Posts Tagged ‘service and charity’

Winter Solstice in place of Xmas….

December 9, 2008

Every year it hits. A general unease with the season…or more, the ‘holidays’ and every year I determine I must do something about it.

This year I have talked to family and friends and it’s rather interesting. Many feel like I do…except my son and Husband.

They are the holdouts….spoiled by the previous Xmases. Having only one child has allowed us to spoil him in certain ways. He is a good young man, 21 now, but I could see it in his face when I said: “How about no Xmas this year?”. A look of panic, like the world has stopped turning. A bit of the same in my Husband’s expression.

In Christian tradition Xmas is a time not for self-indulgence, but for sharing in ways that promise renewal for ourselves and others.

Seeking a deeper meaning for this time of year, as I am spiritual, not religious.

And that is the rub. All around are the Churches….the different denominations we have attended over the years….Episcopalian (from youth and more recently) Quaker, Mennonite. But I don’t fit.

Perhaps it’s because I have never really ‘felt’ like a Christian. And that was helped along when I realized that I was part Jewish..though that ‘secret’ was only revealed after my father died. But I was born on the wrong side of the stick, I am told by a Jew, and I am not a Jew because my mother wasn’t.

So, that claim to religion is out. But then again….I think religions…of all elk, are superstition. Or something like that. I just never…well, bought it.

I think how I would describe myself best is I am really a pagan. No, not human sacrifice, though there are some folk I would gladly throw on a merry pyre, but I don’t delve too deeply into the modern paganism that I see and have once experienced. Silly stuff, with a lot of rules and regulations.

I go more towards the worship of the Earth…the turning of the seasons, what I understand and make of it all. There is such magnificence and splendor in the Earth and nature, that why do we seem to gravitate towards tinsel and ho-ho-ho?

There is enough within nature, and what we have made of it to celebrate. I came across something about the “Holy and the Ivy” and had never understood the basis of this song. Long ago, holly and ivy were considered the male and female symbols within the forest. Songs narrated their often rowdy vying for mastery in the forest or the home. Sounds much more interesting than what we are served up with plastic boughs and plaid ribbon this time of the year.

So this year I am going to institute a celebration of the Winter Solstice. It happens on December 21. I will decorate this old house with holly (we got a large tree , a male…and we have a neighbors female tree…with berries.) and Ivy we have aplenty. Fir boughs on the mantels and windows and over the doors. We will dwell in the beauty of the Solstice, and we will light candles for the appropriate reasons.

We will strive to avoid the crowds, the tinkling bells, but we will give to the Mennonites because they seem to have a strong tradition of service.

And perhaps, in essence, this is what the season is all about: charity and service to others.

Lady Nyo


I saw the Cooper’s hawk this morning. She landed on the chimney pot outside, probably looking for my miniature hen, Grayson. Four years ago she was a starving fledging who mantled over to me while I fed her cold chicken. She’s back this holiday, my spirits lifting. A good Christmas present.

In the middle of the commercialization of Christmas, Nature closes the gap. I have noticed squirrels with pecans in mouths leaping the trees, hawks hunting over now-bare woods, unknown song birds sitting on fences, heard the migration of Sandhill cranes as they honk in formation. You hear their cacophony well before they appear.

There is a brightness to the holly, washed by our early winter rains and the orange of the nandina berries has turned crimson. The smell of woodsmoke in the air and the crispness of mornings mean the earth is going to sleep. We humans should reclaim our past and our fecal plugs and join the slumber party like our brother bears.

Jingle Bells will fade and our tension with it. Looking towards deep winter when the Earth is again silent will restore our balance and calm our nerves with a blanket of peace.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2008

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