Friday, December 10, 2010

on gratitude, winter, and ceremony

Although the holiday decor is beginning to overwhelm the simple beauty of the desert, the days are still hitting 80 degrees around here. The season of holidays & family doesn't feel quite the same when it's not cold, and family is too far away. We've still been managing to suck it all in, though.

Feelings of gratitude filled Thanksgiving with the meaning it should always have. Not only am I grateful for amazing friends and family, but also for the beauty that nature inspires me with, for the most incredible man as my husband and love, for what the past has taught me, for what the future holds, and mostly for this very moment. To be alive and healthy and to hear birds singing and feel a breeze on my toes as I type this.

We celebrated our gratitude with good food and good friends. Our first vegan Thanksgiving was the most delicious one yet.

We've also been trying to create our own traditions. Once we have a family of our own, we want the special things to share with each other. It's hard because we don't want all those traditions that promote materialism, selfishness, waste, and other tenants of the "American dream." So we're re-designing things. For example, on the equinox I wrote down all the things that I wanted to invite into my life and all those that I wanted to let go of. This is in an effort to recognize the balance represented by equinox.

So, for solstice, we decided to create a yule wreath. This idea was inspired by another blogger. Since we have no fir trees or evergreens close by, we collected foliage from native flora: palo verdes, mesquite trees, yucca stems, and desert sage.

We created a wreath, and Chip carved candle holders out of wood. We have four candles around the edges (one for each element: earth, air, fire, water), and one in the middle which we will light on solstice. This is to honor the light that is in each element, and the darkness as well. And when the final candle is lit, it will be the candle that burns through the longest night, welcoming the sun back to her throne come morning. I think it is important to recognize the balance in life and earth, and to embrace the elements that make up our life. These are things I want to share with my children. This season is more than plastic toys and cookies and cakes. It's also bigger than specific religious ideas suggest. People have been celebrating and honoring the balance of light and dark since before recorded history. We hope to keep this consciousness alive. It's really great to be able to create your own traditions- so that they hold real meaning for you and yours.

Hopefully, this is just one step on the path to leading a fuller, more conscious, more meaningful life. One that focuses on the present moment and our relationship to the world around us and inside us. :)

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