We’ve all grown up with the song “Jingle Bells” stuck in our heads at one time or another throughout the many Christmas seasons. It’s a classic, lovable Christmas tune for the littles and my children are no exception. It is probably the most heard Christmas song sung around our house other than “Away in a Manger”. Why do kids love it? Most likely the catchy tune and, if they can get their hands on a pair, the jingling bells.
But last night as we sat down to read a Christmas story before participating in the Advent Calendar a deeper connection to the song was made. As it was drawing close to bedtime and the kids were clamoring for a story, my hand went to draw the shortest one I could find out of the Christmas book basket. I’d like to say I planned this beautiful moment but, as most know, when I “plan” a beautiful moment it usually turns into a chaotic mess. So what I was really thinking is the kids needed to wind down and get to bed quickly because I still had a lots to do for a Christmas party happening the next day.
My hand grabbed the Robert Frost poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” with illustrations by Susan Jeffers This is a book we own and have loved reading every year. The pictures are exquisite – lots for little eyes to pour over at their leisure. As we slowly, and I do mean slowly for this is a poem that just cannot be read too fast or the fun will be over with too soon, read through the poem and our eyes drank in the feast of delights, a connection was made for me. The song “Jingle Bells” popped into my head as I was staring at this sleigh…a one horse open sleigh…with this one horse wearing a harness of bells that jingled. So I pointed this serendipitous moment out to my children. The “awwhhhs” escaped in precious surprised sighs as they too made the connection. I drew my fingers slowly over the pictures while softly singing, stopping my finger to emphasize a picture word, trailing my finger over the field of snow. We talked of why someone might be driving a sleigh – how it differed from wagons. We talked of promises he had to keep in the poem and what that might mean, letting our imaginations run away with us.
These are the precious few moments I love on our homeschooling journey. The planning is good. It needs to be there to guide and direct our small family tree, shaping and pruning as we go. The planning ensures that great books like this are stocked in our Christmas book basket to begin with. But not every story is received warmly. Not every story captures the imagination enough to still little one’s wandering hands and incessant, interrupting questions. Not every story leads to unexpected rabbit trails. But when they do…oh how delightful!
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Have a quiet evening everyone!