Festivals, Holidays, Inspiration, Sunday With Sarah

Finding Light Beyond the Glitter

Welcome back to Sunday with Sarah! It’s really nice to be with you again.

This has really become a highlight of my week — to just sit down, and connect with you, and share my thoughts.

It’s been a really busy week for me, and I bet it has been for you, too! It’s pretty hard to avoid this time of year, even if you don’t own a toy business. There are just so many events competing for our attention this time of year, it can become so stressful. With the commercialization of the holidays, it’s become just an orgy of buying and spending and parties and overeating.

I woke up this morning thinking about the word “holidays”, and what’s that’s come to suggest in this day and age, and remembering the root of the word: “holy days.” Holy days. So how do we find time, how do carve out time during this crazy time of year, to find what my friend Lynn Jericho calls “Inner Christmas?” (She’s got a great website I invite you to check out at

And how do we do that with children? How do we help them connect with the true meaning of this season?

I was grateful this week to my dear friend, Marcia Kimpton, another Waldorf early childhood teacher, who sent me a list that her former assistant created. It’s a list of activities she does with her children during the Advent season — one that can be performed each day during the weeks leading up to Christmas.

That list included things like:

  • Bake Cookies
  • Make a Paper Window Star
  • Make Cards
  • Make something for a neighbor and deliver it
  • Visit the Elderly
  • Make a Wreath

I’m sure you get the idea, and I’m sure you can think of many great ideas to add to such a list.

And I had a further thought: As a family you could write down one activity on a card or piece of paper, then put them all in a jar or a basket, and let your children pick one activity from the basket each day. It might be in the morning, after your children open the door on the Advent calendar.

Choose one activity from the basket to perform that day. Not a big task, not an all-day thing, but an activity that will let you take time away from the busyness, do something fun together, something that may be for others, something that helps bring the joy back into the season.

I would like to leave you with a passage from one of my favorite books on Waldorf education. It’s called The Recovery of Man in Childhood by A.C. Harwood.

I was reading this week a chapter about celebrating festivals with children, and he writes:

“The festivals, which have survived from older times, have become commercialized orgies of spending, and present-giving, and eating, and drinking. The child needs more than this. Civilization needs more than this. If we nourish the soul of the child by providing a spiritual experience of the rhythm of the seasons, it is also feeding a starving world.”

So, I invite you to reflect on that, and I welcome your comments this week. What other activities can you suggest that you can perform as a family with children, — simple activities to bring meaning to this time of year? And what ways have you found of slowing down during this busy time and connecting with the true meaning of the season to find soul nourishment for yourself?

Let me know, let others know. I welcome hearing from you. Have a peaceful and meaningful week., and see you next Sunday!

Please visit Lynn Jericho’s website for inspiration in finding  your own Inner Christmas.

What other activities with children can you suggest for a more meaningful holiday season?

What ways do you find to keep your inner light burning at this busy time of year?

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  • Reply Maggie December 9, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Hello Sarah,

    A lovely post!
    One thing we make during the Advent time is Christmas presents for our neighbors which we take to them during the 12 Days of Christmas up until Epiphany. We keep it in the spirit of the 12 Days of Christmas, similar to the famous song, so that the children make one painting on the first day and maybe make two bookmarks for the second day and so on until the 12th day when we take a small bag of homemade cookies (12) and take it to them. Our neighbors are always happy to see us coming down the path to see what goodies we bring this time around and the children are especially happy to create for others during this time of the year.

    • Reply Sarah Baldwin December 9, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      Beautiful, Maggie! The 12 Days of Christmas (Holy Nights) are such a special time for quiet reflection. That’s when I look forward to “keeping Christmas.” Lynn Jericho’s “Inner Christmas” website that I referenced focuses on this period of 12 days following Christmas.

      • Reply Maggie December 11, 2012 at 4:04 pm

        I know just what you mean. I also take it easy during those 12 days and focus on my inner Christmas as well, I have been working with Lynn’s Inner Christmas series for about 5 years now I think and it is renewed balsam for the soul to start the new year like this.

    • Reply Lolly December 10, 2012 at 12:30 am

      Maggie, I love this idea! We do a little something similar for Saint Nicholas’ Day (just the one day, though), creating a dozen or more packages we secretly deliver to neighbors–with chocolate coins, clementines, candy canes & nuts (traditional). I LOVE your idea of extending these gifts through the season & will consider adding that to our own rhythms as well. Thank you!

      • Reply Maggie December 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

        Thank you Lolly,
        I love your idea of playing St. Nicholas for your neighbors as well!
        I do not really remember how we came about doing this tradition to be honest, …. it just happened somehow and my son said one day, oh wouldn’t it be nice for the neighbors when we come all the 12 days like in that Christmas song…. that was about 4 years ago and we still like doing it. It also takes the focus off what will I get for Christmas, albeit to be honest so far I do not have any problems with ‘wants’ of my children. It is more the grandparents that are the problem as they keep asking me what the kids want and than I have to come up with some useful things for them. Luckily now in the grades my son can always use some things for school. :-)

  • Reply Lindsey Taber December 9, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    Do you have any ideas for beginning to teach Waldorf education to a toddler-preschooler? I would like to start teaching my daughter who is 18 months some Waldorf education, but am not sure where to start. Any great books that I could read? Any help would be wonderful! Love watching your blogs! Maybe you could do one on this?

  • Reply Sarah December 9, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Sarah! I loved the passage you read! Wonderful food for thought. And my additional thought is for parents with younger children. Mine are 5 and 2 and we are new to Waldorf in the last few years. It is very easy to get overwhelmed with so many festivals, Saint’s Days, advent activities, etc. And I am realizing in a major way this year, that taking many things off my list and remembering the importance of the basics of the early years (rhythm, LOTS of outside time, daily tasks and work with our hands) is what is giving my children that “spiritual meaning.” Being outside and seeing for ourselves how Mother Nature is putting her seed babies to rest is JUST as spiritual as telling a story of St. Nicholas and for my young ones, the outside time is what is making us able to cope with what Kim John Payne calls the “soul fever” that this time of year seems to bring on (especially for my oldest who is highly sensitive and much in her head!) Despite having my story all lined up and my gold coins at the ready, we just took St. Nicholas Day off our list this year. There are many more years to slowly introduce these ideas to my children.

  • Reply Lolly December 10, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Like Maggie, we do make our best efforts to focus in on what you referred to as the “true meaning” of this season. You mentioned the rhythms of some rituals that repeat annually in a child’s life. For us this is the beauty of the liturgical church, where colors change expectedly (like the seasons in nature), where candles are lit & certain hymns and songs are sung. These are the moments I anticipate with great joy every year. Ushering in the Christ child with contemplation and intention. We do NOT visit the mall nor shop in chain stores all season. I do most of my shopping in a single day online, then set everything aside till Christmas Eve, as we focus on Advent and then walk through Christmas all the way through Epiphany to January 6th, the 12th actual day of Christmas. I know that no matter what else may have gone awry all year this is the beginning of something new, and feel that calm or regeneration daily–thank God!

    • Reply Maggie December 11, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      I am right with you Lolly! :-)
      We do stay away from any shops or malls from the beginning of November onwards, most of my shopping is done throughout the year when I see something that our family or friends would like. So by the fall I am normally done with shopping, or making gifts for relatives and friends.
      This might not always get me the nice black Friday deals, but at least I know I do not have to worry about this coming Christmas time, the rest of the time is filled with school work until the Holidays (as we homeschool) and family time for us. The 12 days of Christmas are spent with games, outside time, fun and inner reflection time for me via Lynn’s Inner Christmas series. This makes Christmas really the most beautiful time of the year for us!

  • Reply Lindsey Taber December 10, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Thank you Sarah! Love that post! Full of helpful ideas! :) can’t wait to see more video blog posts from you.. Loving them! Take care and Merry Christmas!

  • Reply Cynthia December 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate you doing these videos for us. It was the deciding factor on who to order some holiday gifts from this year (I just placed my order with Bella Luna yesterday because I enjoy your videos so much).

    I tried to order the book in this video but Steiner Books has a photo of it but when you click on it, it says that no item is available, I’ll have to do some searching.

    Here is an exert from a FB post about the things we are doing this holiday season:

    A few of the experiences we have done or are planning to do include: a nature walk in our woods gathering holiday greenery and decorating our house, a week of stories about St. Nicholas, concluding with a few treasures found in their shoes, a trip to Lewis Ginter to see the lights, a spiral walk with friends, a St. Nicholas/Santa Lucia celebration at a friends house, baking saffron rolls and a week of Santa Lucia stories, The Charlottesville Holiday Bizzare trip with friends, a Yule celebration with friends, our own Yule celbration with a few presents, a trip downtown to see the lights and the trains, and four weeks celebrating advent with a little story about the mineral, plant, animal and human kingdoms for each of their weeks, a christmas meal with my grandmother, mother and father and a few more presents, and baking “holiday festive foods” instead of bread on our weekly “baking day”. I’d like to add a day of sleding, snowman building and snow angels to the list!

  • Reply Kym December 11, 2012 at 2:40 am

    We started a new tradition this year of an Advent Jesse Tree. Each night right after dinner, we take a moment to read one entry in a 25 day devotional for children that traces the ancient lineage and prophecy of the coming Messiah. The kids color a simple symbolic decoration to adorn the “Jesse” tree. It’s been easy to implement and is very meaningful.
    Thanks, Sarah. I am already looking forward to your post next week.

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