Monday, December 22, 2008

Yule 2008

I've been writing posts in my head all month, and am somewhat surprised that none of them have made it online. Sorry about that! I didn't mean to take a hiatus, but I guess I did.

I had planned to write a post today about how I broke out of my holiday funk by attending a beautiful solstice ritual. It was going to be a stirring post about the power of hope, the beauty of community, and the peace of freshly fallen snow. Alas, that is not what happened, and thus I can not write that post.

I had intended to attend a ritual at sunrise Solstice morning, in which we would sing the sun up, dance a spiral dance, set intentions for the coming year, and generally have a meaningful solstice morning. In order to do this, I got out of bed at 4am, got dressed, and dragged myself out to the bus stop to catch a 5am bus. When I arrived, I checked the posted bus schedule to make sure that I was on time. With my heart in the stomach, I saw that while there is a 5am bus Monday through Saturday, on Sunday the bus doesn't start running until 6:50. The ritual started at 6:30, and I had no other way to get there. I stood at the bus stop until 5:30, just in case that schedule had been superceded and no one had bothered to change the posting, but of course that wasn't the case. At 5:30 I turned around and trudged back home.

When I got home, my husband (an absolute sweetheart) offered to hike out with me to watch the sunrise at a nearby golf course. So we went out, but of course with all the snow we were having the sky was a solid cloud cover, gray and oppressive, and there was no sunrise. The best we could hope for was a steady lightening of the gloom. I tried to feel spiritual about the experience, but it just wasn't working.

I very much regret not having gotten the release of a good solstice ritual. This is normally one of the holidays I really enjoy, but I feel just as blah and drab today as I did on Saturday. The fact that today is sunny, and the world is beautiful in it's blanket of snow does nothing to alleviate that feeling. I wish that Yule fell after the holiday season ended, so that I didn't have the weight of holiday prep bearing down on me as I try to celebrate the newborn light. Maybe I can fix that. The solstice may be an astronomical event taking place on 12/21, and I did take note of that by getting up early to watch it (or try to do so), but who says that Yule has to be celebrated on that exact same day? I could have a "real" Yule celebration after all of the family obligations are over! Perhaps I will do just that.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yule stresses

I may love the yuletide season, but that doesn't mean it isn't stressful. In my enthusiasm for the season (and my new unemployment) I have taken on nearly a dozen different craft projects, including making all of my own holiday cards. Any of these projects would be fun and rewarding on its own, but together they form an incredibly daunting prospect. And I swear that I've found a new project to try every day this month! Today it was making surprise balls using crepe paper to put into stockings. Yesterday I was going to make a mom a brand new stocking (her current one is looking a bit ragged). I need to stop. I need to at least finish one or two of my current projects before taking on anymore! But it's difficult. There's so much pressure to make the "perfect" holiday, especially if you are hosting. And we haven't even figured out what we're making for Yule dinner yet!

Another source of stress is, of course, the gift giving aspect of the season. I enjoy the gift exchange -- the way it bonds giver and givee in the cycle of generousity and gratitude, the fun of finding just the right gift -- it's stressful, but in a good way. Or it could be. My husband and I are still fighting a losing battle with our families regarding how many gifts to exchange. We both very much want to cut down to exchanging one, maybe two gifts per person, but our respective parents are less than keen on the idea. And while I appreciate that they mean well, I do find both the failure to respect our wishes and the rampant materialism to be an unnecessary source of holiday stress.

Attending a beautiful Yule ritual last night helped me to get back in touch with the heart of the season -- the turning of the wheel, community, relationships, embracing the dark as balance to the light -- but I'm still feeling frazzled. I need to figure out what I need to do to take care of myself and get back into the Yuletide spirit.