Planning Our Holiday Celebration
As I said in that recent, but very old, post…My little family of dh, ds and I do not celebrate Christmas. Dh is Pagan and we raised ds much more in the Goddess tradition than anything else. Me? I’m non-religious, though of any spiritual practices, the Earth/Season/Wheel of the Year spirituality makes the most sense to me. So, I am happy to go along with dh’s beliefs. We celebrate the Solstices and Equinoxes and depending on our energy, we celebrate (or at the very least acknowledge) the minor holidays that fall between them, Imbolc, Beltane, Lamas, and Samhein (Halloween). And this year…I discovered a celebration that we had been missing, called Little Yule, which occurs on the day that has the earliest sunset of the year.
Winter Solstice is a big deal for us, so we are looking forward to it. It is the honoring of the longest night/darkness of the year and the death and rebirth of the Solar year. After Winter Solstice, each day becomes longer and longer….Truly a joy and delight up here in the north.
Our celebration spreads over two days to encompass the longest night. On Solstice Eve, we let the darkness occur naturally in our home. We don’t use our electric lights, but rather invite in the darkness and use candles to give us what light we need. Okay…there is on cheat on that. We always have a tree up and decorated and the lights on the tree stay on. 😉 But other than that the lighting is simple and dim. Dh often reads a story and we have seasonally appropriate picture books that we pull out and read (books when from ds was a little guy). We listen to music and eat good foods. Sometimes we do a little ritual, as Winter Solstice is a good time for setting aside the old and embracing the new, to correspond with the ending of the old Solar year and the start to the new Solar year. It is a time for releasing the past, making goals and looking forward.
There is a tradition of staying up all night on Solstice so that you can see the sun rise and be there for the birth of the new Solar year. We are <ahem> a bit too old at this point for all-nighters, so we get up in the morning and watch the sun rise. After that, we open presents. And then lounge about with music and more good food and enjoying our family time. It’s all relaxed and fun.
The past several years, we have been more lax about celebrating. When ds was younger, we kept him home from school to celebrate, but as he hit high school, he didn’t want to miss classes and so that didn’t happen. And then my depression sort of killed a lot of the fun for me. Also, as family planner and motivator, with me down with depression, things just didn’t get involved.
But this year…I am making it happen. I am revitalizing Solstice. We got our tree, and on our traditional timeline, the day after Thanksgiving (this was one of the things we had been lax about because I often had to work that day.) Our schedules allow us to be start our celebration in the afternoon of Solstice Eve and then everyone will be home the next day.
Anyway, so I sat down yesterday and did some menu planning. We traditionally have Monkey Bread on Solstice Eve and a simple supper. This year, it will be corn chowder, fresh baked bread and salad. I am also going to make fruit salad. And we will have popcorn and I will make candied nuts for snacking on. The next morning, we will have a cinnamon bun “casserole” and breakfast sausages. The casserole is a new dish, but I saw a recipe online and it looked amazing. Now…half this stuff I can’t/don’t eat but that’s okay. I’ll have soup and salad and fruit and popcorn. My new dietary needs only throws a small wrench into the works.
I am feeling good about getting our holiday tradition back on track and getting to enjoy it to the fullest. It feels safe and right and it helps to balance the craziness and pressure of Christmas.