She doesn’t! She celebrates Solstice. And we start the day with candlelight.
At our house we do a big celebration for Solstice because we’re not Christians. Taoist-Buddhist-Pagan eclectic mix is what we do here (although, I’ve been thinking about that, too- and probably need to reconsider what right I have to those traditions. But not today…)
One of the reasons we celebrate Solstice (both of them, and the Equinoxes) is our dedication to science, but also because they are the celebrations that our closest to the body. Before central heating, our bodies knew what season it was because of the changes in the light and the changes in temperature each season. Even now, I need more thyroid medication during the winter because my body is registering that it’s time to slow down, experience less light, and my metabolism responds accordingly. We’ve lost some of that physical connection with the seasons (okay, but we did gain Netflix, so it’s not all bad) but we can reconnect with it easily enough by connecting with the solstices and equinoxes. So, here we are.
Around here we relax during the day, letting the darkest day sink into our bones- because there is a natural desire to slow down during this time of year. We eat a candle-lit dinner to acknowledge and enjoy the dark. At dinner we will eat foods that remind us of the sun- sweet potatoes, orange cheese, oranges, fizzy drinks (I have no idea why that reminds me of the sun, just go with me on this), we make a ‘sunshine’ cake, and other items that make us feel happy amongst the dark.
We perform the ritual of letting dark things go. The winter Solstice is the time to let go of what no longer serves us- to unwind, untie, unlearn, and release that which is no longer needed. We write things on paper and burn them in a clay pot- and use the ashes to feed a new plant that we will love into the new year and into Spring.
It is also a time to honor the dark- because darkness is part of human nature, too. And without our fear, anger, frustration, sadness, and grief we are incomplete (what would we be if we were happy all the time?). So we also bless the darkness for holding balance in our lives.
I spend time with all the holiday things that bring me sensual pleasure.
Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong album – truly full of adult holiday feelings
Harry Connick Jr.’s Songs I Heard – not Christmas-based but reworking childhood favorites
The Muppets singing “Little Saint Nick” – because you need Animal grinding it out, okay?
“Stop the Cavalry” by The Cory Band – which is a weird but enjoyable anti-war/nuke protest song. But it sounds like Christmas.
And my ‘put it on repeat’ favorite: “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses.
[I will tell you, I got super sick of Christmas music the other day and had to put on some Van Halen, Rush, and Aerosmith. So, raise your glass for sensuality and 80s rock this Solstice.]
I will drink my favorite tea. (Once you have British tea, you can never go back. Buy it here.) Lots of sugar, lots of cream.
I’ll read favorite books.
Sections from David Copperfield. Because in AP English (waytoomanyyearsago) we read it in December and I can never go without it now.
A children’s book my grandmother gave me when I was diagnosed with diabetes (36 years ago!) called “Joel Schick’s Christmas Present” which is a re-telling of the 12 Days of Christmas, except with strange creatures. Creatures that eat the decorations. And once you sing it in your head with the new words, you will have trouble remembering the old ones.
Something from Toot & Puddle, a quieting favorite when my kids were small.
I will put my children to bed, snuggling with my daughter as the twinkly lights hang quietly in her room. My son simply wants hugs these days. I will feel my body against their’s, remembering when they were small enough to fit into my arms.
I’ll curl up in my favorite sweater and jeans and watch Emmett Otter’s Jugband Christmas (which no one but me loves) and The Family Stone, with a bowl of popcorn. [Except I lied. Tonight is the opening of Season 4 of Peaky Blinders on Netflix. And I am going to watch and fall in love with Tommy Shelby and his intelligent, graceful violence once again. He is so fucking delicious.]
I feed myself what I most need on this day, with a special awareness of the dark, of its gifts, and of the promise of coming light. And Solstice will be the calmest day of my year.