Creating Holiday Rituals that Nourish
The end of year can be so tricky to navigate.
And I know I’m not alone in observing this. Obligation, unrealistic expectations, clashes of values and needs, it can all seem too hard. It doesn’t need to be this way though.
In my ongoing sorting and repacking of my storage unit, I found a photo of my sister and I somewhere around 1995. It’s a hilarious photo because for some reason we felt the need to kneel down beside my big kitchen table next the spread of food we had prepared. It’s this weird but festive photo with our almost disembodied heads next to plates of food! Let me remind you that there was no digital photography at this point!
I wish I had’ve taken a photo of it before packing it back away. This photo reminded me that for a number of years while we were still living in the same country we would celebrate our ‘Holiday Festival’ on the Solstice on the 21st Dec. This is when we gave each other presents and shared the highlight real of our year and our wishes for the next. *
This felt meaningful and connected as I didn’t align with the commercialism of the season (I still don’t) or the Christian one on offer. I made up my own rituals, borrowed a few from my pagan leanings to honor the summer season and I was on my way! Just add people I love, great food and music. In our childhood my sister played ‘The Muppets Christmas Album’ version of the 12 days of Xmas so much that regardless of whether we are together I hear Miss Piggy screeching 5 Golden Rings until the 2nd of Jan.
*(This was also a time in my life when I left a slice of birthday cake out for the ‘elementals’. True stories. Now I just eat all the cake myself! I figure I’m an elemental too!)
As the years have passed and my baby brother and sister were born, I adored celebrating with them. Their excitement at the Xmas tree, all squishing into the same bed as they couldn’t agree with who was going to sleep in the big bed with their sister! There was even Mass in the melting North Queensland heat with my quasi Catholic parents. I found my feminist alignment with this by ‘hanging out with Mary’ and feeling into the genuine reverence present. Which was undeniable.
My ex-husband was a huge xmas fan. The decorations were epic, the carols continuous and I’m ok with never having to clean up that much tinsel again! The holiday season in the norther hemisphere it has to be said feels so much more authentic to me. At that time of year it can be really nourishing to celebrate and raise your spirits. The gift of a white winter solstice is something I enjoyed so much.
My siblings are now 20 and 22 but my nieces have since been born and I have once again loved creating rituals with them and my sister. No longer two disembodied heads at a table but trying to keep the presents a secret and grab a minute of quiet time together.
This year I find myself at another ritual crossroads. My younger siblings are all grown up, my sister and my nieces living overseas and my parents having parties with friends of their own. (That of course I could join).
I am finding myself leaning toward the ways I naturally love to celebrate and looking forward to creating space in my life for these thing for the first time in a long time. Simple, natural and homespun fun. And honestly while I don’t want to make a huge deal about this one day, after an enormous year I do want to soak up the spaciousness of having a week off and connect with my loves in a way that feels meaningful and not contrived.
I’m feeling into what 23 year old Keri would want to do because whilst we often search into the future to see what our older wiser self might think, there is wisdom to be found in the simple honestly of our younger selves too.
I want you to know that if the season ahead is hard for you, that you can create your own meaningful rituals.
Some ideas you could play with are;
Volunteer for your local charity.
Celebrate an ‘orphans xmas’ with your besties.
Even solo, create and plan ahead for a beautiful day; food, candles, activities that you love doing.
A day in a hammock with a book sounds just divine to me, or curled up by the fire if your Xmas is a chilly one. Making a big gratitude list of all the things you’re thankful for this year is a heart lead way to keep your focus on all that is abundant in your life.
Some other resources you might find helpful-
You can reflect and unravel your year with my Alchemical Year Play book
Alexandra Franzen has this ritual here I think I might try.
And my gorgeous friend Kris has these cards that inspire wonderful connection between people, pop them out if you’re in a group of people that might not know each other well.
I’d love to hear how your approaching the holiday season.
What spiritual practices or festivities do you align with?
And know too that if you’re really struggling don’t go it alone, there are support services you can connect with.
It needs to be included that as I’m writing this my neighbours child has launched into a sing- a -long version of Jingle Bells on the keyboard. It’s official. The seasons is ON!