Newsflash: It’s Winter.
Some will argue that this is not the case.
They will point to the calendar on the wall that says the Solstice is the first day of winter, usually on December 21.
This makes no sense.
The day where the light is the least of all days, followed by days of more light is not the dawn of winter. It’s the midpoint – a gentle nod to the teeny tiny glimmer of a Spring yet to come. Winter begins with the descent into darkness. It waxes, then wanes, much like the crescent moon to the full moon and back. The natural cycles and their cues point to the retracting of energy, the cold, the lack of blooms on the trees, the desire to stay in and be warm, to eat warm and fattier foods. This time of year cultivates reflection and restoration. Are you sleeping longer? Retiring earlier? Are you being wise, or other-wise? Squandering or preserving your resources – your energy, your money? Are you slowing down and surrendering to stillness, to deep listening (to yourself or others). Does this resonate?
Most important, are you resisting the natural rhythms of this time of year? Resisting might come in the form of being distracted by the impending holidays, spending energy and money in a way that feels depleting. This time of year could be a great practice and cultivation of the ancient wisdom of the virtues of winter (see above). There is a lot of imbalance in December, perhaps unnoticed, because with January comes the comments of how spent we now feel, and even glad that the holidays are over. Do you create the holidays as bah-humbug? Or do you use the time to practice happiness, an intentional exercise of “I’m going to choose feel good regardless of my circumstance.” I read that genuine version of this feeling – one of connection and intentional happiness – is called “hygge” in Scandinavian cultures. Scandinavians are some of the happiest people in the world according to the Gross National Happiness (GNH) index. So why is this “hygge” not the foundation of our culture, community, neighborhood and family? Maybe it is for you, and if it is, I’d like to hear from you.
Confession: Christmas isn’t my thing. It’s not a holiday I look forward to. I don’t delight when the Christmas decor starts to surface just after Halloween. My mood is further instituted by some relations who have adopted this less than enthusiastic view. They are not to blame for my pessimistic attitude as I’ve created my own flavor of bah humbug. My new family, in fact, LOVES this time of year. I imagined over the year that I’d soften, that anticipation would develop and root and I would blossom into the epitome of sunshine and good cheer as the holiday approached. Instead, I am more aware (as are they) of the sardonic commentary that rolls around inside my head. I am biting my tongue but wearing my disdain. I am wishing for my year-long Scandinavian holiday.
Reality Check: But, here it is. It’s about three weeks and a bit until December 25. My inner critic is at the ready to make disparaging statements about the season, especially when I observe the lowest form of expression of the holidays. It used to be the waste, the environmental and social disasters that were amplified due to our excess spending on useless consumer goods. Now, though, I’ve pared my distaste to the “useless goods”. This attitude of mine no fun for anyone in my wake, and honestly, this seasonal promotion doesn’t exactly make me happy either. Since reading about hygge, I realize what bothers me is that there is no staying power of the love-fest that happens leading up to, and surrounding Christmas. From this perspective, I have broad-brushed the entire holiday season as a sham (unless you are non-secular and know the deeper meaning and stories of the origins of the celebration). Those who know me know that I look for substance. Everywhere. From shopping at grocery stores to all my cherished relationships. It’s difficult for me to be superficial, and this weighty presence is something that I’m aware of. It’s not what I’d call…light-hearted.
Newsflash: I am the creator of my reality. As of this writing, and ONLY because I took the time through writing to sort this out (thanks for sticking with me!) I’m willingly, intentionally, investigating ways to use the gifts of Winter as the foundation to celebrate this time of year. This will take practice. A lot of practice. I can easily and mindlessly slip into being a Holiday Hater. Alas, like anything else I am in the practice of transforming, the meaning of the holiday (as in life) is what I make of it. I am taking my own medicine.
So there you have it: the antidote to my curmudgeonly attitude. I will use and cultivate the gifts of Winter. I will slow down, reflect, listen, and REALLY apply these to the holiday. Perhaps if you are a Holiday Hater (HH), or even a Winter Hater (WH), this could transform your experience, too.