A Message for the Season

Some years back we received the following email story from Ed Carilli – one of the original members of our Love of Learning Montessori family. It seems particularly appropriate this year when, in the news, our “togetherness” is being challenged:

“Under a cultural exchange program, my family was host to a rabbi from Russia at Christmas time. We decided to introduce him to a culinary treat that was probably not available in his country: we took him to our favorite Chinese restaurant.

Throughout the meal, the rabbi spoke excitedly about the wonders of our country in comparison to the bleak conditions in his homeland. When we finished eating, the waiter brought the check and presented each of us with a small brass Christmas tree ornament as a seasonal gift.

We all laughed when my father pointed out that the ornaments were stamped “Made in India.” But the laughter subsided when we saw that the rabbi was quietly crying. Concerned, my father asked him if he was offended because he’d been given a gift for a Christian Holiday.

He smiled, shook his head and said, “Nyet. I was shedding tears of joy to be in a wonderful country in which a Buddhist gives a Jew a Christmas gift made by a Hindu!” (from Readers Digest) Working with children in Europe during the terrible times of the first half of the 20th Century, Maria Montessori got a vision of peace for the world. The life force that brings us all together is always active. Loving answers are available to every situation we find ourselves in. She had been given a seemingly impossible task – educating and civilizing a group of children who were destroying their apartment complex while their parents were at work in the San Lorenzo District of Rome, Italy. By observing the children and giving them activities that addressed their needs they were transformed and became the foundation of her educational method, which she characterized as …”an aid to life.”

Opportunities to divide, separate, be angry with one another, present themselves at every turn in the road, especially when it comes to dealing with children. As the stories from the various religious traditions of this season illustrate, there is always a way out, there is always a loving solution that brings us together, life goes on and prospers.

There’s a wonderful saying: “The things that make us truly happy aren’t things.” Don’t let the joy of the season be taken from you by too much focus on “stuff”. We wish you all a happy, healthy holiday with lots of invaluable family times – the memory of which lasts long after the things wrapped up in paper are forgotten!