Monday, December 13, 2010

The True Meaning of Christmas

Valerie Steimle

The Christmas lights are glowing everywhere and people are still driving with trees on tops of cars. The thoughts of those pecan pies from Thanksgiving are still in our heads but we press forward as we are in full swing in the Christmas season.

Black Friday has past with little or no fan fair but as you remember a couple of years ago the news reported that a 34-year old man was trampled to death by Wal-mart shoppers trying to get into the store. I have heard only good reports of kindness to others on that day. Maybe we have improved our behavior. Maybe we can remember the true meaning of this time of the year.

This year for Christmas many people have lost their jobs. This year there may not be the material Christmas many have experienced in the past. This year those who have been more fortunate to have employment will hopefully remember those who have not been so lucky. Giving to others who don’t have much always leaves us with a great feeling in our own lives.

As Christmas has at times lost its meaning in years before maybe as a people we can realize that the number and cost of gifts isn’t as important as being with their family. Maybe we can remember that a few gifts to our friends and family are the tokens of what is really the true meaning of Christmas.

There are so many wonderful events that are fun and do not cost much to help us remember the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas concerts and parties, festivals in the park, parades, night excursions to Christmas lights and baking Christmas cookies at home are just some of the memories we can create for our children.

Agnes Pharo says it well: What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.

We are alive on this earth and can do good for others. If we all had a glimpse of what George Bailey saw in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”, we would appreciate what we have so much more.

This is the season of love and giving to others. We should all learn what it truly means in giving of ourselves to others. Not just in buying material possessions but in spending time and using our talents to share with our friends and family. That is the true meaning of the Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Homeschooling Children has Positive Advantages

Valerie Steimle

There is a certain group of people who live in our country, who have gone unnoticed for what they have done in their home. Mothers are the unsung heroes of a great country, this is true but there is another group that I would like to highlight in my writing today. Those are the mothers who homeschool their children. For a while, this topic was controversial and misunderstood at best but now homeschooling is so common, most people know at least one family in their circle of friends and family who do. Educating your own children definitely has its advantages. Here are a few:

1. Parents have the control of what their children learn. They don’t have to depend upon the public or private school arena to educate their children. They can add extra learning in certain areas that are important to the parents without worrying about government intervention.

2. Homeschooled children can speed up or slow down their progress depending upon ability. A child who has challenges in certain areas can practice as much as time allows in accomplishing a new skill. Time is so flexible in finishing a year’s work, you can do it anywhere.

3. Homeschooled children do not have the peer pressure of other students calling them names or belittling them. There is a worry free environment at home that is relaxing and much can be learned there.

4. There are more field trips open to children at home during the day. Parents can take their children in smaller groups and stay longer than other field trips sponsored by public schools because there is more time and parents are right there observing.

5. If you are worried about college, this is another advantage. Colleges and Universities love homeschooled students. They do well in their studies and get along with others. They are generally self-motivated and involve themselves in their community. There isn’t a lot of burn out from the time they finish their high school grades until they start college courses as well and most homeschooled students make learning a life long endeavor.

The only disadvantage to homeschooling a child is the parents’ own time. The time spent in schooling children takes away from the parents’ time to do other things but the sacrifice is well worth the effort.

I have homeschooled all nine of my children at different times of their life. Some stayed at home until after high school and some finished at a local high school. But, the blessings of having your child at home is that you can instill your values long enough that once your child leaves home to be on his/her own, you know you have done all you could to teach him/her to be a contributing member of society…..and in this troubled world that is a great advantage.