Nativity by Tintoretto (c.1550-1570)
We’re in the middle our term’s work and I wanted to continue our regular schedule in the lead up to Christmas but also allow room for celebrating Advent & preparing for Christmas. So what I’ve done is to stretch out a week’s work into one and a half to two weeks. I do this from time to time if I need to fit in extra things that I think are important or if we’ve had a lot of interruptions.
As in previous years I’ve adapted music appreciation, poetry, folk songs, picture study and handicrafts to the season and this year I’m reading A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens aloud and will also have some other Christmas books on hand for free reading.
We were reading of Scrooge’s encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Past in A Christmas Carol this week. In Dickens’ allegorical story the Ghost takes heartless old Scrooge back to the long forgotten scenes of his boyhood days:
‘The school is not quite deserted, said the Ghost. ‘A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still.’
They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a door at the back of the house. It opened before them, and disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, made barer still by lines of plain deal forms and desks. At one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire; and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self as he used to be.
I’ve read Dickens’ book before so I know the ending. It’s really a story of Redemption.
Scrooge is a grotty, detestable & wicked old man who cares for no one and deserves nothing but judgement…but the unbelievable happens and Scrooge is transformed. Dickens’ story illuminates what is at the heart of Christmas:
“The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” Luke 19:9
We’re listening to this folk song
again this year. It really does capture the joy and Good News of Christmas.
This year we’re listening to the full version of Handel’s Messiah. In the past we’ve used excerpts but Cindy’s Handel’s Messiah Schedule
for Advent has made it easy to fit in. Just 6 to 10 minutes a day in the lead up to Christmas is very do-able and if you haven’t started it yet there’s still time. A few of the pieces are very short so you could easily fit two into a week and get it done.
The approximate time for each section is included in Cindy’s post, but an outline of the different parts is here
which might be helpful and the text used by the singers is here.
The Story of Holly & Ivy by Rumer Godden
C.S. Lewis famously wrote that he was ‘almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story.’
I didn’t read this book when I was a child but I thought it was just lovely when I read it for the first time as an adult.
If you have a little girl (or a little boy) don’t miss this book. If you’re an older girl, like me 🙂 don’t miss it either.
Around the age of six and up would be a good time to give it to someone or it could be read aloud to a younger child – if you don’t mind having a cry while you’re reading. The edition below on the left is 57 pages long with charcoal illustrations throughout but the book was first published in 1958 and there have been numerous versions, including the one on the right below illustrated by Barbara Cooney.
Like teddy bears, the dolls held out their arms. Toys, of course, think the opposite way to you. ‘We shall have a little boy or girl for Christmas,’ said the toys.
The toys knew what homes were like from the broken dolls who came to the shop to be mended.
‘There are warm fires and lights,’ said the dolls, ‘rooms filled with lively things. We feel children’s hands.’
‘Bah! Children’s hands are rough,’ said the big toy owl who sat perched on a pretend branch below the dolls. ‘They are rough. They can squeeze.’
‘I want to be squeezed,’ said a little elephant.
The toys thought that all children have homes, but all children have not.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.”
1 Timothy 1:15