I forget the advertisement, but I certainly remember the jingle. This old Andy Williams classic has been repurposed by many creative marketing teams in recent years to infuse the air with thoughts of holiday spending and the hustle and bustle of the season. Many people miss out on the wonderful gifts that winter itself brings because of all the distractions – getting lost in the holiday spending frenzy with all its festivities and cheer. This time of the year can be exhausting with year-end closeouts and increased shopping. It can certainly leave us feeling overextended, overworked, over-committed and ringing in the New Year overwhelmed and stressed out.
In spite of it all, I love this time of the year. I am a winter baby (born in January) and I truly understand and appreciate the gifts of the season – the intangible ones, that is. The first day of winter (The Winter Solstice) has over the last several years, marked the beginning of a magical time for me to recalibrate my internal frequencies to be in tune with Mother Nature. Over the years I have learned to mimic nature and move within its natural cycles and seasons. Trusting that Mother Earth knows best, I like to model my life after hers. Many times when I’m feeling the stress of the season, it’s because I’m going against the natural flow. It’s like running up an escalator that is going down. On the other hand, when I’m tuned in and in sync, I relish in all the wonderful gifts this season brings. Ritualizing the beginning of winter (as well as the other three seasons) is a wonderful way that I personally have found to be beneficial in maneuvering through the dark days of winter.
This year, December 21st /22nd, will mark the first day of winter (The Winter Solstice) for those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere. It will mark the longest night and the shortest day of the year – particularly because on that day we will be the furthest from the sun. Each day after that will be a little bit longer and each night a little bit shorter as we make our way to the Summer Solstice (which will be the longest day with the shortest night).
While it isn’t clear just how long people across the planet have been observing and celebrating the Winter Solstice, we do know that ancient cultures created sacred rituals around it, especially during the darkest days. It was a time for reflection and renewal. Our bodies are closely tied to the earth, the sun and the moon, so it just makes sense that ancient cultures would attune their senses to the subtle changes and cycles of the seasons. In this modern, technologically driven, fast-paced society, creating our own seasonal rituals might help us attune more lovingly with the lessons Mother Nature can teach us, bringing us more in harmony with the subtle changes and cycles within ourselves.
Just as the earth is quiet, in the darkness of the night, and is resting as it prepares to bring forth new life in the spring, I too use this season to prepare for the exciting days ahead. As the earth covers itself with a blanket of snow, we will witness the most amazing model of self-care - if we are paying attention.
In the winter Momma Earth closes her kitchen and we’ll just have to wait until the spring to delight in her luscious fruits, succulent flowers and abundant greenery. As she shakes the leaves off her trees, she has no problem shutting it down. She knows that this is the time for her to slow down, rest, dream, reflect and plan for the future. She is the epitome of self-care. She’s resting because she knows that during the other three seasons, she is outwardly giving to everybody and sustaining everything. (Sounds familiar?) This is the designated time for her to rest, rejuvenate and replenish. She would be foolish to not take advantage of this season - which is designed specifically for her self-care. It’s an excellent time for us to do the same.
Use the winter to slow down instead of speed up. Here are just a few ways to make the Winter Solstice and this season work for you:
By creating even simple rituals with personal meaning in observance of winter and the Winter Solstice, can serve as touchstones to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, love, connection and appreciation that can carry you through the holiday season and the dark days ahead, with more grace and ease. It can also be a time when we feed our spirits and nurture our souls.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to continue to take my cues from Momma Earth. I’m slowing my pace, wrapping myself in warm blankets as often as I can, lighting my Winter Solstice candle and pulling out my vision book and dream journals as I rest up in preparation for all the magical moments and wonderful seeds that I will be planting just ahead in the spring. What an amazing gift.
This truly is the most wonderful time of the year.