2015 Michaelmas


It’s almost too late to write about Michaelmas, since it was a month ago. Honestly, I’m being pulled in so many directions these days, sometimes it’s all I can do to keep my feet underneath me and pointed forward.

This Michaelmas season brought with it many challenges and opportunities to exercise our courage and grow into our new selves. We got to go deep; we got to fall apart and pick ourselves up again. We got to learn more about our own fears, strengths, compassion, intuition, and capacity for love and forgiveness. We got to shed our old dragon skins and reemerge, shining and tender, into life. And the world keeps on turning …

IMG_8014 These photos are from our sons’ school Michaelmas festival, which I delight in writing about year after year.IMG_8004

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This year, Asher’s class played the role of the happy villagers of the land, who joyfully dance until the terrifying dragon arrives, disrupting their festivities and scattering them in fear.


The dragon was fearsome and surprisingly quirky—this year’s dragon had a baby dragon with it! IMG_8118

As you maybe can see, it was a mighty hot day. My little Asher and his third-grade classmates danced beautifully, and their lovely and talented class teacher danced with them.

IMG_8034IMG_8093 With courage, pure hearts, strength in community, and Michael’s aid, the dragon was subdued. And the people rejoiced. IMG_8099 Lucas’s teacher was the town crier. She gave a dramatic performance and brought her considerable gravitas to the role. IMG_8110 IMG_8107 IMG_8124 The sixth graders create and man the dragon each year. It is a massive undertaking. The whole school turns out for this festival. It’s unifying and inspiring every time.IMG_8129 IMG_8143


The eighth grade class is pretty busy this year with their schoolwork. They had a minor roll in the festival, which was just fine with them.

And with this we ushered in autumn, with all its beauty and contradiction. We faced our fears with renewed vigor and confidence, and we are stronger for it.



Today is Martinmas, the feast day of Saint Martin, who lived in the fourth century. Although I was raised a Catholic, I didn’t really learn about Martin until my older son was in second grade at his Waldorf school. Now, my younger son is a second grader, and tonight we get to go to school to have a lantern walk and meet the saint.


I feel like I have written about this event from 2008 before, but if I did I can’t find it. When Lucas was in second grade, we walked with our lanterns through the dark school grounds and through the woods at night and came upon a silent reenactment of the story of Martin and the beggar. A man sat on a horse and a beggar man was crouched nearby, in the shadows. At first we didn’t even see him. The children sang lantern songs and watched with wonder as the splendidly dressed Martin give half of his soldier’s cloak to the beggar, who warmed himself with the garment. It was a beautiful, reverent moment—a saint story brought to life before our eyes.


Above is a transparency I made to include in our new Martinmas & Thanksgiving Festival E-Book. A tutorial can be found in our book. It was lots of fun to make and I think I’d like to do more of these, especially one of Martin giving his cloak to the beggar.

Asher has been hearing about Saint Martin a lot at school. It never ceases to amaze me how much detail young children can remember of the complex stories they hear at school. Asher got really excited to be able to teach us all so much about Martin and his generosity. As I had been writing about Martin and Martinmas, I shared some of what I learned in my research at dinnertime, and Asher just launched in with, “Oh! I know that one!” and finished the story for me. He told us four stories about Martin that his teacher had shared.

Saint Martin stands up to soldiers #waldorf #sacramentowaldorfschool #7yearold #secondgrader #secondgrader #saints

Here is one of Asher’s school drawings, showing Martin facing an enemy army with his cross only, no weapons. Martin was an early conscientious objector. His faith in Christ made him unwilling to fight, and after a short term of service in the Roman military, he was released from duty (he later became the bishop of Tours). So in addition to his generosity toward those suffering from cold and poverty, Martin was a man of peace. It’s quite fitting, I think, that his feast day is also Veterans’ Day in the US, and Armistice Day in Europe, the day that marks the end of WWI.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

—Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, M.D., Canadian Army (1872–1918)

Painting by Szinyei Merse, Pál (1845 - 1920) (Hungarian)

1896 Painting by Pál Szinyei Merse,  (1845–1920)

Poppies. Scarlet poppies. In the UK there is a huge art installation of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London to commemorate the sacrifice of the fallen, which can be seen in photos here. It is called “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”; it is breathtaking and utterly vast, and I wish I could see it in person.

I can’t help but feel satisfied at the blending of all these overlapping festivals. Martin. Peace. Remembrance of the men and women who fell, fighting for their loved ones and countries. The Veterans’ Day holiday here, when people openly acknowledge the service and sacrifices made by our service men and women and thank them. Thanksgiving. There is a beautiful grace that evokes the poppies of Flanders fields and the human toil that we must do to benefit from earth’s abundance.

The silver rain, the golden sun,
The fields where scarlet poppies run,
And all the ripples of the wheat
are in the food that we do eat.

So when we sit for every meal,
and say our grace, we always feel
that we are eating rain and sun
and fields where scarlet poppies run.

So, I’m thinking about all these things and feeling excited about tonight. I have some lantern-making supplies here for the boys to use after school. Asher will use the lantern he made at school tonight for the lantern walk, but Lucas might want to make one to use tonight. Or he might not. He might prefer just to tag along, and stay emotionally out of it.

I’m going to gather up some clothing and coats we don’t use and take them to the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services this month. If anyone local would like to donate items also, I’ll be happy to deliver them to the organization. Let me know.

And with that, I will wish you all a season brimming with peace and gratitude.


Crafting for Martinmas

We did a little bit of crafting after I got home from work yesterday. Lucas went off to school for play practice, but Asher and I made a spur-of-the-moment lantern for Martinmas. We started with a long strip of plain paper, a sharpie, some star cookie cutters, watercolor paints, a wide mouth jar and ring, a glue gun, some yarn, and a candle.


Asher drew stars on his paper first with the sharpie, then he painted the paper. We dried it quickly with a hair dryer.


Then with the glue gun, I glued the paper around the outside of the jar. I tied four long pieces of yarn to the jar ring, then screwed on the ring to the top of the jar. I gathered up the yarn hangers into a single knot, then finger-knitted the tail to make a little handle.

Glimmer, Lantern, glimmer!

The whole project took about 25 minutes.


Then Asher, Daddy, Solstice, and I went out for a little walk in the night. The lantern worked very well, and it was fun to be out after dark.

Our tiny lantern walk


Although I have a whole collection of lantern songs, I didn’t practice them beforehand, and I couldn’t remember them very well. The last time we did this little ritual Asher was in preschool, and his sweet teacher led us and the other families through our neighborhood. Next year, in second grade, Asher will have a special Saint Martin night at school, in which the encounter between Martin, the young Roman soldier, and the nearly naked beggar, is reenacted. Martin cuts his warm cloak in two and gives half to the freezing man. Martin’s example of generosity is meant to prepare our hearts for the coming season of Christmas.

Saint Martin Chant

N and Asher

Monday is Martinmas. I’m planning on taking the kids out for a nighttime walk, to take in the cold November night and remember how grateful we are for our many blessings of warmth and safety, full bellies, friendship and light. In the spirit of generosity, I share my little poem with you.

Saint Martin Chant

© by moi, Sara E. Wilson

Into the night, we bravely go!
Within our lanterns a sprightly glow,
Within our hearts a kingly flow
Of sharing and loving to show.

Into the world, we boldly walk,
Singing our courage around the clock.
We listen to others as much as we talk.
Even in darkness, we never do balk.

In giving to others, we ourselves grow.
Thanks to Saint Martin, by giving we know
We reap so much more than ever we sow.
We march for the good, our spirits aglow.

Lantern for Lucas

Beeswax Lanterns

This poem was written originally for Little Acorn Learning’s November Enrichment Guide, which happens to be on sale at the moment at $19.99—$5 off the normal price. Among many other wonderful offerings for the month of November, this e-book features stories of peace and light, lantern songs, and a puppet show for Martinmas.


Lantern Walk

The sunlight fast is dwindling,
My little lamp needs kindling,
Its beam shines far in darkest night
Dear Lantern guard me with your light.

Last night’s Martinmas lantern walk with Asher’s preschool friends was so magical. We had a sit-down dinner of homemade soup, salad, bread, and pumpkin pie. It was wonderful to get to better know the other families whose children attend the school.

Lanterns Lighted by an Angel

An angel lighted the children’s lanterns with a spark from heaven.

N and Asher

Beeswax Lanterns

Preschool Lantern Walk

Preschool Lantern Walk

Then we walked through the neighborhood with our lanterns shining brightly.

Preschool Lantern Walk

The kids were so excited to be walking through the night and their exuberance and jumping about caused many candles to blow out. (Thank goodness Ian brought a lighter along! He’s a veteran of several such preschoolers-with-fire events.)

Preschool Lantern Walk


When we returned we followed a path lit by stars and met Mother Earth in the garden, who gave the children precious gifts to plant in the ground. She told us to guard our light and keep it safe through the darkness of the winter.

  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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