SummaryNick Marmelejo says for us to remember that the pressures or stresses we have as homeschooling parents should not overshadow the coming of the Christ Child.
As I write, summer is winding down and the holiday season approaches.
This time of year can be a blessing, a cross to bear, or more than likely a combination of both for our particular homeschool. In my experience, the holidays—that period of time roughly between All Hallows Eve and Candlemas—has a tendency to dominate our attention and daily interactions.
Okay, at least my attention.
Certainly, a holiday fascination here in the U.S. is more than strongly encouraged by the world around us—from store shelves and Christmas ads to the Hallmark Channel, and folks on social media parading out their Christmas ornaments in July. We are inundated.
By the time one is an adult, the annual ethos of “this is what we do right now” has been drummed into us. Avoid these cultural rituals at your own peril, lest you fail to celebrate the season successfully and thus fail to be a complete human being—or so the implication goes.
All of this has the potential to derail or enhance our homeschool.
“Leisure” comes from the Latin word licere, which means “to be allowed.” Interestingly, this Latin root also provides English with the word “license.”
After even a few holiday seasons in our culture, especially as a kid, a belief naturally emerges in us that, once this time zone is entered, we come to believe that the holidays are a license for leisure. We feel entitled to it. Work? That is for the puritanicals and should be shunned, at least avoided.
When faced with the Fundamentals of Grammar or Math 6, the obvious choice is that snowball fights and hot chocolate are preferred. The excuse to prepare for or embrace the particular holiday celebration or seasonal moment continually looms, and as parents, it is difficult to stay on track.
Add in the pressures of family coming from out-of-town and the local social gatherings, and school often seems only to inch forward. Its importance dims, and the penitential character of Advent takes on different dimensions.
Of course, two answers to all of these exterior pressures are discipline and fortitude. Leisure is good but in its proper place. Much like wine or any other beverage of choice, sip too much of it and things begin to spin out of control.
Balance is required.
Yet something of a reactionary spirit is needed to maintain this posture in our cultural climate. Few of us want to be labeled an old curmudgeon who can’t enjoy himself, especially by our kids. Few of us want to miss out on the fun. So what to do?
With a little creativity and additional legwork, the positive aspects of society’s popular feelings about the holidays can be harnessed and enjoyed. They can become a time for education, a study of the traditions of our Faith and country. In fact, that is one thing culture is supposed to do—educate.
The study of history and seasonal practices seems like an obvious example here, or simply learning more about the processes involved that make it holiday celebrations possible, such as baking and animal husbandry.
Granted that is not greatly enriching for subjects like Math 6 or Advanced Algebra, but some forays into the real world from the theoretical are appropriate, even for the math-science folks. As it happens, that is where the theory gets applied.
I suppose the main consideration here is to look for opportunities to embrace the holiday spirit for education’s sake. This has worked well in my own homeschool. It keeps learning fresh, exciting, and relevant, and the imagination primed.
It also provides a personal context for what is being learned. It is one thing to read about historic mills in a history book. It is another to visit one in the late Fall, see it in action, and taste what will become the Yuletide product.
A deeper understanding of seemingly mundane processes can imbue your seasonal celebrations with greater meaning.
At Seton, we encourage you to remember that the many exterior pressures or stresses we experience uniquely as homeschooling parents should not overshadow the coming of the Christ Child.
All things are passing, and regardless of how things go, when this season ends and fades into the folds of time, the only thing that ultimately matters is whether or not we remained focused on Christ.