Now Is the Time to Buy Winter Clothes

Children's Winter Clothes on Sale

Children often grow out of their clothes before they wear them out. After Christmas and into the New Year is a great time to look for winter clothes. A lot of children will have new clothes for the holidays, so families will probably be looking to get rid of old clothes. Combined with the New Year’s / Hogmanay urge to clean up and ship out old stuff, you have the ideal time to get winter clothes for your kids.

Make a list. Start with an honest assessment of what you need in what sizes so you don’t end up impulse buying more than you need.

Look for sales. Comb sale advertisements in the papers before you head off to the stores. Save yourself the grief of having to physically push clothes around on the racks. De-stress. Only go to the sales that are most likely to have what you need.

Trade with friends. If you have a large enough circle of friends and acquaintances, clothes can be passed from family to family until they wear out. You might not be trading clothes for clothes with the same family, but you can often work out a fair system for trading in a circle.

Consign and shop consignment post-holidays. Gather up the clothes that don’t fit your children and take them to a consignment shop IF the shop gives you decent terms. Don’t give away the clothes for nothing. Near me, I have only found shops that give terrible terms, so I don’t do this.

Buy a size up. As you are part-way into the season, you will save money by buying the size you will need next year. My children know I am going to buy coats with arms too long, and they are just resigned to it.

Stock up while the stocking is good. For cloth diapers, baby carriers, and toys, be sure to check our Year-end Sale at bynature.ca.

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Nurture Your Marriage

Young married couple sitting together on couch

Happy Anniversary to me! A short lifetime ago, I was married in the village where I am now spending the holidays with my in-laws. My husband and I have blocked out the day to spend together, turning down all other offers of activities. Our children are spending the day with cousins, and we are off without telling anyone where we are going.

Whether it is an anniversary or just an opportunity when surrounded by family, take advantage of the time you have family members around to watch your children and go spend time alone with your spouse. Especially when you have young children, parenting can be an all-consuming occupation, but you need time to nurture your marriage. I remember well how it felt to be forced to go out with my husband whenever my mother was in town, when what I really wanted to do was to stay with my babies. I missed my babies. I knew when they were hungry because I ached to feed them.

Still, I’m glad I went. As my children grow older and need less time, my husband and I aren’t strangers whose world revolves around children. We’re a couple whose children are only part of the bond.


Quick Tips for Your Time Together

  • GO! Whether you want to or not, go spend time alone with your spouse.
  • Choose an activity that gives you time to talk. Even if you go to a movie, go to dinner or take a walk as well.
  • Consider setting a limit on how much you can talk about children. Let your evening be about the two of you.
  • If you have time to think about it beforehand, give each other little gifts. If you just can’t get past the chaos to think that clearly, don’t worry about it.

Every day, take small steps to nurture your marriage. This holiday, take up kind grandparents, friends, and extended family members on their offers to watch your children. Get to know your husband or wife again every chance you get.

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Claim Your Local Holiday Traditions

Old Glory Molly Dancers

Holiday time is a time to consider community traditions as well as family traditions. My family is staying with in-laws in rural Suffolk, England, so we’ve been going to all of the local celebrations. Thursday, we went to a performance of local Molly Dancers.

This is a reclaimed local tradition that takes place between harvest and the blessing of the ploughs in early January. The disguised ploughmen dance while a group of ivy-covered women providing the music. “No matter what you believe and who you believe in,” said the umbrella-man, the announcer, “this is about Nature.”

Look into local traditions either where you live or where you travel, and participate with your children to give them a broad view of their cultural environmental.

Whatever holiday you are celebrating this season, I wish you and your family best wishes.

Wassail!

Old man with wassail bowl

The holiday tradition of spiced cider or mulled wine stretches from Halloween to Twelfth Night through all of the holidays in between. Wassail is most usually associated with Christmas now, but it wasn’t always so.

Wassail is both the drink and the act of going house to house asking for the drink. “Waes Hail!” is a toast. It means “Good Health!” When roving bands of young men showed up at the doors of the wealthy in a town, holding out their wassail bowls asking for free food and drink, wassailing more closely resembled trick or treating. For those who go Christmas caroling, the offer of a hot drink is from the same tradition. For my family, we keep a pot of mulled cider on the stove through the harvest and winter holidays.

If you are establishing your own family traditions, keep in mind that scents can be very evocative. Apple and cinnamon wafting through the house is one of those signals for my children that it is holiday time. Perhaps you might want to add wassail to your celebrations.

Start with a large stock pan.

Base drink. You can make a kid-friendly version with apple cider or even apple juice with added orange juice. We add a gallon of apple and half a gallon of orange to start.

Alcohol. If you aren’t feeding kids or you are making an adult version, you can start with red wine or hard cider. You can also add brandy, port, or sherry. Anything sweet will mix well.

Spices. Add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, or any of the sweet spices you like. You can make it all powdered or add whole spices for a beautiful look.

Sugar. I don’t add sugar, but most recipes call for it. Apple juice adds a lot of sweetness that gets thicker as the night goes on, so skip it.

Fruit. We add orange wedges with cloves stuck into the rind, and I’ve also seen apple slices added.

Warm without boiling. You want to let the spices steep for at least 30 minutes, but an hour or two will give you a thicker, spicier version. If you are serving at a party, continue to top it up with more apple and orange through the evening. Topping up is likely why the alcoholic version becomes more potent as the evening wears on.

Waes Hail!

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Seasonal Table for Young Children

Young child at nature table

A seasonal table or nature table serves as an indoor reminder of the changes of the seasons.

Many families and Waldorf schools add to the table as they find natural treasures like rocks, shells, twigs, small squashes at harvest time, new leaves in spring, and anything else that strikes the fancy of adults or children as they explore nature. The table often includes a setting created with play cloths, wool roving, figures from the toy box or the birthday ring, or even crafts. Whatever reminds us of the turning of the seasons is appropriate on a seasonal table.

Though we do have some figures and special items we add to my family’s nature table, we don’t create scenes so much as we display our found treasures of the season. The right way to create a seasonal table is whatever way you decide. Grow and adapt the tradition with your own family’s preferences.

If you would like to create a seasonal nature table with your family, start by choosing an area you can dedicate to the table. Make it high enough that dogs, cats, and curious toddlers can’t tear it apart, but make it visible even to the youngest members of the family.

Start with a walk in nature. Pick up what interests you and talk about it. For a very young child, try to follow their lead. My son filled his pockets on walks with golf balls and rubber bands, while my daughter was always finding stones. Try stick with natural objects, but don’t reject their personal choices. For older children, ask them specifically to look for natural objects that represent the season. Before you bring your objects indoors, brush off any dirt.

Prepare the table with a silk play cloth, piece of fabric, or other natural ground, then arrange your treasurers and talk about the seasons. Talk about how this season feels, but remind the child that the seasons will keep changing. It is cold now, and the pine cones have fallen off the trees, but in the spring new pine cones will grow on the trees. Those might be put on your spring table.

Avoid that nature deficit that seems so common in industrial childhood, and encourage your child to build an awareness of how nature works and how we as humans relate to nature and the seasons. A season table is a gentle way to help young children become aware of the way nature works.

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