Traditionally the midwinter festivals were a time of joyous celebration and connection with family, friends and community as the year’s work was mostly complete, the days were short and the nights long. Following the winter solstice the days would begin to lengthen again, bringing back the light and newness to the world. Still today, it is a period when people generally have holidays and spend time with their loved ones. It is a time of relaxation, connection and celebration.
Christmas and the midwinter (northern hemisphere) is a serene time of magic and wonder. It is a time of hibernation and inner contemplation. Yet for many, it has been overtaken by the Matrix and its expectations. For some Christmas appears to hijack their lives for the entire month of December and beyond? It becomes a source of stress rather than a time to relax, unwind, rest and even heal.
Last week my hairdresser bouyantly informed me that her spare room was full chock-a-block with gifts, while someone else spoke of not wanting to go to family for Christmas, but feeling obliged. My friend has a three year old boy and wants to avoid consumerism and encourage him to find the joy, gratitude and creativity of the midwinter festival, yet everywhere he goes folk ask him what he is getting from Santa.
I appreciate that all of these things — gifts, seeing family and Santa are well intentioned — though I find myself asking where has the authenticity and the true meaning of Christmas gone? How can we balance our own rightness with the expectations of society at this or any other time of year? What about living true to ourselves and not compromising our souls?
Perhaps a place to start is by offering gifts as a genuine heartfelt token of our appreciation for another, rather than because it is expected. I love to make homemade cards; as I create them I feel gratitude and fondly think of those to whom I will send them, it builds positive energy. I love to sing and Christmas carols are so joyous and familiar, they lift my heart.
How can you engage in the festive season with joy and authenticity? What inspires your soul? What gift can you give yourself?
What Do You Want for Christmas?
I want to see the truth and beauty, love and inspiration that is all around and inside of me. I yearn to live from my soul moment to moment, greeting each joy and challenge with the fullness of my being. In the depths of winter, I want to find the light through and beyond the darkness. And it’s not exclusive to midwinter either, it’s my gift for the whole year through!
This touching video beautifully shows children expressing what they truly want for Christmas: love, connection and time with their parents, above any other gift! Seven year old Bobby captured the deeper meaning of Christmas wonderfully when he said “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas, if you stop opening presents and listen”. (BTW, you may need to have tissues close at hand…)
IKEA The Other Letter
May you find and express your heart's desire and your soul's longing this midwinter solstice period, in whatever way is right for you. May you be full with love, joy and inspiration this festive season and into the new year.
About the Author:
Fiona is an Openhand Facilitator and house manager at Avalon Rising (Openhand’s Retreat Centre in Glastonbury). She is also a reflexologist and experienced doula. She is passionate about living true to her heart and soul and empowering others to do the same.
You can connect with Fiona on Facebook, or learn more about her work through her website, www.fionareilly.co.uk (where this article first appeared).