We play board games. Tonite was Scrabble night.
The Old Man is wicked good at Scrabble.
and the winning board ….
It was a nice way to pass the time. Quiet and removed from the outside world that is currently in the final throes of Christmas frenzy. It’s like the real world is in some kind of stasis until the insanity passes. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. December becomes a lost month. There is nowhere to hide from the bombardment of commericals, songs, entreaties to BUY MY STUFF. The traffic is terrible. Supermarkets are mobbed. People get pretty shitty with one another because of the pressure to BUY THAT STUFF and do all the things that the Christmas script demands or …. else? I just want the world to get back on track. Only 2 more days of madness.
As if signaling that the Sun is indeed on his return run, the weather for Solstice was warm and sunny in a region where at this time of year there should be cold and snow. I BATHED in the sunshine. I frequently wonder why I live in this region at all because I love warmth. Probably from all those happy years living in southern Nevada.
A view of my Solstice:
Bayberry Candles from Mole Hollow Candles in Sturbridge, MA. Hand dipped. Not overly fragrant. They burn beautifully, evenly, and do not drip all over the place.
The silver candlesticks have been in my husband’s family for some time. They have seen much service for all sorts of holiday and family gatherings. Now they serve our household.
The Solstice altar. My personal tastes run to restraint. Decorative stags handmade by the woodworking husband, holly of various varieties, fir and twigs. I also add some rosemary and a golden pear.
I always love decorating the tree. So many symbols that we love.
A lovely night. Vale!
I have so many thoughts on this and I just want to try and write them down.
First. I am not a Christian. There is no one in my household who is a Christian. I am a pagan. A witch, thanks very much. This is no secret in my workplace. It’s not like I walked in and said, “HEY I’M A PAGAN”. But one day in conversation that fact was made plain. (Which should not have been a surprise considering I have worn jewelry with pagan symbols for 6 years. Just sayin’.) Although I do believe it is easier for folks who are uncomfortable with that fact to ignore the obvious until it is plainly stated.
More background. I work in an environment that is ….. difficult. There are issues with race, gender, educational level, and socio-economic class in an unnaturally forced blue collar-white collar environment. Add in the very potent brew of religious difference, overlay it with the seemingly outsized importance of the Christmas holiday and it is a formula for great unease. To be fair, on both parts. Mine and theirs. The situation is not helped by the holiday parties, holiday cards, and holiday wishes from the institution where we all labor. I do understand that large institutions must appear to be ecumenical whether there is a genuine interest or not. It’s just good business. It costs nothing and avoids problems. And I do believe at my place of employment on the macro level that the sentiment is genuine. On the micro level it is just a mess.
Here are my thoughts on this. I really do not want to be lumped in as an afterthought on the ‘holidays’. I actually find it offensive. On this I share common ground with the Christmas crowd. Conflating Yule/Solstice, Hanukkah, or any other Winter holiday with Christmas is not cool. Our traditions and beliefs are not some diminutive form of Christmas that must be grudgingly included in the seasonal festivities. They are rich and special in their own right. And they pre-date the Christmas holiday by millenium. There is a grand irony that the last folk to join in the Winter festivities are the ones viewing all those who came before as the usurpers. BTW, I’ll just mention that I have no hard feelings that you are using pagan traditions and symbols when you celebrate. Okay?
To the war on Christmas office contingent wishing anyone “Happy Holidays” is offensive. Every year I hear about the war on Christmas, the faux meaning of other religious and cultural experiences, and how it’s Christmas, dammit. Without fail at some point when the holiday ‘spirit’ is in high dudgeon I am asked if I am ready for Christmas. And each year I answer, no, I’m not ready for Christmas because I don’t celebrate Christmas. I’m not sure how to interpret that. At best I could say that it is well meaning but indecipherably ignorant. At worst it is intentional baiting.
I actually find it sad for the war on Christmas crowd at my workplace. To be nursing such a grievance and feeling so under seige when you are in the majority doesn’t make any sense to me especially when you celebrate a season that has as one of its basic tenets ‘good will towards men’.
photo credit for Hannukah menorah: dirtydog2003 via photopin cc
From Dr. Charles Raison at CNN:
When the holidays bring heartache instead of joy, I think they do so because they stand as an unforgiving yardstick against which we measure our losses and troubles.
If no one reminds us, we can sometimes overlook the fact that loved ones are gone, or that our lives are filled with painful conflict in exactly the intimate areas that should be sources of strength and comfort for us. But then along come the holidays, imposing upon us once again a template for what happiness and interpersonal success is expected to look like.
It can be hard to measure up. It is far easier to overlook the death of loved ones when you don’t have to stare across the holiday table at their empty places. It is far easier to pretend that family trauma or conflict don’t exist when you are far away and on your own.
But the holidays force us to either return to painful family interactions or to fully own our isolation and spend the season alone.
It is a terrible choice. I’ve treated many patients over the years who reliably became depressed during the holidays out of dread of having to interact with their families. On the other hand, the silence of Christmas morning on one’s own carries its own unique pain.
I never cease to be amazed at how often both emotional well-being and mental illness hinge on how we negotiate these types of impossible choices. Because the choices really are often insoluble and the losses are often so actual …..
Really a quiet holiday break. Sickness for everyone! Sickness all ’round! *blerg* Plus the snow. Sorta screwed up lots of plans but still! No work! JOY!
And cool Yule presents. Including a vasculum from Giordano Tinsmiths. Yes, this is how far my historical geekery goes. VASCULUM.
A few photos …..
My Lord of the Rings ornament.