This Christmas is the leanest one experienced by many families in America today, and homeschooling families with lots of children are usually the first to feel the squeeze when the economy dives and taxes go up.
It makes families considering homeschooling reconsider whether they should, and makes those currently homeschooling question whether they can survive trying times with only one parent in the workforce.
These dark times make parents hope their children will appreciate the sacrifice of home education, instead of becoming bitter about what they do not have. Our family is right there with you. We went out on a limb to have many children, hope to adopt more in the future, yet stretch things far to live on one income.
We are learning as a family that trusting God and the good attitude that comes from that trust, not wealth or material goods, is what counts in being content. Pointing children to Scripture and joyfully living it is what can help you merrily approach this Christmas and the hard times that may soon come. I want you to consider homeschooling as a wonderful gift that a loving, stable, Christian parent can give a child.
As moms at home, we have a unique opportunity to focus our children on the birth of Christ at Christmas, rather than on what has amounted to an American tradition of going broke to achieve the piles of gifts under the tree image.
When did all this emphasis on gift buying start anyway They say it was the Industrial Revolution and the prosperity of America that shifted Christmas from a religious celebration of Christs birth where small homemade treats were given, to the secular merchandizing madness that it is today.
But, rather than just bemoaning what others have turned Christmas (or ?the holidays? as they now say) into, we at home can create a biblical Christmas which will positively impact our children, grandchildren and beyond.
If you homeschool, you have a really good chance at achieving a biblical Christmas, and tight financial times can actually help take your family?s emphasis off the material. Curbing the influences of the media and public schooling are important in this as well.
We do not have a television hooked up in our home, so our children do not know who the latest youth idols are nor have they been persuaded by flashy advertisements that they must acquire certain items to be fulfilled.
We do love to watch Christmas classics that help point to the theme we are discussing my favorites being Its a Wonderful Life and the version of The Christmas Carol called Scrooge (1970, starring Albert Finney which contains memorable songs like ?Thank You Very Much?).
And, what child doesnt love A Charlie Brown Christmas? Musing over 2008, I can say my family can really connect with George Bailey in many ways. When we watched Scrooge the other day, I pointed out how happy Tiny Tim was compared with Scrooge, and we can appreciate the evangelism displayed by Linus in the Charlie Brown movie.
We do not engage in the Santa Claus myth, so that makes Advent and the nativity all the more centered in our children?s celebration of Christmas.
We love to visit live nativity scenes and sing the meaningful carols. Since they are not among peers in a school, our children are not exposed to ritual of making a list for Santa and the bragging and comparing that goes on the days after Christmas, so we as parents do not feel the pressure to buy in excess to keep up with the Joneses.
But, the older ones have read in stories or heard other children they meet elsewhere discuss Christmas as piles of toys, and they have asked me about it. This brings me to the question:
Can you be festive this time of year when you can only afford a small gift for each child, or maybe even none at all Sure, if they see an eternal reason for being joyful, and if they can understand that homeschooling is a hefty gift you have given them.
I show my children that their making Christmas cards for the lonely and singing at nursing homes is better than striving for gifts, as Paul says in Acts 20:35, ?And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. And, because we love each other deeply and we sincerely try to follow the Lord Jesus, we can understand Proverbs 15: 16,17 : Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble, Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.
And, of course, there is Philippians 4:12:? I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
One of my favorite Scriptures, which I display in the kitchen, where I often refer the children to it so that we know how to handle any circumstance or trial, Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
As homeschoolers, we love to read old pioneer stories and when they discuss Christmas, I like to point out how the children are described as being so thankful for receiving an orange or one piece of candy for Christmas.
We support a child in Africa, and last Christmas he wrote about how happy he was to receive an extra bowl of rice for Christmas.
That really put things in perspective for our children. Indeed, it is not the children who have a lot who appreciate a lot, but it is those who are used to lean times who are joyful when they receive.
Parents who give their children piles of material goods which the children have not earned are, from looking at current American culture, raising gluttonous, ungrateful brats who will be tempted to use credit cards when their jobs do not afford them the luxuries they were indulged with as children.
Our children have a great-grandmother in her nineties who lived through the Great Depression. You can always tell when you meet someone who was from the Depression generation versus those from the times of prosperity and easy credit.
Looking at her furniture and other goods in her home, you can tell they are from when she was much younger and yet they are still in great shape. People like her learned to be frugal, to see debt as evil, and to make what they had last.
What I want you to see is that staying home to homeschool, even though it is the more difficult path in light of the economy, will bless your child in the long run.
And, I want you to convey that to your children ?that in order to stay home and not run up debt, you may not be able to have the same Christmas gifts that the child next door, sent to the ?free? public school, whose family has two incomes, can afford.
Instead, we should feel blessed, considering homeschooling as a great gift that God has enabled us to have in this country, albeit a gift that requires sacrifice in the short run.
And being home with your children, loving them and showing them God?s love, can help your children grasp the greatest gift ever. We tell our children that the best Christmas present is that God gave us His son, Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross to save us wretched sinners. And, that, my friends, is the only gift that you can take to heaven with you.