I hope everyone finds a way to feel part of a family during the holiday season, since that’s the point. In the cold dark of winter, over the longest night, we share gifts and tell stories. We share hospitality and food, and we see each other through the dark time. A family can include a sense of kinship with people who are not blood kin. If you are completely, physically, alone, it may be a good time to communicate with the nature spirits (little green guys, who like crumbs), or to meditate on and wish well toward loved ones, whoever and wherever they are. If nothing else, wake up after the longest night and greet the sun. The birth of the sun is a wonderful moment, and brings hope and warmth.
Fake happy, forced joy, and sometimes gaudy lights tend to dominate the season. People buy gifts because they have to. Dysfunctional families get together because they feel obligated. Between the hypnotic lights and the rich deserts, and the lack of genuine sharing during this time of year, it’s no wonder that people often get depressed. The push is for extroverted behavior and consumerism. The essence of the season, however, is opposite.
This is an internal time of year. It’s a good time to look at oneself honestly and to break bad habits. It’s time to identify fears, hopes, and to see exactly who we are and what we are doing with our lives. Oaths made at this time are potent. The lights and gifts are an outpouring of hope at this trying moment of self-reflection. The trees that everyone mindlessly decorate actually represent the circle of life, life within death, the promise of light, warmth, and the return of a good harvest in this moment of utter cold and darkness.
The depth of feelings during this dark time can foster significant learning curves. What we fear, dread, the parts of ourselves that need work, or that we don’t like –all this falls on us with clarity that is sudden and compelling. That is, if we are paying attention. Part of the celebration of the birth of the Sun is facing our fears and coming out the other side stronger than before.
I have come to love this time of year. It took me years, and a meditation practice, to figure out how to balance the celebratory dressing with the underlying reason, often hidden, for the season –which is reflection, genuine connections, and inner exploration. Once I figured it out, I could ride out the gaudy lights and false joy without depression. I could create my own, tasteful, bright lights and healthy nutrition and give gifts that meant something. I could connect.
Be well, and remember to leave crumbs for the green guy! 🙂
Laurel Owen, 2014