Today is the shortest day and longest night of 2020. It is the heathen New Year, for those who follow the old ways and mere days from Christmas, Kwanza, Ramadan, to mention but a few.
Even in this modern world, most cultures still celebrate the turning of the year, the natural cycles of the sun and the earth and the changing seasons. In good times, these are opportunities to strengthen family and community bonds, to celebrate bounty, and count our blessings. In trying times, our festivals and rituals offer a welcome respite from our troubles. They can be a moment to think back to better times and to be reminded that the wheel will continue to turn, and bring new hope with it.
In our home, decorating for the holidays has always been a cornerstone of our celebrations. Each year, my partner takes charge and organizes the unpacking of our Christmas things, sets up the tree and does 99% of the decorating. She so enjoys the decorating process! And I have always taken great joy in watching her, and in making sure she has a good meal, takes breaks and has plenty of help with any heavy lifting that might be needed.
Two years ago, she was in hospital for the holidays having survived a near death experience mere months before. That year, the tree went up later than usual. I wasn't sure if we'd have one at all, but she was determined to have Christmas, albeit a little late. I erected the tree and it took her days to decorate it, as she was only able to do a little each day. But she was so determined!
Most years, our tree was an exercise in reminiscing, as she handled the ornaments and talked about them. We have pictures of beloved critters who have passed on, ornaments given to us as gifts in previous years, some handmade ornaments, you get the picture. But in 2018, the Christmas tree took on new significance in our home, becoming a symbol of resilience and hope for the future.
This year, my beloved has not been sick or hospitalized. Yes, she still battles with her damaged heart, but she is stronger now and has approached the annual decorating with much of her old gusto. As I watch her trim the tree and hang cards and other decorations around our home, I realize that these are the private rituals that really ground the holidays in my heart. These are the moments that become treasured memories that will stand the test of time.
And as a wise old wizard once said, "...that is a comforting thought."
Wishing you and yours peace, good health, love and joy now and in the year to come.