As I’ve mentioned we really do up the Winter Solstice holiday season.
I spend my time decorating, singing and passing on our lovely family traditions to my children. A lot of people question why I go to all of this effort. I rarely answer that to their satisfaction. I suppose it stems back to my childhood and being terribly homesick around the holidays, my first few years away from home.
My parents went all out for the holidays. In the same way that planting a garden is something that has always been done in our family, the winter vacation was filled with homemade treats, music and warm candle light. It wasn’t just my parents who loved the holidays. I have many fond memories of spending holidays with my extended family. My paternal Grandmother’s home is still decked out every year and Christmas Eve is never the same if I don’t have oyster stew. My maternal grandmother made oyster dressing for Christmas dinner and brought us all hand crocheted slippers. Family from all over would send long newsy letters and we all felt closer to our kin.
One-by-one, as they have married and had children, my four siblings have joined me in my holiday mania. Come these first cold days of winter you can be sure we will be found decorating, singing and passing the love of our traditions on to our children. We stretch the season out; bringing light and happiness to the darkest days of the year. We do really insane things like bring all fourteen cousins together for cookie baking and cocoa drinking – Johnny Mathis tapes and White Christmas almost always enter the equation.
Twenty-one years ago my sister Niki, made me the little ornament in the lower lefy hand corner of this picture for my first holiday tree. Today, Trapolin made his big sister the ornament in the upper right for her first tree. She has her own home now. It was more than a bit hard for me to think of her not being here for all of our goings-on. She joins us when she can and in her own home, she’s decorating, singing , and passing the love of our holiday traditions on to her little one.
The thought of that unbroken chain of tradition makes every moment of effort on my part , worthwhile. This is the meaning of this season, no matter your spiritual beliefs. For time untold, people have come in from the cold to the warm glow of the hearth, singing and making merry to banish the fear of the long, dark nights. I believe that today, we continue to do so because in our hearts-in that spot where we store the memories of our ancestors-we know that this is how it has always been.
So whatever your particular reason for the season, I hope that you spend the next few weeks savoring the memories of past holiday seasons and creating wonderful new ones. It is never too late to revive an old practice or start fresh. Have a good first day of December.