Friday, December 21, 2012

return of the light

Happy Winter Solstice to you all!  I love how all this cooking, baking, decorating, elving, giving and joy helps us through the darkest days of winter.  And here we are, over the hump, and ready to honor the return of the light.  My mom and brother showed up yesterday.  This afternoon we went for a walk just as the sun was setting.  It was stinging cold and awesome.    
:: I have mentioned before my desire to develop meaningful rituals and traditions with my kids.  Now that Juniper is 3 and logging lifetime memories, I have an overwhelming urge to solidify lasting holiday family mores.  But I am working from a cracked and broken foundation and while I am so excited! to raise the walls of our new rituals, I also want to fill in some gaps and shore up the footing.  I want our holiday to represent us--our family--and those things we hold dear.  We're working on it.  Slowly, we are carving out a place for our family within the season.  As usual, I have grand plans that are wholly unrealistic within our days.  Despite the bustle, I'm trying to focus on slow family time.

This year, we are putting a stronger emphasis on giving back.  Juniper is so excited for Santa! and presents! and cookies! but we try to remind her that yes, Santa gives gifts because he is kind and caring.  She helped me pick the recipient of our Angle tree gift; we talked a lot about how it's important to give to those who have less than we do.  And we are giving back to the land we love.  My man and I are permanently protecting nearby public land from oil & gas drilling--we're "giving" (i.e. protecting) an acre of land for each of our girls.  An acre for their future.  

:: Snapshots from the last few weeks:

Our tree--and the adventure that came with it.  I adore this ancient tradition of bringing the outside in, during these cold, short days.  (Also, in our area, the aspens really appreciate us thinning out some of the conifers.)  
  ^This was just after Thanksgiving and before we got a load of snow.^

Tea Time.  Fast becoming an after-school tradition.
Homemade ornaments.  We have lots of homemades--dating back to the 1970's--their histories written on the back: who made it, who received it, in what year.  Juniper and Hazel have both added their own handmades to the tree and I look forward to doing more every year.    
Decorating.  Holy moly.  Juniper's been "decorating" our house since the beginning of November.  She decorates, then re-decorates, adding some bling! to this home where we spend so much of our lives this time of year.  
^Juniper "decorating" in early November.^
^Juniper's decorations in early December.^
^And man was she serious about decorating the tree.^

Advent Calendar.  This year, my mom sent the calendar I grew up with, made by my Grandma.  It's so seventies, but we love it.  A couple ornaments were lost...I replaced one with a Solstice sun Juniper and I made together.   
Christmas songs.  Have I ever mentioned how much Juniper loves to sing?  She loves singing on any given day, and tends to sing a lot when she's excited, but since November she's been bopping along to Christmas songs.  I bought a caroling handbook just so I could help her get the correct wording.  Her favorites?  What she calls, "The bad pear tree" (we tried to correct her in the beginning--"it's a partridge in a pear tree"--but she wasn't going for it).  Jingle Bells, of course.  And Up on the Rooftop.  Also, she knows the poem "T'was the Night Before Christmas" nearly by heart.  
^Juniper "Dashing through the snow...!!!"^
^Here she is building some "bad pear trees".^

Elving, making, giving.
Ordinary days.  When 3 year olds wear a bear costume, dancing skirt and fairy wings all at once.  (She also wanted to wear her bathing suit and snowpants but I had to tell her they wouldn't fit.)
Standing Hazel.  She can't get enough.  She lives to stand.  She is fast becoming the captain of her own ship.
Elk meat.  At his very last opportunity for the season, my husband killed a cow elk and filled a freezer that was looking a little thin.  As a family, we crouched around this elk's face and thanked her for giving her life to feed us.  J bug help my man cut the meat off the bones.  She used her own wooden toy knife, but her real job was to put fat scraps in a pile for our resident magpies.  Gosh, were they happy.  On several occasions, Juniper stopped, held this elk's muzzle between her palms, and said, "Thank you elk.  Thank you for the muscles."     
First blush.  Juniper's relationship with Santa is similar to that of the bears.  She's obsessed with him, and afraid of him.  When he came to visit our town, we waited patiently in line only to have her skirt out at the last second.  We sat and sipped hot coco for a good half hour and she never took her eyes off him.  And yesterday, guess who made a surprise visit to J's preschool?  When he walked in the door...that was the first time I've ever seen Juniper blush.  I watched her cheeks turn beet red as he walked across the room.  She was totally okay with him, but refused a turn on his lap.  Then, just before he left, he stepped towards her to give her a stocking (since she didn't get a turn on his lap), but dang she shot right out of there and ran towards me.  My husband thinks this should be our Christmas card photo:
And here we are.  Talking about the sun.  Keeping it simple.  Giving.  Feasting.  Loving.
Happy Solstice.  

1 comment:

  1. I feel the same way about holiday rituals, striving to find a balance between the time frame reserved by society (ie days of at Christmas and New Year--not Solstice) and creating meaningful rituals that work in our family. Its tricky. I feel like we're adding a bit each year and try to be OK with that. But as you said, they're banking memories now, and I'd like to solidify some traditions that we can be sure will happen each year successfully. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and photos, beautiful.


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