Hovering over 40 (in about 6 weeks!) and reflecting on all the changes in our lives this year, had Erik and I really evaluating in more spiritual depth how we wanted to celebrate the holidays. When we met, he was not a fan of Christmas. As a single, thirty something man with no children, the time of the year was just a frustration to him. I entered his life with a great love for the season and he began to see things in a much different light – and honestly so did I. While I lived in a Waldorf bubble 99% of the time, my older children were still visiting their birth father at the time and our holiday values were night and day apart. I honor and yearn for the simple and he loves to make it all Santamas. It caused some frustration during those years as I was striving to help the children understand it all on their own.
As the older three children got older and Erik and I focused on what we wanted for Sam (and later Sariah) new traditions began to form. This year really saw the culmination of what we are intending to walk forward with from here on. Together it has meant less presents and more focus on faith traditions of this time and service. I decided that obligatory gift giving was something that had me a little frustrated about the season. I LOVE giving gifts. But I love giving them ALL year long. I decided there would be no more gifts that meant nothing to me – no more gifts for the sake of buying a gift. This year that proved to be a task since I made this decision in November! I also decided to just do what comes natural to me and give gifts that I find when I find them. No more “Oh, I will wait until Christmas,” on gifts for my mom or those outside my family.
We decided that we would split up our gift giving more too. Saint Nicholas has always been our big day so we have continued that and will continue to find ways to spiritually enjoy the day and also become Saint Nicholas for others. My personal goal is to be able to financially contribute to the missionary fund in our church, much like Saint Nicholas gave to the dowries for young women in his village. That takes care of a focus for week one. Week two, with the celebration of Santa Lucia and her gifts of service to others, we spend a lot of time that week helping others in our church and our community. We helped a couple widows with holiday decorating and sang carols to them. We helped those in our community more heavier items they couldn’t on their own. Next year we will have an even broader family focus – Erik is on it, he will find us more service opportunities. Week three was very special for us. For years we have wanted to take a family trip together during the holidays. This year it was possible. This was my gift and Erik’s to each other. It has allowed us to come home refreshed and able to focus on this week, week four. This week is all about family – both blood relations and those that we have adopted in our co-housing community. Spending time together has been such a blessing for our children and for us.
Tonight we will open the last of our gifts to each other. Tomorrow Grandma will visit early in the morning and we will exchange gifts with her and then we will bake a very special birthday cake for our Savior. This year I believe it will be chocolate peanut butter. I can’t wait.
I chronicle our new traditions to encourage you to find ones that work for you and to give you bit of permission (if you needed it! LOL) to change what doesn’t work, to deepen your connection to the season and to the Spirit. Every child can become a green eyed monster this time of the year, no matter how hard we try, but changing how we approach things is so helpful. It doesn’t have to be all handmade unless you can make it that way without killing yourself, but it should ALL have meaning – if it doesn’t then don’t do it. If you can’t connect with what you are doing then your children won’t either. So here, on this last day before Christmas, stand back and evaluate what worked this season and what didn’t. What did you LOVE and what could you do without? Did it become all about blogging what you got finished or was the process more important? Now is the time to plan for next year, while the feelings and emotions are still fresh.
NOW… MY OWN INNER CHRISTMAS
There is a lot going through Steiner/Waldorf circles this time of the year regarding inner Christmas. The 12 Holy Nights and other bits of inner work. With our personal changes this year, I decided to make some inner Christmas changes too. I generally spend these 12 night meditating on the past year and planning for the new one – that part won’t change, my method though will. I love the book Start Now! by Steiner, edited by Christopher Bamford. There are some great passages in there that I will pull from. We had a fantastic Advent/Solstice spiral this year in a wooden area on our community property. I can see the space from my window now and still feel that energy. It was amazing. As I look out the window now, rain falls, no snow yet this year, the rain has kept the ground green while the trees have no leaves. It is such a stark contrast. These things fuel my current ponderings.
This morning I came across this from Steiner, pg. 163:
“Through the course of the year summer’s power of growth is exchanged for winter’s earthly peace. In the course of human life the power of waking is exchanged for sleep’s peaceful presence. In both sleeping and waking, the spirit-filled soul lives on. Thus, the Earth’s soul lives on spiritually through the exchange of summer and winter.”
I first thought of all the talk I give on sleep and how important it is. Our Earth ~ Gaia ~ she knows when to sleep. She listens to her inner movement. She teaches us – if we are ready to listen to our own inner movement.
Today I will take this to my pondering for Christmas Eve, pg. 163-164:
“The Earth’s soul sleeps
in summer’s time of heat.
The Sun’s image
in external space.
The Earth’s soul wakes
in winter’s time of cold.
The true Sun
In inner being.
Summer’s joyful day
Is Earth’s sleep.
Winter’s initiation night
Is Earth’s day.
These words can feel cryptic if you are new to Steiner’s work. If you don’t connect with it, then perhaps the story of Christ’s birth or the Menorah or for my Pagan friends, even a focus just on Gaia and her changes as Steiner suggests. There are many places to place our pondering – this is NOT a Christian only time of inner work.
Much of Steiner’s work for Christmas is very much geared toward the Northern Hemisphere – but that doesn’t mean it can’t be flipped. Michael Hedley Burton wrote a great Calendar of the Soul version that has a great Southern Hemisphere translation. His is called “In the Light of a Child” and his verse for those in the south goes like this for the third week in December:
“When I look out into the world, I see
Such wondrous beauty bursting forth in each direction.
When in my heart I look, I feel in me
How Nature’s beauty here must find it’s true reflection.
For when my heart expands and grows aright,
When, on the wings of beauty, to the farthest realms of space I’m taken
Then is my own self lost within the light,
In quiet joy at last within the arms of God to waken.”
Even if you are not resonating with any of the Inner Christmas ideas you are finding here or on the web, go within – decide what this time can mean for you. I tend to reflect on the season, the changes in the earth, the changes within me, what I have done well this year, what I would have done a bit better. I let go of the bad – or really my perception of the bad because it is all a journey of learning – and I connect with my higher place. How can I take the best parts of me and magnify them? Then I listen. When I am quiet, then the still, small voice can penetrate my thoughts, my dreams, my meditations and my ponderings.
I wish you peace and love.