…the fire is burning…

…the fire is burning
the long night draws near
all who need comfort
are welcome by here…

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The girls and I spent this evening building snowball lanterns in preparation for Solstice on December 21st

…we’ll dance ‘neath the stars
and toast the past year
for the spirit of solstice
is still living here…

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The fire pit now has outdoor lighting. We’ll be dusting off the log stumps for friends to gather round the bonfire to hold back the night.

…we’ll count all our blessings
while the Mother lays down
with snow as her blanket
covering the ground…

We are fortunate enough to have a gorgeous yew tree in the backyard. We'll be decorating this living tree with popcorn strings, pine cone bird feeders and apple ornaments as gifts to our animal friends.

We are fortunate enough to have a gorgeous yew tree in the backyard. We’ll be decorating this living tree with popcorn strings, pine cone bird feeders and apple ornaments as gifts to our animal friends.

…thanks to the Mother
for the life that she brings
she’ll waken to warm us
again in the spring

the poor and the hungry
the sick and the lost
these are our children
no matter the cost…

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Every year we make lanterns. This year it is snowball lanterns to line our walk way and welcome our guests. In years past we’ve used glass jars hung from sticks with wire to take with us on our lantern walk.  This year we’ll take apple candle holders with us while we go carolling.

 

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Our decorations are all taken from nature. The snow lanterns require only a tea light and the right kind of snow. We’ve brought fresh greenery, birch bark and berries indoors to decorate our table and mantle.

…come by the fire
the harvest to share

for the spirit of solstice
is still living there

the fire is burning
the long night draws near
all who need comfort
are welcome by here…

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Part of the fun of planning which crafts we’ll do and how we’ll decorate is watching the girls add their own bit of magic to our celebration. Our connections are strengthened to the earth and in our community. I love how the girls look forward to Solstice as part of our holiday celebrations.

…we’ll dance ‘neath the stars
and toast the past year

for the spirit of solstice
is still living here
for the spirit of solstice
is still living here…


~ Lyrics to “A Solstice Carole” by the Wyrd Sisters

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Yuletide Greetings!

The word “solstice” comes from the Latin sol, meaning sun, and sistere, meaning to stand. At Solstice the sun appears to stand still, to pause, before continuing on its path.  We’ve been celebrating Solstice as a family for over a decade.  No matter where we have found ourselves over years, on a tropical island, out west, up north, in the city or in the forest, no matter what has been happening in our lives, this time of year reminds us to pause, and to reflect.  Our celebrations have been simple (especially when it was just the two of us) and some have  been elaborate gatherings full of family and friends.  Decorations are natural and are designed to end up in the compost heap rather than in storage or the landfill.  The greenery reminding us of the coming spring.  The candles reminding us of the returning light.

When we first started celebrating Solstice we were met with many questions and confused looks and some people were even dismissive.  It was a little isolating.  And so starting nine years ago we began sending out what we called our “Cool Yule Cards”.  They were conversation starters for sure, just look at our first one:

cool yule photo 1Yes, I put a dress on my dog.  Mad Men was not a show back then either…we were just before our time I suppose : ).

banjo bellyIn the beginning we always tried to inject a little bit of humour to try to keep it light-hearted.

coolyuledoorThis is one of my favourites…Sostice in the forest with a wood stove inside…so dreamy.

coolyuleThis one did look more “Christmas-y” but Cool Yule wishes remained the same…

Grandma cool yuleI think last year’s card was my favourite so far.  Such a great vintage photo of J’s great-grandmother!

Our 2013 Cool Yule greeting card will be revealed to family and friends tomorrow (that is if I can get a great shot of the girls on their lantern walk).  Today, I’m wrapping our handmade solstice gifts to put under the tree and finishing up the preparations for our Annual Solstice Party.  Back by popular demand will be our lantern walk which the children loved a few years ago.  After dinner we make our lanterns and set off to carol our way through the neighbourhood.  If it is not raining we will gather around the bonfire outside to sing, drink and generally be merry and, if we remember, we mark the actual moment of Solstice.   Tomorrow we’ll open our gifts, make pine cone bird feeders and decorated our outdoor tree for our animal friends.  And as always we are busy reading our favourite winter and Solstice books.

I mentioned our celebrations to a neighbour a few weeks ago and they commented that more and more people seemed to be celebrating solstice.  I’m so glad to hear it.  Solstice also means “turning point”.  Our world could use a reminder to pause and slow down, a reminder that light follows darkness, and to reestablish a relationship with Mother Earth.

This morning we woke up to find a soft blanket of snow covering the ground.  The girls rushed to the windows and squealed with delight.  Mrs. Iverson declared that it was Solstice magic that made it happen.  I think the smile on this proud mama’s face should last all day…

Wishing you all a Cool Yule, peace and joy for the New Year!