This time of year a particular frenzy starts to develop inside and outside our homes. Sadly, many people are robbed from the joy and peace this holiday represents. This year my family is simplifying. With Christmas just around the corner I thought about how I could connect our learning to the simplicity of the Christmas Season I so eagerly desired. Since our social studies found us peering into the late 19th century, I found myself wondering what Christmas must have looked like to the pioneers? I am somehow convinced that they weren’t concerned with how tastefully their homes were decorated or whether or not they had the latest and the greatest of the world’s possessions.
This led me to put together a unit study on the pioneers with an emphasis on what Christmas must have been like in the late 1800’s. I found myself led to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum and stumbled upon a Laura Ingalls Wilder Unit study. As we explore this study together we find ourselves simplifying our thoughts and attitudes. I found myself wanting to put away the department store tree I always put up and add fresh evergreen boughs decorated with hand strung popcorn and cranberries.
Over the next few weeks I will periodically share with you some of the activities and projects we will do together in our Pioneer Christmas unit study. For now, I will leave you with this quote from A little House Sampler by Laura Ingalls Wilder and edited by William T Anderson.
….I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet simple things in life which are the real ones after all. We heap up all around us things that we do not need as the crow makes piles of glittering pebbles. We gabble words like parrots until we lose the sense of their meaning; we chase after this new idea and that; we take an old thought and dress it out in so many words that the thought itself is lost in its clothing like a slim woman in a barrel skirt and the we exclaim, “Lo, the wonderful new thought I have found!”
“There is nothing new under the sun,” says the proverb. I think the meaning is that there are just so many truths or laws of life and no matter how far we may think we have advanced we cannot get beyond those laws. However complex a structure we build of living we must come back to those truths and so we find we have traveled in a circle.
-Laura Ingalls Wilder