Thursday, December 25, 2008

my kind of holiday

i always find the holidays a magical, euphoric, trying, emotional and revealing time of the year. how is it possible to feel so much at once?! trust me, i'm female. excuse the stereotype but i pull all of this off and more, haha.

traditional christmas cheer has had little impact on me over the past decade or so...especially since coming to university. it's hard to get into the spirit amidst exams, frantic shopping and being more broke then ever. as a poor student, i, like most, don't really have a tree or decorations or holiday baking that never fail to warm the home during the holidays. i'm not really into commercialism to get into presents the way so many people do [although i do love to give them]. for me, the idea of 'christmas' has been something i preserve mainly for my baby brother [who, at 9, is no longer a baby i suppose].

don't think i'm going all ebenezer on you. i LOVE the holidays. i love the idea of getting together with family to share traditions and spend quality time together. i embrace the generosity and goodness around me and try to reciprocate. i believe in joy to the world and peace on earth and all of those beautiful things. but i think, 'christmas' in many ways, for many people, doesn't really hold anything. it has certainly been over-commercialized, and for many families and children, it seems more about how much money is spent and how many gifts there are under the tree than anything else. i don't believe that the vast majority of people that get themselves caught up in the christmas riot are actually, like...why? it is not mass tradition to celebrate kwanzaa or yom kippur.

anyway, i'm certainly not criticizing anyone for celebrating christmas. i just think it is important to consider why and what you are celebrating, especially if you are not a christian. if quality time and old traditions are shared in the name of christmas, then bring it on! but it should never be an obligation. an inconvenience. i guess my concern really stems from how MUCH i appreciate the holidays, and i'm sad for those whom it doesn't really hold any meaning or magic.

these were things that i got considering at a pretty young age, and so in my early teens, it started to become tradition that i would celebrate the winter solstice on the 21st. i'd get together with my grandparents, my mom, my brother, my best friend and whichever guests were interested in seeing what this 'solstice thing' was all about [past guests have included a very pleasant jewish woman and a fanatical born-again christian, clutching her bible] and we would have a different celebration. solstice is a celebration of the shortest day of the year, embracing the return of the light, as the days begin to get longer again. it's a chance to reflect on the year gone by and to put positive energy into establishing goals and dreams for the new year. there's lots of feasting, music and family heart-to-hearts...and i love it.

every year, i find it breathtaking. solstice has become this wonderful, personal mix of traditional pagan ceremony, our old christmas rituals and even some native traditions. i write a formal ceremony every year, and try to make each a little different from the last. i like to start by describing what solstice is, so that everyone in attendance knows WHY they are there. we then purify ourselves and cleanse the space that we are holding our ceremony in [i prefer to do it outside, weather permitting]. next, we call upon the forces of nature and our ancestors to protect us and comfort us while we describe lesson's learned and hopes for the future. we wrap things up with cheering and throwing of confetti and then proceed to perform a ceremony for the apple trees to encourage growth in the spring. the rest of the night is spent reading our favourite poetry and short stories. those who are musically inclined might play us some music. new-age, hippy, bullcrap? maybe, to some. to me, THIS is what the holiday is all about and it always reminds me of how much i appreciate my non-conventional upbringing.

the following morning, we open up our presents and have a wonderful brunch. by this point, 'christmas' is more or less finished in my heart. i mean, the good feelings carry on throughout the season, but i always find it really hard after this to get excited about 'christmas', which i celebrate a few days later with my mom and brother. it's still nice, but it's just not as meaningful. for me. we don't really have any traditions that can even compare with the magic of solstice.

i AM excited for all of you however! i hope that you are having a christmas that means as much to you as solstice means to me! i hope that wonderful, thoughtful gifts were exchanged, lots of laughs had, and lots of tasty food eaten. and relax! it's the holidays. this is supposed to be pleasant :).

i'm hanging out in pembroke until sunday, and i am so, SO excited to get back to the bay to wrap up the holidays with my friends and with nathan. it's always bittersweet to get to come home and have a lovely time with my family, because at the same time my heart is usually yearning for the university-family i have left behind. these people are also my family and i miss them terribly over the holidays. so far, there are no plans for new years, but i do intend to pop champagne and try and watch the sun rise. wish me luck!

peace, love && laughter!!

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