First Day of Winter

There is for me something so rooted to the Earth to celebrate the Solstices and Equinoxes. You are acknowledging the changes of the seasons, following the wind, the rain and the sun. The Winter Solstice tells one to rest, to conserve, and to wait for the return of the sun. Of fertility, of food. Of staying warm and safe inside, while it howls.

I grew up in a strict religious cult, where holidays were evil, the work of Satan. As I entered adulthood I had no idea how to celebrate Christmas. Even at 47 years old Christmas is alien to me. I don’t enjoy it, because I didn’t grow up with family rituals for it. I have often felt I am looking in at my family, as the boys celebrate, but I feel nothing.

When I left home the one thing I took with me was growing plants. Wherever I lived, I had plants growing. To me this is part of Earthing (grounding) of being in connection with Mother Nature at all times. The first year I sat on my neighbors roof, growing vegetables with a view of Interstate 5 below me. My friends didn’t understand me that year. Even I didn’t understand how much it would come to mean to me. I just knew I needed to be in touch with the ground under me.

Then Christmas came around and I bought a forbidden Christmas tree to put up in my apartment. And it was so cold to me. And then…my boyfriend left me at our apartment and went to his family for Christmas. And I sat there, lonely and sad. I cried for a very long time. To me, at that point in time, I thought everyone was happy but me. I have to think he had no idea how much he upset me. His parents didn’t invite me, and we had been together, living together for some time. And it cemented my views that lonely morning. Christmas wasn’t for me. I didn’t try Christmas for years, until my first son was born. I put it on for my children, we do what will be rituals for them as adults.

But for me…..

The Winter Solstice is mine.

When I met Kirk that first winter we spent the first day of Winter camping along a river in the Olympic Mountains. I brought him a gift of light (candles). I knew he’d be going back to his parents over the Christmas Holidays (he needed to pick up stuff), so I made it a holiday for us. We lit the candles, slept under the stars. Froze too, but well, it was winter.

When I was in my early 20’s I started having a Solstice dinner with friends. Serving foods from the old lands, not of the new world, in line with the pagan ancestors that are part of my DNA. Candles were lit to push the darkness away. As I got older having a fire was added if the night wasn’t raining. Tonight we may have to push the fire back as over an inch of rain is falling. But we will still light candles as the sun settles below the ridge tonight. We will feast on warming foods.

And nothing says winter like preserved vegetables, meat and cheese and maybe even sun dried strawberries, all nestled in to a bread trencher, which is enjoyed after the goods are nibbled on.

I’ll go to bed and curl up, and dream of how we will plant our ground in the coming months. I will think of walking barefoot on our land. And tomorrow the sun will return just a bit longer.

For a beautiful look at celebrating the Winter Solstice, Herbal Academy posted a wonderful one today.