Life

So it’s not a perfect Christmas?

So it’s not a perfect Christmas? You didn’t get the presents all wrapped or bought or you didn’t have money to buy presents at all. People forgot you. Or you forgot someone.

You’re tired or someone else is tired or grumpy .

You didn’t get to all those little traditions, the candles, the crafts. Or you did and they, those kids, that family, just didn’t want to cooperate or join in,

The car breaks down.

The dishwasher breaks.

You burn the turkey (God forbid!).

You are away from the ones you love. You feel unloved.

You feel alone or you wish you could be alone. Memories abound, happy and unhappy.

You know what?

It doesn’t matter. It plain and simple, doesn’t matter.

It’s Christmas for God’s sake. A time for prayer and reflection. For praying at the crèche of the Child Jesus. It’s time for little things and big things: smiles, saying hello, watching a movie, listening to music. Reading a book. Having a glass of wine. Or two. Or a cup of hot tea in a festive mug.

A perfect Christmas doesn’t exist. For Christmas, like life, is full of the spectrum of humanness and of the Divine. We humans bring our grief, our sorrows, our grumpiness, our dark sides, our joy, our laughter, our love, our light sides to Christmas. And The Christ Child meets us there, in all of our Christmases and in our life. In the entire spectrum of life and emotions. With Love.

This is it. This is Christmas. With the nativity of Our Lord and with an attitude of embracing it all, the good and the bad. Love it all. It’s life. Even at Christmas.

Life, Unschooling

December

It’s December, it’s Advent, it’s nearly Christmas. It’s time to take stock of the year. It’s time to think about the new year, that word for the year.

It’s a bit like starting a new school year. I loved that as a child. This was going to be the year that I would always be neat in my book, always be perfect. I loved opening a brand new, pristine, as yet untouched exercise (school) book. It felt like a new slate.

It’s also a bit like having a new baby. Ah, this time I will get it right, I’d think. This time I would be that perfect mother, do everything well, feed my baby and myself only natural foods.

That’s how I feel about a new year. A chance to do it right.

And even though I know there is no right, even though I know I will mess up and be me and that is okay, even then I still feel a small thrill. And a small sense of dread.

In taking stock of a year, we can grieve. We can smile.We can remember hurts and sorrows, we can remember the joy and smiles.

If something is not working, we can change it. Often times, it is a change that helps. Doing something replaces the inertia. “If it can be done now, do it now.” (Ruth Fields, in the book GYST).

If things are flowing, go with the flow. “A good life, a really productive life, exists because of all the action taken daily to sustain it.” Ruth Fields, GYST again.

For me, that means the little things that sustain. Little things like prayer. Reconciliation. Mass. Exercise. Smiling as a conscious act. Saying hi to a son and texting a friend. Lighting the Advent candle. Having dinner with whomever is home. Decorating or cooking for the liturgical year.

For while waiting for big things to change, or waiting to instigate change, or even when big things can’t change, the little things can sustain us. In taking stock of the year that was we can remember the little things. In planning for the new year, we can remember the little things.

They count, they count towards the year that was. They count towards the new, even if slightly smudged, slate.

They count. They count.

Catholicism, Life, Unschooling

The darker side

We always post the bright side of our lives, don’t we?

Bright, happy homeschooling families.

And rightly so. Because memories are made of this.Because there can be so much sadness in the world, so much negativity, that we want to show the positives of our families, our homeschooling, our lives.

But I wonder sometimes if we do ourselves a disservice.

Maybe sometimes we should post a little about the darker side. The days, months, years even, that things don’t go the way we want. The way they should.

When we are in this dark side, it seems as though nothing can help. Not bright words, not prayer offered as a simple panacea, not cheery positive thoughts, not gratitude lists, not self-help books, not inspirational stories, not sympathy, not people ignoring your plight.

What does help, then?

Time and inner, deep prayer. A cry out. A cry. Tears. Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine. Psalm 130.

Yes, even Christian homeschooling families, suffer upsets, dysfunction, worries, depression.

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A bright day

But you know what? There is a brighter side to the darkness. One day, the cloud doesn’t seem so dark. The burden seems lighter. You reach for that prayer book on your bedside table.

That self-help book you disdainfully tossed aside just a short while ago now seems to offer hope. Your perception changes. You heal. You tell yourself you can do this.

In the end, by telling about the dark side, by sharing the way through, we model for our children, and for others, the true strength of Christ and the value of homeschool, through thick and thin.

Preparation for life? Heck, no, it is life.