Updates on Kindism.org will be suspended over the holidays to give everyone a chance to spend time with their families (or hide from them, depending on the situation). Regardless of how you choose to celebrate (or ignore) the holidays, I wish you all love, joy, peace and light! Regular posting will resume in the New Year! Appropriate Seasonal Greetings to All! xo Kat
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I’ve shared my struggles with Christmas in the past, and this year is no different. Yes, we are going to have a tree (without an angel on top), we will call the holiday Christmas (because it is easier), and as I pointed out before
Christmas is a wonderful mid-winter festival with a focus on family and togetherness. Bringing fresh greenery inside reminds us that the winter will end (eventually), and the lights on the tree twinkle in the growing dark of late afternoon. Hot chocolate, peppermint, and ginger cookies are tasty. What isn’t to like about a holiday that promotes such things?
This year, while our celebrations will be decidedly influenced by Western European traditions and (to some extent) American consumerist excess, I am also hoping to introduce some new ideas and traditions into the mix so that we can finally have a seasonal holiday tradition that reflects who we are, and where we are on our journeys. I hope to depart from the largely uneaten holiday meal, massive pile of gifts, and general angst that permeates the house and replace it with something lighter and more enjoyable for everyone.
With this (perhaps overly ambitious goal) in mind I got a copy of The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Carolyn McVickar Edwards so that we could have seasonal stories on hand other than a battered copy of The Cajun Night Before Christmas, and an equally well loved DVD of The Muppet Christmas Carol.
In the forward of The Return of the Light, Edwards talks about the global idea of light returning after the darkest days of winter. She focuses on the Solstice and goes on to discuss the Roman holidays of Brumalia, Saturnalia and Opalia, and how Christian (Catholic) tradition has co-opted various pagan rituals through out the holiday season. Although Sol invictus was given an over-view in the forward, I was rather disappointed that the story was not told in full later in the book. Mithra is also given a passing mention.
The stories were still a little advanced for my children, but I’m sure in the coming years they will take more interest. We incorporated some of the Rites and Games — trimming the dead wood (raking leaves counts), decking the halls (collaborating as a family and building a little seasonal scene on our Waldorf-inspired nature table), baking and eating treats (we each picked a favorite cookie recipe). I pulled out our collection of candles, picked up some of Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate, and we played board games.
I am trying to make it feel gemütlich, centered around family and loved ones, with a healthy dose of fresh air to exhaust the little ones for bedtime.
We have been bundling up in layers (waldorf children are like onions in this regard), and going for walks in the woods. Crunching through leaves, squishing through mud and splashing in the few puddles we come across. Some days we get extra adventurous and ride our bikes along the narrow trails, dodging blackberry bushes, and carefully traversing the narrow bridges.
With the early dark of evening settling in, early warm meals have graced our table: homemade pizza, potato leek soup, hearty bread, spaghetti bologense, chili. The house has smelled of baking: ginger bread, peppermint bark cookies, sugar cookies to decorate.
I’m not going to worry about the story of Baby Jesus, my oldest knows Santa is “a story” and sometimes “real people dress up like Santa — like at [the school’s Fall Festival] where people dress silly.” Baby Jesus is a story too. So is Sol Invictus, so is Mithra. In the end, Light will triumph over Darkness, and the sun will rise again. We will have bacon, cinnamon rolls, coffee (hot chocolate for the children), and open the presents under the tree. Eventually we’ll go for a post-present walk, and come back and start on a mostly-made-in-advance meal that just needs to be heated up to be enjoyed.
Santa and Baby Jesus have nothing to do with it. Credit where credit is due, Mommy is simply “awesome” (that’s Kid1’s new favorite adjective — I’m ok with being awesome).
I wish you all love, joy, peace, and light!