Feature Article Christmas Traditions by Marlin Detweiler

Educational Helps by Laurie Detweiler

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December 2007




Classical Christian education produces some very humorous anecdotes. Lora Thompson who, with her husband and children sit behind us in church, told us of an observation of one of their children. The seven-year-old boy who is well-entrenched in the Veritas Press History cards saw some Christmas decorations and exclaimed, "Look at that bearded man driving a chariot!" The beginnings of a massive cultural change?


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Feature Article


Christmas Traditions 


There is probably no time more likely to breed family traditions than the end-of-year holidays. Christmas, Thanksgiving, and even New Year’s Day are commonly filled with routines that carry on from year to year.


I don’t want to strike a nerve here, but one of the adjustments for young married folks is the merging of two, sometimes very different, sets of traditions. Imagine someone from a family who has their Christmas Dinner on Christmas Eve, after which they open their presents before going to bed marrying someone whose family gets up very early Christmas morning, opens their gifts and then enjoys a big breakfast together. Such was the case with Laurie and me.


Traditions can be funny things. We grow quite fond of them for little reason other than that they are, well, traditions. A tradition we have developed together as a family is to have enough turkey at Thanksgiving to have leftovers. You see, leftover turkey, leftover dressing, stuffing or whatever you call it, leftover cranberry sauce, wheat bread and mayonnaise makes the best sandwich you ever tasted. In fact, our children have commented that we don’t need to even have turkey for Thanksgiving dinner as long as we can still figure out a way to have leftover turkey for the sandwiches.


Other traditions I grew up with include extended family dinners. My father was one of four brothers. We traditionally went to the home of one of his brothers for Thanksgiving and another for New Year’s Day. Ditching the toboggan before getting to the road at the bottom of the hill, playing with Frieda, the German Shepherd, and being banned to the kids table while the adults enjoyed the beauty of the 200-year-old dining room that couldn’t handle all of us are just some of the memories that remain from my childhood with aunts, uncles and cousins.


We need to build traditions. Our children are growing up, and they need traditions to come home to. It can create a common bond shared only by the family that practices it.


It has become easy and commonplace to criticize our fast food culture. Yet the truth remains; our culture eats on the run, spends little time sharing meals around the dinner table together and generally functions very differently than what we might think best if we were to gain control of our lives and plan things a little more.


So, as you approach the Advent Season be encouraged to think and plan carefully what you will do with your little ones, teenagers, college students or young marrieds as you gather together around the table and for extended family time. Take some time to plan and think about what you want your children to remember and appreciate.


The resurgence of classical Christian education is taking hold wonderfully in many corners. It is producing children who know and understand the past, have a mastery of language and are as comfortable talking to a wino on the street or a corporate executive. Thankfully, it is doing more than providing children a great education. Many families have realized through their educational efforts and commitment to family that building healthy family relationships is also a part of the wise and godly upbringing we so long to give our children. My point is to emphasize that family traditions, holiday traditions in particular, are a good and important part of this thorough educational process. After all, who doesn’t want to establish a place where kids want to come home?


I would be remiss if I were to not mention that traditions can also be dangerous things. Our neighbors, the Amish, remind us of this problem. Their lives are filled with traditions. How they dress, the rejection of cars for horses and buggies, and even their outlook on life frequently has more to do with mindless traditions than it does explainable meaning. Ask one of them why they don’t have electricity, drive cars or wear what they do and you might be surprised to find that they don’t know why. Doing something for tradition’s sake without meaning is, well, meaningless.


Most of the traditions I mentioned earlier have to do with these less important style type traditions. Turkey sandwiches, timing of Christmas dinner, etc. Another, more meaningful tradition of ours is to seek out a Christmas Eve service at a local church. Our home church currently has no Christmas Eve service, which has made it very practical to visit and worship with believers from other denominations. In the last five years we’ve attended Episcopal, Lutheran, and Presbyterian churches as a family on Christmas Eve. What a great way to expose our children to other Christians and other means of worshipping the same Triune God, and what a great time to do it.


There’s another extremely important tradition that seems to be developing in our family at holiday time. It’s the traditional Monopoly game. The problem is we’re developing a traditional winner. I can’t understand how Parker, our youngest, always is lucky enough to win.


So, develop your own traditions. Enjoy your family and friends. And realize that such traditions, smothered in gratitude to God for the very opportunity to develop them, are a substantial reason why we do all this work to educate our children in the first place.


Marlin Detweiler


Educational Helps


December is a joyous month, and yet invariably it is one that is very busy. Frequently it seems that this is the month where those wonderful school projects take a back seat and never get completed due to the busyness of the season. I understand this and have definitely been there. You may know that we only have one child at home. In the past we have homeschooled and had children in a classical Christian school. At this season in our life we find ourselves homeschooling again. Last week as I was getting ready for Thanksgiving, trying to do all the cooking, while in the midst of Omnibus lessons, I was once again reminded that this season of having children living at home is almost over.


I burned a pie yesterday and had to start over because I forgot about it in the midst of lessons and other distractions. Oh well! So why am I telling you all of this? Simply because pies burn but children last forever.


We have created a Christmas lap book for you to make. As I was working with our graphic designer, I wished our youngest son was young enough to want to do this. He’s not. But it got me thinking back to all the fun projects we did with our children. At Thanksgiving we were all together and spent time reminiscing about them. Maybe you want to forget some of your other projects, but this might be a fun one to do to focus in on the glorious birth and incarnation of our Lord and Savior as we celebrate it.


Click here to access our download page. Then click on the Christmas Lap Book link under Free Helps.


Laurie Detweiler


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Free Mid-Year Consulting
We are fast approaching the half-way point of the 2007-8 school year. Many find this a good time to reevaluate and make changes or modifications. We have a limited number of consultation appointments available with
Laurie Detweiler during the month of December and early January. To schedule one call us at 800-922-5082 or email us at


Free Shipping, Free Drop-Shipping and Free Gift Wrap

Merry Christmas. Books make great Christmas gifts. You may have any order in December shipped free (Continental US only). You may also have any order gift-wrapped. And you may have any order sent to an address of your choosing. All you need do is ask. When placing an order online, make your request for free shipping and/or gift-wrapping in the Comments box during checkout. Our web site makes it easy to place a gift order. . . . But we love hearing from you, too, so call us at 800-922-5082.




Q. I really want to teach my child Latin. I was able to get through the third and fourth grade books, but am very concerned about teaching Wheelock’s. What suggestions do you have?

A. Welcome to the crowd. There are not too many of us who feel qualified to teach Wheelock’s. Up until now I have not have a very good answer for you, but our Scholars lesson plans have changed that. Molly Carey, a very gifted Latin teacher, has scripted the entire thing for you. If you can read, you can teach. For more details about our Veritas Scholars Lesson Plans, click the link on our web site.


Q. How in the world do you get through all those activities and comprehension questions in the comprehension guides for literature books?

A. We don’t. It was never intended to complete every single page in a guide. We give you activities and questions for every chapter so you can choose what interests you and your child the most. On average, we recommend trying to complete two sets of comprehension questions every week and a project every other week. If your child learns better by hands-on projects, consider doing more projects and only one set of comprehension questions a week. And remember, they can answer them orally, but it is a good idea to write out at least one set a week.


Please submit any questions you’d like answered here to




Veritas Press Teacher Training and In-A-Week Classes

For several years we have sponsored an annual teacher training and “In-A-Week” classes here in Lancaster. At the same time we have seen tremendous development in technologies on the internet.  Our online classes have functioned extremely effectively using these technological tools. It begs some questions. If teacher training or In-A-Week classes interest you, please take a moment to fill out the brief survey that we sent you a couple days ago or, if you missed it, click here to see it again. This will help us know how we can best serve you (and it will only take two to three minutes).


Taking on More Speaking Engagements

With three of our four children in college and the last one being homeschooled, we find it easier to travel during the school year than in recent years. Consequently, we are taking on more speaking and consulting engagements. If we can be of service to you or your organization, feel free to give us a call.


Christmas Additions to the Veritas Press Offerings

We mentioned a few special Christmas additions in the opening. An incredible book on the Tower of Babel and CDs to learn math facts to classical music. Click here to learn more.

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