Thursday, December 29, 2005

A tale of revelry


The Christmas holidays are quickly slipping by. In attempts to slow times'
hasty passing, I figured I ought to fill you in on those things that have transpired over the past week.

I am sitting back in smug satisfaction that this year I choreographed the perfect Christmas. The children received nothing that honked, beeped, tooted, choo-chooed, squeaked, squalked, rumbled, groaned, banged, moaned or popped. Nothing required assembly or batteries, and nor were there so many gifts that the livingroom resembled the toy department at Walmart. This was very important to me, and so pleased I was in its fufilment. The tradeoff are the tinkertoys and lego undefoot. There is also that matter of a Thomas engine which has gone into hiding since the 26th. Otherwise, the kids had a blast, and I did not use my credit card. Well done Heather, well done.

I also initiated the first ever family Solstice celebration. I am interested in incorportating this into the traditional Santa Claus mythology, since Solstice is so important to so many cultures past and present. Instead of adopting another celebration, I decided to create something simple and try and celebrate it again next year. This bit of ritualization has added some meaning to this time of the year, and in fact, my experiment was a rousing success. My plan for the 21st, was only one thing - to not use electricity for the evening. My plan was to turn off the lights, TV, radio, computer throughout the house and light candles. I thought that if this could be accomplished for an hour, then that would be Solstice 2005.

I finished cooking supper and Eric and I went about setting the table, lighting candles and turning off lights. We had supper by candlelight. All except for that damn GameBoy. Next year, I will make sure to put that away. After supper, we just naturally seemed to gather in the livingroom. Without all the lights on, the natural tendency for the kids to revel in hyperactive merriment in every corner of the house was temporarily subdued. We read some stories, and then I started a story..."Once upon a time there was a snowman...". Everyone had a turn telling the story. The kids were utterly entranced and completely engaged in the story. I was somewhat expecting the snowman to meet his fate in excrement and death. The snowman was given a cup of hot chocolate and melted. Santa was able to transform the snowman into a silver fox and ran into the woods. He did meet his fate with a moose. Despite the tragic tales, the kids had an amazing time. After the story, I made some hot chocolate. And, if there was a way to make hot chocolate without electricity, I would have. I did make it by candlelight however.
In my planning, I had no idea that our solstice celebration would be about the family. I shall plan for candlelight and storytelling next year.

Tomorrow we are heading out for Montreal to visit Eric's family. Eight hours in the van will be enough family time I can muster. I will bring my copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell, a whack of movies and perhaps some valium. For the kids.


MC Etcher said...

Wow, very cool! I'll have to steal these ideas and graft them into our tradition-less Christmas.

Well, we do have one tradition - we eat corned beef and mashed potatoes on Christmas, and that's the only one I can think of...

Beth said...

well done, heather! the perfect christmas/solstice celebration in my opinion.

robmcj said...

Heather - when I was a Scot in a men's group, we sometimes went into the hills behind Milngavie at the equinox, and improvised a ritual evening, with a bonfire and setting fire to symbolic things we wanted to farewell. A couple of people recited poetry, I of course played the uke. We danced. All a bit embarrassing to recall now, but I salute your success in creating something personal.

Eric - will you please post a report on the white beer when you get there? I'm stuck in a roasting beachside shack (over 40 degrees Celsius), and I drank the whole week's beer ration on the first day, so it's only vicarious drinking for me.

Happy New Year to you both.

PS - there's a nice easy New Year's tag for you here.

Mary P. said...

My plan for solstice was to stay up till midnight, and then play "Here Comes the Sun" while I sipped something fortifying. That was my plan.

The reality was me alternately shivering and coughing under the covers. Christmas 'flu, anyone?

Ah, well. Next year!

Happy New Year!