Holidays Charlotte Mason – Style

Since our lifestyle is a homeschooling lifestyle, then I suppose it’s not surprising that we celebrate our holidays Charlotte Mason – Style. Holidays are a big part of life – some would say the most memorable part. We have been intentionally creating good memories during our holiday celebrations for the last six years especially, since I started listening to Cindy Rushton. Every year, she would help us to start thinking ahead about what we wanted to eat, make, do, study, read, etc. so that we could make sweet memories with our families over the holidays.

I hadn’t really thought about our celebrations and traditions being in line with Charlotte Mason principles, but they really are. I will describe some of our traditions that line up with Charlotte Mason principles in the second part of this post.

But first I would like to do some truth-telling about an issue that was brought into sharp focus by an article I read in Charlotte Mason’s Original Homeschooling Series entitled “A Happy Christmas to You!”. I was amazed at how timely and insightful and relevant this article was for me and my family. I have been grappling with the very issues she brought up in this article. She talks about how the holidays can be ruined by bad attitudes and arguments among family members and general moodiness.

She approaches it from the perspective that the children are home from school, and they’re not busy with the usual activities that school affords them. But we don’t have that additional dynamic since we’re all home together all the time anyway.

But the thing that is so relevant to our family is what she says is the solution to these attitudes and behaviors. She says children need to know that they’re loved – each and every one of them no matter how old they are. She says that they often don’t feel loved as they get older because they recognize how “horrid” they are and feel that nobody can really love them because they’re not lovable.

My older kids have been sharing with me lately how bad they were when they were little. They have been confessing about lies that they told, things that they stole and heart attitudes they had that I had no idea about. As they share these things with me, they say things like, “It’s no wonder you had such a hard time with me. No wonder you thought I was a brat.”

I never thought these things about them! I wasn’t even aware of these sinful acts or attitudes. But they attributed a lack of feeling loved by me to their being sinful and unlovable.

As I look back, I realize that my pulling away from them physically as they grew older (and I constantly had a new baby to take care of) was sending them signals that I certainly never meant to convey to them. I have had times of wondering if each of them was getting all the attention they need from me. I’ve even asked different ones of them if I give them enough attention. They always assure me that they understand that the baby (or babies) need most of my attention and that they are fine.

But I’m realizing now that they need affectionate touch from me throughout the day. Each of them, even the 20-year-old. Even the ones who pull away in surprise when I touch them on the shoulder or back.

I have been taking care of them for all of these years, but for them to know how much I love them, I need to say the words and give them the affectionate touch that lets them know I really feel that way about them.

I have been growing in this area recently, but reading that article brought it all together for me.

So Charlotte Mason has taught me something new again.

Even though she wrote in the late 1800’s, her wisdom is timeless.

I haven’t noticed bad behaviors or attitudes getting worse during holidays probably because of our lifestyle (or maybe because I’m not very observant), but the thing she addressed in her article hit me square between the eyes.

Now for the second part of this post, I will share some things we do during the Holidays that are Charlotte Mason-ish.

441738: Bartholomew"s Passage: A Family Story for Advent Bartholomew’s Passage: A Family Story for Advent

I start gathering living books from the library starting at the beginning of November that are often related to the season, Thanksgiving, Christmas, giving, themes related to giving and The First Christmas, Christmas classics, etc. Sometimes we will listen to audios and watch movies that are about Christmas.

There are many good Christian books about Christmas in Christian bookstores and from online bookstores such as Christianbook.com.

Some of our favorites are:

Jotham’s Journey by Arnold Ytreeide
Bartholomew’s Passage by Arnold Ytreeide
The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell
The Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco

Some of our favorite videos are:

Alabaster’s Song – you can find this and the next title at christianbook.com in A Max Lucado Children’s Treasury DVD box-set
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
It’s a Wonderful Life
White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye

Sometimes the children will make gifts and cards to give. Charlotte encouraged the making of handicrafts.

The practice of giving presents and doing nice things for others – especially as a surprise – builds in children the habit of unselfishness, which Charlotte Mason definitely endorsed.

One of my daughters loves to set the mood for a peaceful, calm, joyful Christmas season by lighting candles, turning down the lights, playing Christmas music (especially the soundtrack “A Charlie Brown Christmas”), turning on the Christmas tree lights and just dreamily sitting there looking at it. She loves to get out the Christmas decorations and decorate the mantle. She loves it when we bake Christmas cookies and other holiday favorites that we only do once a year. Sometimes she has to remind me of what those things are. She is very selfless in all of these tasks. She enjoys them herself, of course, but she’s really doing these things in order to bless the whole family.

We do unit studies about the symbols of Christmas and other Christmas topics many years.

We have a lapbook from Live and Learn Press that we have been working on for about three years now that is all about Thanksgiving. Maybe this will be the year we finish it!

I just went to the Live and Learn Press website and saw that they have many Christmas lapbooks here.

We have studied snow and snowflakes like we did last year with Snowflake Bentley.

248295: Snowflake Bentley Snowflake Bentley
By Jacqueline Martin / Houghton-mifflin

Snow in Vermont is as common as dirt. Why would anyone want to photograph it? Snowflake Bentley is a biographical portrait of a farm boy who loved snowflakes. He loved them so much that as he grew up he learned to photograph them and share them with the world. Ages 4 to 8.

Reading aloud from a collection of Christmas stories is a very enjoyable activity for the whole family. Just thinking about it gives me a warm, toasty feeling inside. Especially when we have the gas fireplace turned on.

So have a Happy Christmas, as Charlotte Mason would say. Make sure you read lots of good books, and I’m sure you will!

Oh, I almost forgot —

This post was written for the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival. Amy at Fisher Academy International is giving away a copy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2012 Page-A-Day Calendar to one lucky person who submits a CM holiday-related post.

I’m thankful for the motivation. This post was a fun one to write!


  1. Penney! You won!! Send me your info!! Thanks for sharing this! I hope it will be the first of many!

    “So Charlotte Mason has taught me something new again.
    Even though she wrote in the late 1800′s, her wisdom is timeless.”
    YES. Uncanny really.

    “the thing she addressed in her article hit me square between the eyes.”

    Me too… seriously. I hope you read Laura’s post at Wasted Textbooks, it’s on a similar thread. Why is it so unnatural to hug our children once they reach a certain age?! I’m going to rebel against the awkwardness! I’ve already made an effort today!

    thanks for your post. 🙂

    amy in peru

  2. Very interesting that several posts in this blog carnival have been about showing our children affection, approval, love. It’s so timely for me. Thank you for reminding us.

  3. just wondering if you do anything different during Christmas for history – charlotte mason style? Or if you have any ideas/recommendations?

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