Last night, as the official solstice occurred, I went out and looked at the Jupiter and Saturn confluence (or whatever it’s called), humming “Star of Wonder, Star of Light” to myself. It was a welcome getaway from the people in the house once again discussing why they don’t like my stovetop (this is said with a laugh).
The morning dawned frosty and silvery, with the sun practically rising in the south, it seemed to me. I was given the gift of watching a herd of deer bounding across one of the nearby fields, with the buck turning briefly to look at me. That’s enough to warm my heart for the rest of the day.
In my office, which is a bit of a mess while I await my new glass shelves, I lit all the available fake and real candles, and of course have a roaring fire in the fake fireplace. Sitting here in the darkened room gives me plenty of time to reflect on all that’s transpired since last Yule, when Lee and I were happily preparing for our supposedly solo trip to Bandera.
This evening, I plan to light all the candles in the house and pretend I have a Yule log in the fireplace (unless I can convince someone to light a fire). This year, especially, the longest night of the year provides time to finish mourning the losses in the past months and look for the glimmer of light that’s approaching. I’m glad there are now vaccines for essential workers.
I haven’t done a memoir in a little while, so I’ll share how my family used to celebrate the solstice. It was a lot of fun when the boys were young. As they got old enough to understand, we explained to them what the winter solstice meant, and how it was celebrated in the past.
We had a tradition of having a fire, lighting all the candles in the house (and I had lots back then, since the kids’ dad was not deathly opposed to scented candles), doing a little ceremony where we shared the best thing from the past year and the worst thing (these were often pretty funny), then selecting ONE present from under the Christmas tree to open before Christmas (we also celebrated Christmas!).
We quickly learned to direct the kids (and adults) to an appropriate gift, after someone chose the batteries for another gift, and someone else chose one part of a multi-part present. That sort of took away the surprise!
It warmed my heart that my sons wanted to continue doing the solstice tradition long after their dad moved away and they grew into their early teens. It’s one of my favorite memories of the first years we were in Austin and were all together.
I think having traditions that are just for YOUR family are the best part of raising children. We’d started a new tradition of going somewhere each year, but with one son no longer in our lives and the darned COVID, we’re staying at the ranch. That will be hard on those of us who will miss a grandchild’s first Christmas, seeing their kids, or being with friends, but we will have a group of people who care about each other enough to stay safe. That is good.
Blessings to all of you, whether you just finished a holiday, are winding up your Blogmas posts, are celebrating an old tradition now, or are looking forward to your holiday later in the week. The dark winter deserves celebrations of light.