Merry Christmas!

xmas14 009A Christmassy extract from ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ to put you in the mood….

…The girls were so excited in the back of the car on the way to their first Home Ed Christmas party the books were abandoned.

“Are we there yet?”

“Not far now.” I was quite excited too. We were meeting at a garden centre where there was a Santa’s Grotto, a place for them to have lunch together and a feast of decorations.

The children all sat together round one table and the parents sat at another one. The children behaved impeccably raising many smiles from the groups of old folks also on their Christmas outings. The parents got dirty looks and disdainful glares because of all the giggling they were doing.

I think I enjoyed the walk through the magical wonderland they’d created even more than the kids because I could more readily accept that the reindeer were stuffed and the kids were a bit superior about it. But at least the older children kept the Santa secret alive for the younger ones, unlike at school where Chelsea had her dreams shattered very quickly. Then at the very end there were real reindeer all soft and sad eyed and reeking of animals, a smell that always brings nostalgia having kept a horse for years.

The best bit was the camaraderie and friendship that circled the group in a mutual feeling of care and support. We’d found our community.

We swapped the still sticky, glitter shedding cards with our other home schooled friends and left with a trail of crafty bits dropping in our wake.

The girls sat contentedly all the way home clutching their present and a little Christmas tree sapling ready to plant. The minute we got home we had to go out in the dark and find pots and soil and get them planted. I sniff them occasionally as they take me back to childhood and the smell of pine. Our plastic tree just doesn’t smell the same.

I was thinking that the party would mark the end of our first Home Educating ‘term’. Time to relax, stop pushing education at the kids every day, and just coast till Christmas.

Actually, I doubt life will be different as education is just so much part of it now.

*

I so rarely got a moment to myself that when I did I revelled in it. Whilst he girls were out for an afternoon walk with Charles in the remaining frost and I sat down to write about not education but the essence of Christmas.

It curled round the cottage as evocative as the smell of wood smoke and cinnamon. The real fire burned with orange flicks and exuded a comforting warmth far exceeding anything a radiator can do. The tinsel on the Christmas trees, (one big plastic one, two tiny real ones), moved occasionally in the inevitable draughts in this old cottage and sparkled magically. The presents underneath were stacked ready.

The oven thermostat ticked as the stew cooked ready for their return. The cupboard was stocked with homemade cake (grandma’s) and mince pies (me and the children) and multi coloured shortbread with finger prints in (just the children). The cat sprawled in relaxed warmth on the vacant hearth rug usually taken by restless children. The fire murmured gently, all was peace…

“Is it ready yet?” My reverie was interrupted by the door bursting open with a flurry of cold air and giggles and rosy cheeks and sniffing.

“Not yet,” I said closing my notebook.

“Boots off, girls,” said Charles keeping his on.

They put their soaking gloves on the hearth, kicked wellies into the kitchen corner as a gesture of putting away, dropped coats on chairs, outmanoeuvred the cat for the best spot in front of the fire.

Peace shattered, but actually it was their happy childish voices which completed the Christmas atmosphere.

*

On Christmas eve we put on our layers, filled a bag with goodies and went and sang a carol outside mum’s cottage door.

“Oh, it’s you! I thought it was the cats fighting,” she said winking at the girls. She glowed with happiness at seeing us and as brightly as her roaring fire. We jostled for prime position in front of it while mum got her coat on ready to come to ours.

xmas14 010Christmas day was a jumble of torn wrapping, turkey smell and too much chocolate. The pristine piles of presents were rent and became real objects to be ooohed and aaaahed over. The fire burned brighter than the telly and mum’s cheeks even though she was burnished by the sherry. We watched films, figured out how various constructions fitted together and sat on settees nursing groaning tummies. Treasured presents were clasped tired to bed.

Boxing day brought a sprinkle of snow. There’s times when you think it couldn’t be more perfect…

*

Read the book for more of our family’s home education story – there are lots of tips and ideas to help with your home education or family life in general!

Meanwhile wishing you a MERRY, WARM AND LOVE-FILLED CHRISTMAS!

 

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