One of the things that is so interesting to me about celebrating the yearly festivals with very little children is bringing the powerful and sometimes very adult stories into our home in a way that is both accessible to little children and also sensitive to their developmental needs. I find it much easier with Christmas because the Christmas story is a picture of family which is what the little child knows. And of course, here in our family this past Christmas, we were still adjusting the the birth of our own baby. Babies are wholesome and easy to love. For Advent we set up a little basket bed and had pieces of straw to place in the bed whenever we had been particularly good; when we had been patient (with our children [me], or our new sister [B]), when we had been thoughtful, or generous, or kind. We talked about making a soft bed in our hearts for when baby Jesus came on His birthday. And sure enough Christmas arrived with the Christ child laying in His manger.
The story of the Crucifixion is another matter altogether. I was very fortunate to work with a wonderful (some would even say master, although he always begged us not to) Waldorf kindergarten teacher my first year teaching. He told me at one point that if you do nothing else for a curriculum for the littlest children, you can always have Angels for the Autumn, Stars for the Winter, and Butterflies for the Spring. Each of these, angels, stars, and butterflies, is in some way representative of the spiritual mood of the season. As I have time, I hope to have more to say about this idea. I have clung to this idea in trying to bring the liturgical year into our domestic church. And, so, butterflies.