Every holiday season, whether those occurring in spring, summer, fall or the most boisterous season of all, winter, I am astounded by the buying power of a celebration. As my children were born I began to question the rush and bustle of our cultural traditions and ask, “How can I make each season meaningful and nourishing for myself and my family”. Most of our holiday celebrations revolve around the seasonal shifts of nature, because nature is something that a child can deeply connect with. In winter the nights are growing longer and the days are getting shorter. The deciduous trees stand bare, while the evergreens alone remind us of greener days to come. The beginning of winter coincides with our most widely celebrated holidays, whether Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Solstice. If we are interested in making seasonal celebrations meaningful, personal and nourishing, we can employ an inquisitive lens to our existing holiday celebrations.
I did this a few years ago after a particularly manic holiday. My family celebrates both Hannukah and Christmas, often throwing in a dash of solstice here and there for good measure. A few years ago the frenzy of buying and wrapping, baking and stuffing led to a holiday that vomited gifts with a spasm of “more”. I was horrified. After opening presents for hours, I was spent. I watched my eldest son drunk with presents and asked myself, “Why?”. I realized that I didn’t have a reasonable answer. I spent the next year asking a lot of questions and I came up with a short list of goals that I hoped to achieve through family celebrations. The list included: peace, connection to nature and family, cultivating a sense of magic, etc.
Now, as I meet the winter holidays, I have several new holiday traditions that honor these goals, while incorporating some deeply nourishing family traditions. One important change revolves around my holiday mantra, “simplify”! Children don’t need chaos to experience the magic of the season, nor do we. In simplifying our seasonal celebrations I find peace, connection and a meaningful celebration with my family. In asking ourselves, “why” we do a particular thing or celebrate in a particular way, we begin to clarify our deeper intention and cultivate a seasonal celebration that is personal, meaningful and deeply nourishing for the whole family.