The kids had been waiting for days for Tree Cutting Day. Going out to get the tree on the farm is so rich with memories for all of us. This year, I couldn’t go, so our daughter Carrie took photographs for me to treasure.
I waited at home for them to come back. When I saw the sheep skitter across the knoll, I knew they were on the way. First, I saw Caroline come around the bend, pulling the sled with Georgie on it. Not far behind were the rest of the children, talking, laughing, skipping. Last, came an enormous tree with two pair of legs, boughs jauntily bouncing to the rhythm of their steps. I couldn’t believe what a gift I have been given in these people, in this place.
“I could leave the world with today in my eyes.” – Truman Capote (from A Christmas Memory)
The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found? – J. B. Priestley
Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. – Thomas Merton
A maple wood bowl filled with sweet fern and acorns.
I used to believe that happiness was a matter of intensity. I craved stimulation of all the senses, all the time. I needed to feel life in order to be sure I was alive.
Over the last year, I’ve had more stimulation of the senses than I could ever have dreamed. We all have. That constant onslaught makes you tender and sore. It makes you crave quietude. And it often makes happiness feel elusive. We forgot how to be happy in the storm that is trauma. Trauma is evil. Trauma steals all good things. It is hell.
And then Brian and I had a talk at a restaurant dinner table recently…
We were working through strategies for bringing back an abundance of peace and joy, hope and love into our home. I think we both started out thinking that we had to plan an elaborate distraction – a weekend away in a totally new environment with new adventures. But in the end, it was the small things that we decided would make the most difference – order and rhythm would restore balance and harmony.
The gentle, orderly rhythm that is provided by our prayer life and homeschool studies, the flow of the liturgical seasons, the joy of marking holidays and holy days with simple, joyful celebrations. That is what heals the soul, what brings happiness back to the hearth, what dispels darkness.
“If geography is prose, maps are iconography.” Lennart Meri
It has been a light week here since we finished our main lesson block on Tuesday. So today, Louis and Sophie made up a game to play with the United States map. It’s rather like that game you play with a group of dots where each player takes a turn making a line between two dots and the one who closes the box claims it. Louis won this time ’round.
Then the older kids worked together to locate both state and national capitals. And then made the map of the world look like a nice game of Global Thermonuclear Warfare. It was at once amusing and slightly unsettling. The winner for the longest range missile is Tonga, which managed to reach Japan going round the long way.
Geography was my favourite subject growing up and I’m extremely gratified that my own children are having so much fun with it, too.
In case you’re curious, our pretty maps are from National Geographic, and our frames are from Michael’s. The latter are wood with a plastic sheet to protect the maps. We just use regular dry erase markers.