Holiday Stress-Buster Tips!
1) break it up - don't have a big family blowout dinner and mass
gift swap. Instead, have a series of small ones. Start meeting the grandparent
families separately. We've had pizza at my husband's mother's for Christmas
Eve for years. This year we'll do it the 22nd and go to my mother's on
2) divide up the gifts - don't give them all at once. One of the
best ideas I ever had, when our dd was small, was to 'do' the 12 days of
Christmas similar to the way Jewish families do Chanukah. One gift per
day! This was wonderful! My kids got their stocking (don't eat me, my mother
made them special stockings) and one gift on Christmas Day. One gift (often
small) on each of the 12 days, and we have an UN-decorate party and a last
gift on Jan 6. This worked extra well because my son's birthday is Jan
12, and my nephew's is Jan 27, so we are able to even out the excitement
a bit. I distribute gifts from others throughout the days, too - making
sure that if the person is around they get to watch the child open it.
3) edit the religious services - don't try to attend everything!
For example, if you all go caroling, skip the next night's service. If
you go to the formal Teddy Bear Tea (laugh, I did one of these once), skip
the potluck dinner.
4) Do the specials and let the regular events slide a little -
but not totally, because maintaining something close to a normal schedule
5) avoid clutter - if you decorate, put away all the regular small
stuff first. Don't wind up with more stuff around than you had before.
For example, remove a large piece of furniture if you have a tree.
6) keep a detailed notebook. THIS is a pain, but I do it all year!
In it I keep a detailed list of what I got for each child, number of items,
approximate cost included. My daughter can calculate in a flash and turns
some small imbalance into major conflict.
7) Drill the children! In this case, I mean drill them in acceptable
responses to ANY gift. For example:
Q - Grandma gives you a purple coat two sizes too large. What
do you say, dear? A - Oh Grandma it's so beautiful! Thank you!
Q - Grandpa gives you a toy suitable for a baby. What do you say, dear?
A - Oh Grandpa, it's so cute! Thank you!
Q - The neighbor gives you a fruitcake that looks like an antique.
What do you say, dear? A - Thank you.
8) Anticipate difficult situations, even happy ones, and practice
answers with the children before the holidays - use your imagination and
encourage the children to dramatize their answers. The practice will be
worth it when your child is not the one that hurts the feelings of a precious
relative or friend.
Q - Grandma, whose long hair was a lovely silver, turns up with
purple curls. What do you say, dear? A - You look younger! Would you like
to read me a story?
A Christmas passage from
Original Home Schooling Series
by Charlotte Mason.
Volume 2, Parents and Children,
the 26th chapter, starting on p. 280.
The Eternal Child.
The Highest Counsel of Perfection to Parents.
Slowly they play, poor careful souls,
With wistful thoughts of Christmas cheer,
Unwitting how their music rolls
Away the burden of the year.
And with the charm, the homely rune,
Our thoughts like childhood's thoughts are given,
When all our pulses beat in tune
With all the stars of heaven.'
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, sorry, or any other adversity do
not sit down to the Christmas feast of joy and thanksgiving; for, indeed,
a Benjamin's portion 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.
But it is not so where there are children. The old, old story
has all its first freshness as we tell it to the eager listeners; as we
listen to it ourselves with their vivid interest it becomes as real and
fresh to us as it is to them. Hard thoughts drop away like scales from
our eyes; we are young once more with the children's young life, which,
we are mysteriously made aware, is the life eternal. What a mystery it
is! Does not every mother, made wise unto salvation, who holds a babe in
her arms, feel with tremulous awe that, that deep saying is true for her
also, 'The same is my mother'?
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. This is, perhaps, the real secret of the
world's progress - that every babe comes into the world with an evangel,
which witnesses of necessity to his parents' hearts. That we, too, are
children, the children of God, that He would have us to be as children,
is the message that the newborn child never fails to bear, however little
we heed, or however soon we forget. It is well that parents should ponder
these things, for the child's estate is a holy one, and it is given to
his parents to safeguard the little heir of blessedness." by Charlotte
Merry Christmas to All,
And to All a Good Read!
Toys, Read-Alouds for Little Ones,
Books for Young Readers,
Special for Boys, Special for
Inspiration for Adults, Computer
Greenleaf books is recommending these toys from Rainfall Educational
Toys as being of good quality:
Littlest Angel by Charles Tazwell, Illustrated by Paul Micich
Little Baby* written and illustrated by Sylvia Long
Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski
Ruth Graham's One
Wintry Night by Ruth Bell Graham, Richard Jesse Watson (Illustrator)
Christmas Day Kitten by James Herriot
; story also included in his Treasury
Paul Evans' "The Christmas Box"
Christmas Stories (Junior Deluxe edition) by Charles Dickens
"Brambly Hedge," the author is Jill Barklem
Lion in a Box by Marguerite de Angeli.
It is a true story of an immigrant Austrian family
living in New York City at the turn of the century.
is for Bethlehem by Isabel Wilner
illustrated by Elisa Kleven
Bible Alphabet: A Pop-Up Book by Keith Moseley
"From God with Love" by Mack Thomas.
helps children understand the Gospel through the colors of Christmas.
Out of print. The ISBN is 0-945565-78-3
"Night Tree" by Eve Bunting
about a family who every year prepares edible Christmas decorations
(natural items) for the animals
_Long Ago When I Was Young_
is a collection of Edith Nesbit's memories of her childhood in 1860's
England. It also has beautiful line drawings by Edward Ardizzone, and watercolors
by George Buchanan.
"Too Many Mittens" by Florence and Louis Slobodkin
"Has Winter Come?" by Wendy Watson
"Papa Panov's Special Day" retold by Mig Holder from Tolstoy
"The Tale of Three Trees" retold by Angela Hunt
"Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree" by Robert Barry
"The Doubleday Christmas Treasury" (compiled by Jane Olliver)
"Easy-to-Make Decorative Paper Snowflakes" by Dover