The weather here in Santa Cruz is cooperating amazingly well with my lesson plans. We have moved from very cold days to dark wet days. How easy it has been to work with Rowan on the themes of Winter, Advent and Hanukkah.
I was not certain at first how to include the story of Hanukkah into our lessons. It is not an Old Testament Story and it is not something our family usually celebrates. I always have a hard time teaching things that I am not connected with and I worried that this was going to happen with Hanukkah. Books to the rescue! I found a lovely book by Erica Jayasuriya called Traditions. In the book I found wonderful prayers and verses and many stories to choose from to make Hanukkah come alive for us in our school day. I decided to tell the story of Deborah, Woman of Flames. I kept the story simple and was able to weave the bigger story of Hanukkah into the smaller story of Deborah who is seeking her true calling in service to God and finds it as a weaver of candle wicks.
We moved from the story into painting on Monday, filling our page with deep dark blue and then pulling the light of a menorah from the darkness using the lifting off technique. This was challenging for Rowan and he kept saying that it was hard, but he persisted and the painting worked well. I was most pleased with the mood that we were able to create, it really felt like we were honoring the human need to bring light into this time of year.
Our house can sometimes feel mired in darkness with the heavy adolescent influence it holds. Although I think my own two teenagers are questioning the world in a totally healthy and normal way, I worry that Rowan will have too much cynicism too soon. In taking the time to light our advent candles, sit together for our family meals and honor our own family traditions like gingerbread house making and finding the perfect Christmas tree, I hope to help all my children, especially the teenagers, hold onto the beauty and light that is inside of them.