children in my care were playing all around me. There were two brothers playing nearby: Charles (age 2) and Jamie (not quite 4 years old). Jamie had a beanbag and was dropping it on Charles, over and over again.
It is the middle of November and I am in the midst of organizing the house, sorting and simplifying the “things” that have collected, and gathering new and recycled items to create presents for the holidays. My motivation for organizing and simplifying is two-fold right now. In part I do it for I love the cleaner, simpler look and our family finds more peace this way; I am also trying to get myself, my children, and my home ready to start caring for a little one in our home. Making or buying handmade gifts has become a new tradition of giving for my family.
His voice was slow and deep and practiced. The fire had already burnt down to embers and they lit his prickly face, deepening the wrinkled shadows that covered it. There was the slightest trace of a smile on his lips, which his pipe accentuated. He blew out a puff of smoke and started. We all leaned in. It is what we had been waiting for these last two weeks, every night begging for this moment. He hoisted the sails of his story and we took off.
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