I trust your Thanksgiving fed you in all the ways you wanted and needed to be fed.
We’re in the throes of a holiday season with new conditions imposed on us. This gives us an opportunity to be flexible, inventive, and creative.
If we can’t do holidays exactly as we’re used to, if we need to be more on Zoom and less in person, if we’re more at home than traveling, how can we still honor the loved ones and traditions that so fill our souls?
In this season of waning light and growing darkness, many of us celebrate the birth of Light and the return of light.
Lights glowing from candles, menorahs, temples, synagogues, mosques, churches, cathedrals, brightening the long nights. Lights adorning houses, trees, and yards, warming the cold nights.
Lights that hopefully will light up our hearts as well as the hearts of ones who find themselves alone and lonely this holiday season. May we open our hearts to them.
Let there be music!
Not just the commercial Xmas songs blasting from radios, loudspeakers, shopping centers, to our delight or annoyance. But music that stirs our souls and reminds us of the deeper meanings of our celebrations.
Perhaps we’re singing the Kol Nidre, Jewish mourning song, in remembrance of our loved ones no longer with us. Perhaps we’re singing and dancing in the streets, safely of course. Or cupping a fragile flame with our hands as we sing Silent Night with the Schuyler Sisters from the cast of Hamilton.
I feel pretty certain saying, there will be food.
Whether it’s potato latkes, new year’s tamales, gumbo, a stuffed bird of some sort, or a lavish array of fresh fruits and veggies, there will be food.
And no doubt, a profusion of goodies. From Christmas cookies to pumpkin and sweet potato pies, to plum puddings, to you name it, sweet treats, here we come, ready or not.
This will no doubt be accompanied by festive beverages of choice, be they latte-ish, fizzy, bubbly, hot, sweet, and spicy, or your favorite glass of grog. We’ll drink a cup of kindness yet to Auld Lang Syne as 2020 dissolves into 2021, releasing with relief an old year and welcoming the new.
And that’s just skimming the surface.
So again the question —
What do you celebrate this time of year? And how do you celebrate it?
I’m happy to go first.
I start with Advent — that special time between now and early January of quiet stillness when my heart’s full of anticipation. The hushed stillness I carve out for myself is one of the key ways I replenish my well. And oh, does it need replenishing right now.
To stay on track with this intention, I’m taking an e-course on Advent. Replete with meditations, music, and readings for contemplations, its creators describe Advent this way:
There is something wondrous and expectant evoked by the very word “Advent.” What is this expectation that beckons within our hearts, that seems to be called forth again and again anew each Advent? The aching sense of fulfillment not yet realized; the hunger and the thirst of the heart for something yet to come; an orientation beckoning from the future? ~Pamela Begeman, Mary Anne Best and Julie Saad of Contemplative Outreach, via Spirituality & Practice: Resources for Spiritual Journeys.
Brought to you by Zoom…
Normally, this stillness is punctuated by concerts and programs. I live in an area where these events proliferate. This year some are not happening, like the wonderful choir concert at Oakland’s Greek Orthodox Ascension Cathedral.
Many are happening on Zoom. and because they are, I can go to more of them. Oh, boy! And because of Zoom, you can too! I look forward to inviting friends and family near and far to join me for these festivities:
So the Dance-Along Nutcracker is happening in our living rooms in two weeks! I will don tights and join the six-year-old Sugar Plum Fairies, prancing around my living room with what I remember from the years of ballet I took. This is part of the uber festive comedy musical the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Band presents for their 2020 fans.
I celebrate Winter Solstice with the California Revels — also Zooming this year. More singing, more dancing, more revelry, but sadly without the hot cocoa and the chocolate chip cookies you can smell baking while reveling and enjoy piping hot during intermission. Sigh. I’m still attending in full regalia.
And finally, Christmas…
My little church will have some form of Carols & Candlelight as is our tradition. I get to help plan it this afternoon — also on Zoom. Afterward, I drive around and take in Christmas lights. Some neighborhoods outdo themselves. I expect this year to be no different, and perhaps even more lavish than usual.
Christmas Day itself, I’m claiming as a quiet retreat. There will be music — traditional, ala Chanticleer, and modern, ala Charlie Brown. I plan to connect with my family. And spend the day writing and reflecting on the day, the season, the year, this one and the next.
New Year’s Eve will be bittersweet this year, holding the intensity of our feelings as we release the old and ring in the new. I’ll be looking for the equivalent of a huge bonfire to cast all the dross into. Any ideas? Let me know.
Which brings me to the part of this post where I say, okay, your turn!
What do you celebrate this time of year? And how do you celebrate it? Please post your stories here. We really, really want to know.
And whatever you celebrate, however you celebrate, be well and stay safe!
Marilyn Flower writes political humor and satire to delight socially and spiritually conscious folks. She’s a regular columnist for the prison newsletter, Freedom Anywhere, where she writes about faith and prayer. Five of her short plays have been produced in San Francisco. Clowning and improvisation strengthen her resolve during these crazy times. Stay in touch!