The holidays are filled with activity and bustle. Stormy weather can make our plans at home extra cozy or errands more difficult. Gift buying, wrapping, and giving may have consumed most of our waking hours from the Friday after Thanksgiving right up until Christmas Day. It is in this spirit of happy chaos that we would like to take a moment to celebrate the holiday with you and your family.
There are so many winter celebrations this time of year. Whether you celebrate Christmas, the winter solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or the New Year, there is plenty of joy to keep us engaged and happy during these long winter nights. We’ve often wondered if the evolution of winter holidays was to stave off the depression that comes with cold weather and darkness.
On December 21, the northern hemisphere experienced the winter solstice. Modern calendars classify this as the first day of winter, but that isn’t entirely true. It should really be considered Midwinter as it falls directly between the Fall and Spring equinoxes. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and cultures all over the world honored it by creating festivals aimed toward bringing back the sun. There are several archeological sites, such as Stonehenge and Newgrange that demonstrate the importance of the winter solstice to early agricultural societies. In fact, both structures still work to accurately pinpoint the exact moment of the solstice every year.
Christmas is an important time not only for those who observe it in a strictly religious sense but also for those who cherish Christmas Day as a time to relax and be with family and other loved ones. Many spend weeks planning their celebrations and dinners on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, only to wake up on the 26th and wonder where it all went.
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” – Calvin Coolidge
This Christmas, make it a point to consciously slow down and enjoy every minute of the holiday. Contrary to what Black Friday circulars and advertisements that run unceasingly from November 1st to December 24th at midnight might say, Christmas is not about how much money you have or how many toys you can cram under your impeccably trimmed 12-foot tree.
Christmas is a time to celebrate the traditions in your family. Maybe it’s the hand-made ornaments that you lovingly unpack to trim the tree you tramp through the hills to cut down. Maybe it’s a small, table-top tree that is simple with lights and a star.
Or, maybe it is a special advent calendar filled with treats leading up to Christmas Day, or a special hot chocolate recipe, handed down from grandparent to parent to child.
Maybe it is the ritual of midnight mass, spilling out afterwards into the quiet early morning hours of Christmas Day and into bed for a few precious hours of sleep before breakfast and presents.
Maybe your family opens one gift of pajamas on Christmas Eve and then leisurely opens the rest after breakfast on Christmas Day. Or maybe everyone wakes up before the birds and races down the stairs to open gifts that follow a simpler formula: “something you want; something you need; and something to wear; something to read.”
Maybe this year is the first year a cherished friend or family member will not be with you, making the time bittersweet and tinged with sadness. Or maybe you welcomed a new little one into your home and heart, beginning a new set of traditions.
However you and your family choose to celebrate Christmas, take your time and savor every moment: the beautiful, heartwarming times, and even those inevitable family disagreements that may arise. These are all threads of the great tapestry of your life, woven throughout the years as you and your family come together. Your family, both the one you are born into and the one you choose for yourself in the form of friends, is what makes the holiday and the traditions surrounding it uniquely yours. You may have Christmas traditions dating back many generations, or this may be the first year you start building your new family’s holiday from scratch.
Whatever Christmas means to you, from our families to yours, we want to wish you a very merry Christmas, filled with love, light, and laughter. Thank you for being a part of our tradition and allowing us to be a part of yours!
If it’s Hanukkah or Kwanzaa
Solstice Harvest or December Twenty-fifth
Peace on earth to everyone
And abundance to everyone you’re with
–Blues Traveler “Christmas”
It is our sincerest wish that all people celebrate this holiday season with love, peace, and joy. May you have a beautiful celebration with your family or friends. Our hope for everyone is to find a healthy balance and be free from chronic pain.