I have been planning our winter celebrations over the past few months and almost have everything together. I try to weave together a number of celebrations over time and space to tell an integrated story that focuses on the joint themes and explores why these common themes might persist over time. As I previously noted, this in part reflects my desire to extend the focus beyond just Christmas with all its personal bad memories, but also as a means to sensitive my children to the reality that not everyone has the same holidays. It also has been beneficial with a child like Sophie who may at any one moment not be able to do something (so many Birthday/Christmas eve tears) and reduce the pressure for any one event to be perfect -Hanukah is great as there is at least one good dinner in the eight nights.
This year I have added a count down to solstice. In each of the weeks we will look at a particular natural element, thus recognizing and including all our relations in our solstice celebration. We will take time during the week to think about that element, learn it's name in Cree and if time permits to build a ceremony around the element. I have also tried to collect some appropriate crafts for each one, but that is a nice to do at this point. I will post in more detail on each of the weeks.
The point of all this is really to be together as a family and to try and live out that winter part of the circle, being together, contemplating where we have been, planning where we are going and connecting to the ancestors. In good years we get together most nights to sing and read a story around our greens. Sometimes, life gets crazy and that doesn't happen. I try not to have this be something that stresses me out. I am trying to add to our lives, not take anything away.
So over the coming few weeks I will share more about our traditions for this period and I would love to hear any that you have. I started this process a few years ago drawing heavily from the Celtic traditions and I am working to add in more indigenous elements. Like life, it is a work in progress.