If this year has taught us anything, it is that we need to get back to basics! In my mind, this doesn’t just include stocking up on toilet paper and canned goods, but old fashioned ways of communicating and focusing on a stronger familial community. Social media doesn’t cut it for keeping people close. We don’t need 552 friends. Technology is changing our lives. It makes me sad that so many things may go by the wayside. That my granddaughters may not know the fun of a date to a movie theater, the smells of popcorn filling the air when they walk in. The joy of walking down an old main street shopping in small mom-and-pop stores. The sweetness of receiving a Christmas card! It is not too late for us to save many things that make life nicer.
A Christmas card is such a lovely gesture. One reserved for those we are thinking of, those we want to send a hello and a blessing to. Well, you know me, I joke that I came straight from 1882. I am an old fashioned gal and I do love to receive letters and Christmas cards and get and make phone calls. Sometimes I get too busy, and I am going to do differently and be more proactive at telephoning and writing those I care about.
When I was little, we would receive a lot of Christmas cards, my grandparents did too, and they had a clever way of recycling them. The cards were packed up with all the Christmas bobbles and memories and then brought out the next year. I do the same. Tear off the front of the card and use it as a tag on a beautifully wrapped present. The added bonus is re-reading the cards from last year! The cards get a second life and bring joy twice.
Cards received here get fewer and fewer but I love to read them, re-read them, then affix them to gifts for loved ones. I still send out lots of cards and I will continue to do so. Christmas is special in that it allows us to make people feel important. Gifts and cards, phone calls and hugs all let folks know they have been seen and they are loved.
Happy Holidays to you all!
Should you like to drop me a card or a New Year’s missive, I would love to write you back!
There are four holidays celebrated during the month of December. They are all culturally important, and in the end, they represent the very same concepts, and give rise for celebration and unity.
Kwanzaa begins December 26th and is the newest holiday, created in 1966 to unite African Americans. Having a small amount of Sudan descent, I am intrigued by this holiday. Being fascinated by the world makes me interested in all celebrations. Kwanzaa focuses on seven principals, each being thought of each day as a candle is lit. Unity, Self Determination (self strength), Collective work and responsibility, Cooperative economics (supporting each other’s businesses), Purpose, Creativity, and Faith in each other. Candles, food, family, community, gift giving (generosity), and hope is the basis of Kwanzaa.
Beloved Christmas was created to overshadow the pagan holiday, Yule. Who doesn’t love the twinkly lights, the music, gift giving, family, candles, greenery, and the childlike wonder that comes with the season? It is my favorite time of year. Kindness, hope, and faith fill the moments of the season.
Hanukkah is a celebration of light and hope. When the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, the eternal light within only had enough oil for one day. People were sent out to retrieve more oil. It took them eight days to get back, but the light had stayed lit. For this miracle, Hanukkah is referred to as the Festival of Lights. It is actually a minor holiday but was given more focus because of Christmas. Gift giving and lighting the menorah are a part of this holiday. Family and togetherness are the focus.
Yule is the original celebration- the Solstice- and is celebrated from December 21st until January 1st. The festival came about because the holly king (who looks a lot like Santa) is defeated by the Oak King, and the sun is born. In times of old, the cold and darkest time of the year was one of concern, and it looked like the sun stayed the same for twelve days. The Yule log was burned for twelve days in hopes of pleasing the sun god so that it would return. The oak king is also known as the green man, the face of crops, greenery, and life.
All of the celebrations this month have some very important aspects to them, and that is what we can focus on this time of year. There is no need to “try to get in the spirit”, the spirit is within you.
The wood stove ticks along as the sun rises fuchsia pink across the horizon. The warmth feels good on this cool morning. I can scarcely believe it is October. I am mostly finished canning and preserving. Just need to put up some jars of beans for quick dinners. There are a few winter crops left in the ground to water today. The freezer is filled with sustenance along with the shelves of brightly colored jars. Yes, autumn is upon us. And though there is plenty to do to keep my fingers nimble, there is more time to think and reminisce.
I keep seeing the name Dahl many places I go and on things I notice. Not a popular name to keep seeing, but there is Lisa sending love from beyond the veil as I weave on the loom she gave me. Her last name was Dahl. It is the time of Samhain, you know.
I think of Grandma as I crochet a blanket for a baby I will help deliver soon and remember her gentle instructions when I was a young girl crocheting my first blanket. I pull up the collar of Aunt Donna’s shirt and look at how well her rhubarb is doing in my garden. I brought it over before her house was sold last month. I raise my glass of wine to Steve and can finally listen to Andrea Bocelli again without tearing up. I keep seeing people that look like Kat out of the corner of my eye. Yes, it is the holiday of remembrance.
They are referred to as pagan holidays because pagan means “peasant” and the country folks of Europe didn’t easily give up their spiritual beliefs when the church demanded them too. Pagan was used derogatorily, and the agricultural festivals of old were considered of the devil. (A character not created until later.) Just as the beliefs of Native Americans, and the Aztecs, and many cultures around the world nearly lost to organized religion, did not want to give up their original faith, neither did the early Europeans. The original spirituality did not need to be taught, it was felt, and still, the original ways feel natural, particularly if one is a farmer.
Samhain (pronounced Sow-wen)- much like the Day of the Dead and other celebrations around the world- is the time of remembrance. We have been busy all summer, we now sit and tend to our quiet chores by firelight. We set an extra place at the table. We light candles for those that have gone on before us. Pull out photographs. Notice odd activity- creaking cupboards, names popping up, songs that keep playing, activity that lets us know that the dead didn’t go very far, but are helping us along our way. We remember, we mourn, we find joy.
But Samhain is not just for remembering and honoring the dead. It is a gentle reminder that we are alive! Let us be alive! Call our loved ones. Hug our grandchildren. Be kind to others. And make memories with those we love. There is nothing more important than family and chosen family. That all comes together during this sacred time of Samhain.
Greetings Folks! I am reporting here from piles of wrapping paper and dirty dishes. My heart is happy, as all of my children and grandchildren slept over Christmas Eve and Santa arrived sometime in the night. The morning is sunny and crisp and fresh with new insights, hopes, and dreams. And gratitude. Always gratitude.
For here on Pumpkin Hollow Farm (where I recover from the flu and a sprained back) I watch the chickens drinking deeply of their water, the large fluffy giant at the back door wondering if I will finish my breakfast cereal, and the cats sprawled about while the kittens play. My abode. I wonder which animals will be sent to our care this coming year.
2020 sounds awfully futuristic, doesn’t it? A dear friend of mine that I used to visit at a nursing home was born in 1892. It is all really a blink of an eye. I intend to notice more. Use my senses more. Lead from the heart. Proceed with love. Oh, I have a plethora of things that are going on a list of resolutions and vision boards, I’ve got molding to do! But I also am looking forward to a new year with my dearest friends. My beloved family. My animals. This land. And myself. ‘Tis a blessing to be here indeed.
Yule is not over! Our ancient tradition included 12 days from the 20th through the 31st. It was not until 567 AD that the Christian church decided it would become a part of Christianity and changed it to overlap their perceived Epiphany. Yule is all about the end of darkness through the birth of the light, the son of (the) God. It is about the sun returning. It is about banishing evil spirits and good luck for the coming year. For twelve days, the people would gather and tell stories, visit others, and celebrate the sun’s precious rays growing stronger. Is there someone you can visit in your community? Can you take a basket of food and crossword puzzles to an elder? Can you put bird seed out for the feathered ones?
As we think of ways to improve our own health and habits, let us also think of ways to be more of a light to those around us. Wishing you all health and happiness on this glorious morn, and I hope you had a lovely holiday with ones you hold dear.
Blessed Yuletide cometh soon. The light returns in just two moons. This morn is cast a cheery rose across melting snowy pastures, as the dawn awakens the world here on my little homestead. And I am content before the fire with a cup of strong coffee and kittens playing nearby.
I oft write about things to come and things to do and things to change, but rarely sit in wonder of a lit Yule tree and think of all those that love me. I have so many that I overwhelmingly adore. My life is filled with great love, and in that, I need nothing more. And yet, I write to you from stunning views of mountains at dawn and the warmth of the fire in the wood stove warms me as my heart warms in the winter light.
My homemade presents are nearly complete and I so loved creating sweet things for all. I have one more row of a scarf to complete and then wrapping of all gifts will commence. Nat King Cole croons sweetly from the kitchen, and my mind turns to Santa, who will be coming to my house once more. How I love being a Grammie.
My wish for you, my friends, is peace. Peace of spirit and peace of mind. Of decisions that make the world better and your own life better too. Time spent with those that love you. And that you love too. I wish you gratitude and seed catalogs.
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Opening the mailbox and pulling out a pretty envelope brings a childlike feeling of wonder to the season. I do love Christmas cards. In the era of social media, when we all know most of what is going on in each other’s life already, a card seems moot. Less and less folks send Christmas cards each year. It seems to be a dying art, much like letter writing, or visits in person. I enjoy seeing actual handwriting. Hand written notes that perhaps didn’t make it on social media. Not phony, bragging Christmas letters; just a nice old fashioned note from people we care about. A card is a hug sent through the mail.
Cards decorate walls for the holiday and next year the fronts can be torn off and used as gift tags on gifts.
The point is not necessarily to get a card in return, but to send, by means of a simple, lovely card, a silent memento that speaks of your care for the person. And that is something we need much more of in the world.
In the writing world, it is how we make more friends. If you would like to send me a card, I would be thrilled to send you one in return. And who knows, it may end up being a lifetime of letter writing and friendship.
The number one reason that folks feel depressed during the holidays is because they do not feel welcome, a part of a village, or loved as they are. There are habits that have been acceptable for a long time that we as parents and friends must change. If this is the season for kindness, than we must go beyond random acts of kindness to strangers and really be kind and absolutely loving to those around us.
Now, this is important- Number One- no nagging. For god’s sake, we don’t really think that nagging will endear our children to us, do we? Your grown children make decisions every day- hard ones- and are becoming the people they are meant to be (whether they are eighteen or fifty-five!) and they need support, not “advice.” Once they head out that front door as a young person setting out into the world, their business is no longer yours. They are more likely to come to you for advice and friendship if you are not already badgering them. The way they raise their children is not your business either. They can homeschool, travel the world, be strict, have no rules, or send them to private school. Our only job is to show by example unconditional love. Unconditional love. That is what this world needs more of, especially around the holiday table.
Perhaps your daughter brings home a young man with a mohawk or her new girlfriend. Or your son brings home a woman your age, or someone of a different religion. Maybe your child quit college to your dismay and your daughter moved in with her best friend who has less-than-admirable habits. (None of that is your business.) Our job now is to be undeniably loving, welcoming, supporting, hugging, happy and accepting examples of love. That is what people need. Unconditional love.
I adore all of my kids’ friends. Many of them call me mama. Everyone knows that we can squeeze in more chairs. I will have plenty of food. Everyone is welcome at my table- mohawk or not. They also know they can call me to talk or if they need advice.
My mother used to say (following the advice of many parenting gurus) that she is not our friend, she is our mother. That is too bad, because she is still not my friend, sadly. Be friends with your kids, their friends, the neighbors down the street, the woman who just lost her husband, the coworker without family here, the people that Creator sends into your life. They are not being sent to you to be saved, they are being sent to you to be loved.
Let’s make this holiday season a bright one for others by accepting them as they are, opening your home and table to them, offering respite from expectations, and offering unconditional love. See how that doesn’t just change your world and the world around you.
The sun hasn’t risen over the horizon yet and the cedars and houses are but silhouettes. It is a lovely time of day. A time of contemplation and memory. And today is Samhain; an entire day of contemplation and memory. So many have lost touch of what this holiday is really about. Candy and ghouls didn’t come until much later.
Samhain is the last harvest festival in the agricultural calendar. Also known as the Day of the Dead in Mexico and by many other names by the thousands of spiritual paths around the world throughout time, Samhain is the name of the Celtic festival. It is a day of remembrance.
Samhain is the last of the three harvest festivals. In August, we celebrated the harvest of grains and herbs. In September, we celebrated the harvesting of autumn crops and the joy of filling our larder. In October, the animals that would be used as sustenance to get through the cold months are harvested.
Now, the days are shorter and colder and the farm work is done. Days went by in a whirl and it is already October. The deaths of loved ones the previous year stay heavy on our hearts at this time with less to do. Their memories with us and grief present.
I find it rather difficult not to believe in spirits and ghosts doing the work I do, but many people shut it out. Perhaps Hollywood movies have scared us too much. But our loved ones are within earshot and all around us, in a slightly different realm, but sometimes still visible. They come to us in dreams and sometimes you can hear them. As I was moving, I was so overwhelmed with packing and stress. Twice right before we moved, as I walked through my garden, a strange white mist filled an area near my Hawthorn tree. All we have to do is pay attention.
Well Dears, today the veil is thinnest. One might note that a lot of folks seem to pass away this time of year. One also might note cupboard doors open, strange songs playing, and lots of “coincidences.” It is Samhain and our loved ones are very, very close.
Today we remember those that we have lost this year. Last Halloween morn, Doug and I heard and saw two small owls screeching and making quite a racket outside our window. The owls only come to me when there is a big event. Great-Aunt Donna had died. Grandma waited until after Ayla was born on her and Grandpa’s 70th anniversary, then went and joined her sister. For them and the countless other loved ones we have lost in our lifetime, we will light candles and place an extra plate at the table. A candle will go into the west window so that the wandering spirits out visiting will be able to find their way home. A fire in the wood stove with chairs around to greet those that come. That is what Samhain is about.
May your loved ones visit and your heart heal from grief. May your pantries be filled with food and your homes filled with laughter and family!