Monday, January 12, 2015

Winter Celebrations

Winter break has been restful. No airplanes, no formal plans. A little skiing, a few parties, some nights with extended family, some afternoons with new neighbor friends. We have exchanged gifts with loved ones and generally had a good time just being. Daddy and I redid your bathroom. I watched 2 full seasons of House of Cards in the evenings with a glass of wine.

The weather has been eh. Some days beautiful, mostly just grey and wet. We have watched movies and played alot with new toys. We have walked around town everyday, to the library, to the coffee shop, to the tea bar, just to walk and get outside. But that isn't something out of the ordinary for us. in fact, the first question you both ask when we get to our back gate to go somewhere is "Are we driving or walking?"

As the new year begins, Lucy will take a test for pre-K and you will start the final two-thirds of your Kindergarten year. You will be 6 in 3 months. How can that be?

I have been in awe of you and your understanding of concepts. I pointed out a make-shift menorah out of tea lights at Birdies, our coffee shop. In a quest to provide educational opportunities and questions during break, I asked you how many candles were on the mantel.  "Nine." you said without hesitation. "Well actually 8 candles and the shamash."
The what? I asked, baffled at your words.
"The shamash." you said, "It's the middle candle where all the other candles are lit from during the 8 nights of Hanukkah."
I immediately took out my phone and Googled: "middle candle in the menorah" and you were right, it is called a shamash. Who knew?

I can't take credit for your knowledge. Kindergarten curriculum has certainly changed since I was in school. Well I went to a Catholic school and I didn't take a world religions class until junior year of high school. This past December, you have studied Winter Celebrations around the world and how those celebrations use light in their festivals. During this unit you learned about:
  • How Christmas trees symbolize Christmas. 
  • St. Lucia Day (yeah Scandinavia!) 
  • Kwanzaa as a celebration of family, community and culture
  • Hanukkah & use of menorah 
  • The use of Fanoos (lanterns) in Ramadan
  • Diwali (Hindu Festival of Lights) 
  • Las Posadas where you got to make your own costumes and carry lights around campus asking for "any room at the inn?" while using your Spanish vocabulary. It was adorable. 
I didn't even know some of these celebrations / religions existed until high school. You are only 5 years old teaching me about the universal use of light in winter to celebrate life, hope, prosperity and faith. All of these winter light celebrations were not taught in isolation, you learned about Kwanzaa and Hanukkah in Math and Music and Fanoos and Diwali in Art too. So even now, a month later, you have retained most of what you learned and discovered. To say that I was impressed with this unit would be understatement. I cannot believe the exposure and understanding you have gained. It seems so natural to you, this appreciation for other cultures and openness to the world. You know that other religions exist, heck, in your kindergarten, (21 in the grade, 11 in your class) you have Christians, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim students. In your little mirco-community, you have represented the 5 major world religions. What a blessing to know and grow with these friends and their families.

After I became a mom, I felt like my life broadened and at the same time, shrunk. I wrote in the last post that we live day to day. Surviving the week. Which is true but this winter break, we have had more time to ponder and chat. Now, with school and your maturing (almost 6, remember?), we have meaningful conversations. We discuss. We learn from each other. You ask me questions. I ask you questions. I see light in the darkness of parenting young children. I know one day we will have more meaningful conversations. You will be able to critical think and discuss topics on a much deeper level. But for now, the flicker of light, the moments of awe of your understanding of the world, makes me quite excited for the future. You already have a better understanding of the menorah than me. 

Snap circuit fun!
You suddenly seemed so old the other morning sitting in my classroom doing your homework. I sneaked a picture.

First time at our library sitting and reading a book all by yourself. 

Unexpected snow day the second day back from break. 

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