Monday, December 19, 2011

I'll Be Home(schooling) For Christmas

Every year, we take the entire month of December off from our homeschool lessons so we can enjoy the Christmas season. My expectations for this time of year are always wholly idealized and rarely realized.  

What can I say? I'm a dreamer, and I don't care who knows it!

Whatever letdown I might experience when my plans are frustrated is sort of forgotten from year to year (kind of like the "discomfort" of childbirth--my mother raised me not to use the word "pain" in relation to the birthing process--that is reduced enough in our memory that we're willing to do it again.  Smart thinking, God!). So, as each December approaches I gear up, full of hope and anticipation, for a month full of nostalgic Christmas carols and inspiring worship services and creative baking and classic Christmas movie watching and stress-less thoughtful gift-giving! 

Despite staying committed to packing away the books on December 1st each year, all those lovely things just never seem to happen. I see the stretch of school-less weeks before us and the expanse of free time and what do I do? I fill it! I over-commit, my specialty, and the next thing I know, I'm frantically whipping up some cookies on December 23rd, more to avoid a feeling of failure than to enjoy the spirit of the season.

(A quick aside here and a little insider tip if you receive a Christmas-themed Chinese take-out box of rum balls from me: The strength of the rum balls is directly proportionate to the level of failure I'm feeling at the time. If your confection has just a hint of something that might be rum or might just be rum extract, then I was jolly and felt that I was pouring enough Christmas spirit from my heart into my baking.  If, on the other hand, you eat one of my rum balls and your lips go numb and you don't feel comfortable breathing while lighting the candles of your Advent wreath, well, let's just say that rum ball is probably also mixed with tears).

This year, things are different. Because we planned a two week vacation in November, we decided not to take December off.  When the first of December rolled around, the girls were ready to pack up their books as usual, despite the fact that we had only been back in town less than a week. When I reminded them we wouldn't be taking December off, they were horrified. 

We haven't succeeded in doing our schoolwork every single day and we'll definitely be doubling-up in January, but a curious thing has happened as we've continued to plug away at our lessons most days. We've baked a lot of cookies. We've watched a lot of Christmas movies. We actually did a craft that involved glitter and glue, two substances that should be illegal, in my opinion. The girls have choreographed The Twelve Days of Christmas. We only have Daddy left to shop for. We haven't quite finished decorating and I've decided not to send out a Christmas card for the first time since 1994. I still want to find time to take the girls for a picture with Santa, because I have a sad feeling that their belief in him will be packed away with the ornaments and lights this year.
I woke up today and decided we are not going to crack the books this week after all, but we are still going to learn.  Our lesson plans have been revised and simplified as follows:

  • Reading: Luke 2:1-21; Usborne children's adaptation of Dickens' A Christmas Carol; Van Allsburg's The Polar Express (I usually read this to them myself but they can never understand the last page because my "voice gets funny")
  • Writing:  Re-write letter to Santa, fill out gift tags, address mailing labels
  • 'Rithmatic (specifically, fractions): Measure ingredients for various baking projects, doubling when necessary
Will we still be doing schoolwork in July?  Maybe. 

Am I feeling like a failure about it?  Try one of my rum balls this year and decide for yourself.

No tears (or rum).  Just love.


Tracy said...

The same thing happens when I read "The Polar Express"! My kids always end up peering at me with a perplexed frown on their faces, asking, "Are you CRYING, Mommy?" I always say, no, there was a little pepper left between my teeth from dinner and it just fell out and burned my throat. They NEVER buy it. At this point, it's as much of a tradition as stockings on Christmas Eve. I cry, they peer and ask, I lie.

Julie said...

Thanks for a good read. I always enjoy your writing.
This year we decided to take December off. With our move and the holidays, I just couldn't imagine fitting one more thing in. Now just a couple weeks in, I am rethinking my choice. As he wanders around bored...I think I might have to work on finding some holiday appropriate material.

Anonymous said...

You have absolutely made my DAY with this post........I have been feeling the anxiety of Christmas when trying to balance my lesson plans and I finally gave it to God. We have been doing our fractions as well with the double/tripling of the recipes and I am finally feel more at ease. Or it may just be the valium talking. Either way, I am almost certain we will be doing school well into July this year due to the extended illnesses she has had and our Christmas season, but I finally decided, I will be a happier person in the here and now. And, my daughter will get to appreciate the Christmas season and not rush hurriedly through it in order to check the boxes. Although mind you, check the boxes is where I am at my most comfortable. I am so glad to know that this is a struggle of others. Especially for a mom I consider a pro and a seasoned Homeschooler. Thanks for sharing!!! Merry Christmas Mora's and If I were a betting woman, I would bet your rum balls are not in the least bit lip numbing this year!! ;-)