Do you know what happens when you're trying very hard to tie your studies into Christmas preparation without (1)completely abandoning what you've previously been studying for the season or (2) barreling ahead with the same old thing and hoping that your children don't notice the rest of the world preparing for Christmas? You say a prayer and you google "Fairy Tale Christmas." And you get this amazing book. It's been a long time since I was this excited about a book--a big, beautiful book brimming with stunning photographs, tea time ideas, and fairy tales. A Christmas book. A book written by a former editor of Faith and Family and photographed by a former art director from Victoria magazine. Did I mention that this is a Christmas Fairy Tale Book? A Christmas Fairy Tale Book!
This is so, so serendipitous! Just as we are reveling in all things fairy at Serendipity, I am introduced to Karen Anderson's brilliant book. Mrs. Anderson takes us through a magically decorated "castle" in Tarrytown, New York. In each of fifteen rooms, a different fairy tale comes to life. My children have spent over an hour oohing and ahhing over the exquisite photographs. But that's not all. Not by a long shot. Each fairy tale is told within the pages of the book. And for each tale, we are treated to menus for teas, or suppers, or even a breakfast or two. With each fairy tale, there is incredibly interesting commentary. Sometimes, we learn a great deal about the classic symbolism; often we learn about faith. For instance, I will look at this year's Nutcracker Ballet very differently now that I understand how The Prince's dance with Clara is actually reminiscent of the Russian Orthodox marriage rite.
So...great, great book. Now, what's the plan?
The plan, I think, is to diverge from The Alphabet Path from now until January. We'll still practice math with the gnomes and their gemstones and we'll continue our language study (which Stephen has declared his favorite part of school). We'll focus on Old Testament history, read in the light of the Nativity, using a Jesse Tree. We've begun to make new symbols out of felt and I've prepared new Main Lesson books, particularly for Advent. I've also promised my children that we will celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas with a day of beeswax and icons, inspired by The Miracle of St. Nicholas. Of course, just as always, we'll snuggle through Advent reading our favorite books and celebrating all the familiar feasts of the season. I know all the books will be read, but we will pick and choose from among the activities. We should have plenty of time this year to add something new and utterly enchanting.
So, we'll take our study of fairies in literature into our Christmas preparation. It's going to be both simple and beautiful. Simple, because it's really all in this one book. We'll make the few decorations for which there are instructions. We'll prepare the recipes. We'll read the stories and we'll learn a little more about each tale. I am sure that there will be more as we go. I just got the book three hours ago;-). The first hour, I looked at it with my girls. The second hour, I talked to Katherine about it (have to have a partner in
crime creativity). And now I'm here, because I'm just so pleased with this idea that I wanted to tell you about it. This is going to be just the right balance of academics and special family preparation. Like our time with Tomie de Paola, I think we will take from this time of fairy tales during Advent some new family traditions. And it will be beautiful because I can't imagine anything inspired by this book to be anything less than beautiful. You might like to join us. C'mon, let's have ourselves a fairy tale Christmas!