Going Inside for the Winter Holidays

Welcome to the November 2012 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Gratitude and Traditions

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about gratitude and traditions by sharing what they are grateful for, how they share gratitude with their children, or about traditions they have with their families. The Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival will be taking a break in December, but we hope you will join us for the great line up of themes we have for 2013!

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welcome new lightWinter abounds with holidays – days to cheer us up during the dark and gloomy days of shortened daylight and colder temperatures and less available food. For our family, the holiday season has us going inside, not just physically to avoid the color but also mentally, or you could say spiritually, as we examine where we are in our lives and where we want to be.

For us Halcyon, a time of quiet reflection and resolution, encompasses the holiday season. With the advent of cold weather and dark days, we find ourselves not only looking forward to brighter, warmer days, but also finding appreciation for what we have – food, shelter, warmth, and family (whether by blood or by choice).

We have eschewed the rushing about seen by so many in our culture for a simpler, more introspective celebration. Certainly, we give gifts to one another, but we tend to put much thought into giving authentic gifts – ones which not only fall within our values but which will also be appreciated by the recipient. Most of our gifts are handmade and planned for well in advance. We help our children make gifts for their siblings, which not only helps them to think about something which would be greatly appreciated but gives them, and us, the gift of our time together.

We drink hot apple cider and hot chocolate while playing board games or snuggling under blankets while watching a movie together. We spend time at home, appreciating one another and the chance to slow done after a busy year. We spend time thinking about how the current year has been going and what changes would be beneficial for us as individuals and as a family. We look toward the upcoming year, a blank slate of opportunities and possibilities for growth and enjoyment.

Slowing down allows us to better appreciate our lives, whether that means the opportunities and necessities afforded us or the people we embrace. Heading inside, while giving us time for introspection, reminds us who the most important people are. Spending time as a family rather than running around to programs and get togethers allows us to spend peaceful time together.

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APBC - Authentic ParentingVisit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next year’s Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!

 

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 30 with all the carnival links.)

Hibernating During Halcyon

Welcome to the October 2012 Simplicity Parenting Carnival: Holidays

This post was written as part of the monthly Simplicity Parenting Carnival hosted by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM. This month we are discussing how we simplify the holiday season. Be sure to read to the end to see a list of the rest of the excellent carnival contributors.

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Licht / LightIt’s getting colder out. This year there was no gradual change to speak of. It seemed that we had gone from 100 degree temperatures to freezing nights in the course of a few weeks. With it, came a feeling that my family should be hibernating, cuddled up under blankets, reading lovely books, and sipping hot cocoa. This feeling also stems from the fact that our schedule has been a bit over packed this fall. Normally we do pretty well at keeping it under control so that our family of introverts receives the time at home that we need. This fall, with extra weekly activities getting packed in last minute on top of what was a nice schedule, we are all feeling it. We are looking forward to a slower pace and more time at home to snuggle and contemplate.

Our family’s main winter holiday is Halcyon. Technically, it’s not a day and it doesn’t even occur in winter, as we celebrate Halcyon leading up to the Winter Solstice. With dropping temperatures, I think we can effectively call it a winter celebration. Typically, we celebrate Halcyon starting with Thanksgiving and culminating on the night of the Solstice. This year, however, I’m considering starting on November 1, as is typical. I’m ready to contemplate.

Halcyon is a time of peace. It’s a time of contemplation and introspection, of considering where our lives are and where we want them to be. It’s about realigning ourselves on our journey, refocusing ourselves, and taking a moment to redirect that inner compasses. Halcyon is a time of darkness and quiet as we await the return of the light. Halcyon is meditative and healing.

I think that this year, for me, Halcyon is also about hibernating and enjoying.

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Thanks for reading the Simplicity Parenting Blog Carnival! We hope you’ll take time to read these other great contributors’ posts:
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  • Making Halloween – JW at True Confessions of a Real Mommy says “No need to spend a lot this Halloween! Check out some easy, frugal ideas for dressing your family up!”
  • Hibernating During Halcyon – Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and her family are gearing up for the Halcyon celebrations and enjoying some quiet time as a family.
  • Savoring Family Time (or, Simple Homemade Gifts) – Emily at S.A.H.M. i AM is trying to prepare for the holidays early so she can slow down and enjoy time with her family as the days grow shorter and a new baby enters their lives.
  • 7 Green Gifts for Toddlers – Shannon at GrowingSlower shares unique green gift ideas for kids this holiday season that are sure to be green mom approved.
  • Less is More: Simplifying the Holidays to Make Room for More of What Matters – Amy at Anktangle shares a few easy strategies she uses to keep the holidays manageable, stress-free, and fun!
  • buy nothing x-mas? – mama lola at bear & lion describes what christmas is all about to her and her family; treats, music, crafts and LOVE!
  • DIY holiday fun – Justine at The Lone Home Ranger revels in thrifting for and making her own holiday gifts and decorations.

Thanks to all the fabulous writers and readers for being a part of our simplicity parenting community! Stop by The Lone Home Ranger and S.A.H.M. i AM to see how to join us for a future carnival.

Simplifying the Holidays

Welcome to the December Mindful Mama Carnival: Staying Mindful During the Holiday Season

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants
have shared how they stay mindful during the holiday season. Please read to
the end to find a list of links to the other carnival
participants.

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Our family celebrates Halcyon and the Solstice, along with some other holidays such as Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. It’s something that is at odds with the area of the country we live in, where one is bombarded with Christmas every time you step foot out of the door. In previous years, I think I have, to some extent, tried to normalize my children’s experience, one based on a need for authenticity, by trying to do too much – making all of our gifts by hand, planning fun activities to go along with our solstice calendar, finding all-inclusive activities in which we can participate without the insistance that everyone must celebrate Christmas.

An incident this summer, in which several people told me that I should not expect all-inclusive winter events and activities to be accepting of everyone participating, had me re-evaluating things. I realized that I was trying to find community in the wrong places. I looked at the 5 dozen blown out eggshells I had collected with plans to make lovely hand-painted krysanky ornaments and realized how ridiculous it all was. I began cutting things out – ornament exchanges, card exchanges outside of our normal list, large group events, etc.

Then I reminded myself that simple living isn’t only about handmade. So, while I have made most of my children’s stoclittle items and gifts, I decided it was okay to not make everything myself. I don’t have the energy to do everything, and I was the only one who really expected it of me. So, I purchased comfortable pajamas to give our children on Solstice Night rather than sewing them. We found a $9 gingerbread house kit which took so much work off my back and was more affordable then if we had purchased supplies for the kids to decorate a homemade version. WE ordered fewer holiday cards this year to mail.

We scrapped coming up with something special to do everyday and vowed to celebrate just our family and Halcyon however we saw fit each day. It’s been relaxing and calming, and our little family has enjoyed the season just as much; I have enjoyed it more. So, we make our special treats together, play games, watch movies, snuggle, share our memories and talk about everything important to us and forget about the rest of the world. Sure, we still make gifts for others and donate to families  in need, something we do regardless of the time of year. However, we are remembering that we aren’t about the holidays – the holidays are about us.

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Halcyon

As we gather nearer to the Winter Solstice, the darkness presses in closer, leaving us with an ever decreasing amount of daylight as we go about our lives. This period of darkness is when our family celebrates Halcyon.

The word halcyon is used to depict a time of peace and quiet reflection, stemming from the mythical halcyon bird which was thought to bring calming winds to turbulent seas. It was used to describe times of peace between warring peoples.

Photo by Lel4nd

Beginning on Thanksgiving and culminating with the Winter Solstice, our family embraces and celebrates Halcyon. We light a Halcyon candle each night to remind us that the light will once again return, just as it always has. The flame serves to focus our reflection of where we are in our lives and where we want to be, of how we want to improve upon our selves, and how we resolve to live our lives more peacefully and fully. We use this time of quiet darkness to focus ourselves and prepare for the things to come in the new year, after the return of the light.