Sunday, December 23, 2012

Celebrating the Solstice

Captain Santa!  What a fun gift
from my best friend and her partner.

Yule is a modern expression of the Germanic géol, meaning 12-day festival.  It originated as a mid-winter celebration in northern Europe involving feasts and gift-giving in honour of the change of the seasons and the promise of renewal in the spring.  The solstice, the shortest day of the year, is the beginning of the celebrations as it marks the turning of the Wheel of the Year with the rebirth of the Sun.  From this point on the days get longer, the sun strengthens as the Earth’s axis swivels back once again toward its warmth.

Beautiful calendars and foot scrubbers
from my daughter and SIL.
In ancient times, people’s religions were closely tied to the Earth and her seasonal transformations.   Their mythologies told the stories of how the gods facilitated these changes and the gifts these changes represented for all life on Earth.  The focus was on celebrating life as part of the whole in balance with all that is.  It was understood and accepted that life isn’t always easy.  The gods (nature) can be fickle.  And necessarily so to keep that balance and so celebrating life – survival – became a way of showing gratitude and acknowledging one’s place within nature rather than separate from it.

The stairs became the "kiddie table" as
young people gathered there to enjoy
the feast!
Mom gives Son a bit of a ribbing.
Note the amazing "ugly sweater" design -
A Jack-a-lope!
It was in this spirit that I opened my home, Alegria, to 24 wonderful people last night in celebration of the bounty our great Mother Earth has given us.  It was in the spirit of sharing – food, laughter, love – that I welcomed them.  It was in the spirit of knowing how intrinsically we are woven together into the fabric of the Universe - tiny threads that comprise the Whole - that we gathered.   And within that gathering I found great Peace – of mind and body and soul. 
This is a very special gift from
a (hopefully) new friend.  Krista
self-published this modern
adult fairy-tale and kindly gave
me a copy.  
Among my beloved guests were family, friends and strangers alike.  There was the sharing of food, the giving of gifts and the acceptance of each other as community.  I sat in awe for some time at the blending of beliefs without judgement.  It was truly one of the best holiday celebrations I have ever had and I will treasure the memory of it for the rest of my life.
Dear friends and very special people!
Warm socks and gaiters for
snowshoeing adventures.  
Today, in the quiet after the merrymaking, Alegria still hums with the joy that filled her.  There are still dishes to do and bits of wrapping to pick up.   But that happiness, that sense of community, still lingers.  This is what it’s all about for me.

Friends and family and strangers alike
gathered at Alegria to celebrate the Solstice.

Had a bit of fun wrapping
my daughter's gift then
vandal-eyes-ing it! 
For all who stumble upon this missive, I wish you all of the very brightest of blessings.  May the winter months bring you rest and renewal and may your hearts and homes be filled with the warmth and comfort of those blessings.  

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