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Christmas and New Year Rituals

© Beverley Paine

One ritual I started a few years back is to put all my photos collected for the year in photo albums on New Year's Day. It's a way of remembering the past and then going on to the new year, which we often discuss in the traditional way (resolutions & wishes). I invite everyone to help or just look over the old photo albums. Sometimes the interest is limited since I have teenagers that like to go their own way. But it's good to have a time to get this job done and eventually they may appreciate it more.

Another idea is to devise an advent calendar of activities. Draw or make your calendar but have activities relating to the meaning of Christmas for each day as you count down to Christmas Day. You could make decorations one day, build a Nativity another day, visit Father Christmas, wrap and take presents to the tree for the less fortunate children, visit sick people in hospital, or a senior citizens hospice, make Christmas treats to donate to Meals on Wheels. There are so many activities you can think of to bring a different meaning to Christmas this year.

Perhaps you could do a good deed or perform an act of service each day to your family. It only takes a little effort, and instead of the usual hustle and bustle of Christmas excitement it would help[ to focus everyone's attention on the real meaning of Christmas. Christmas is traditionally a time of peace and goodwill. It would be great if we could extend that feeling beyond the one day this year!

I once picked this gem up from Lionel Fifield, from The Relaxation Centre, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane and thought it worth revisiting:

Christmas is usually a party-mas, a big eating-mas, a present-mas, a card-mas, a booze-mas, and a stress-mas. When one wishes someone a happy Christmas one is usually hoping the individual copes with such a concentration of masses.

Let's make Christmas Day, and why not the whole year, a time when we listen to those close to us, see the beauty of nature, realise the worthiness of ourselves, see the friendship in others, taste and smell the delights that abound and take time to be still, so that we can feel and sense anew. Christmas is, for most of us, a special time of the year. Let's not waste it in the sameness, but revel in the opportunities it provides, so that we give ourselves the greatest gift of all - a new start. What a joy to start again with such a fund of experiences and wisdom behind us.

Perhaps it is time for us to enjoy a mass of qualities which nurture, embrace, enrich, inspire and facilitate a new level of celebration and a real sense of the essence of Christmas.

Kids Making Presents

Home educated kids seem to be so creative so it's no wonder they love to make things to give as presents. Here are some ideas we've done in the past:

· A fabric painted pillow case or t'shirt is a wonderful personalised gift. Fabric crayons are great, and not to messy, although if you are game you get experiment with screen printing or block printing (borrow a book from the library to help you out with instructions). You can also buy special printing sheets which can transfer a design of the computer (including words as well as pictures) onto fabric!

· Another great idea includes painting terracotta pots with flowers or any other design, and then varnishing them after. You can pot it up with something nice, or just include a small bag of potting mix, a punnet of annuals, or perhaps some herb seeds

· Glass jars with cork lids are easy to get hold of. You can decorate the lid with almost anything you like, but gum nuts and things look really good. Fill the jar with your friends favourite yummy food, or make some biscuits or sweets!

· Or you could make a simple photo frame from stiff cardboard, cover it with beautiful fabric or wrapping paper, decorate it with shells, dried flowers, etc, and pop in a photo or special verse!

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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.

Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

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