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.

***

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.

***

Thanks for reading the Simplicity Parenting Blog Carnival! We hope you’ll take time to read these other great contributors’ posts:
SimParCarButton150x150

  • 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.

Orange Pomanders

I’ve always known about orange pomanders. They were once used as air fresheners during the winter, a time when bathing was limited. I’m certain I even heard about my mother making them as a little girl. However, until recently I had never made an orange pomander.

I bought a bunch of oranges and bulk cloves for our recent Solstice Party. I had no idea how fun they would be to make. My children and I made more after our guests left. Poking an orange with a toothpick and then inserting cloves into a design is surprisingly peaceful and something that all ages can do. I believe we may have found a new tradition.

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.

***


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.

***

Mindful Mama Carnival -- Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ Visit The Mindful Mama Homepage to find out how you can participate in the next Mindful Mama Carnival!

On Carnival day, please follow along on Twitter using the handy #MindMaCar hashtag. You can also subscribe to the Mindful Mama Twitter List and Mindful Mama Participant Feed.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

The Winter Solstice

Ellen Jackson has a series of children’s picture books regrading various Earth-based holidays. So, when I ordered a copy of The Winter Solstice years ago, I had great expectations. Instead, I found a book focused solely from a Judeo-Christian perspective, even stating empirically that we now celebrate the winter solstice with Christmas and Hannukah.

The Winter Solstice

Most families searching for books of this nature are looking for something that doesn’t revolve around Christmas. Jackson completely missed the mark on this book. I would even have been happy with a book which talked about how Christmas traditions are actually taken from Winter Solstice celebrations. Instead, it’s a book which discounts everything about the solstice and fails to acknowledge the light and goodness which has been shown around the holiday throughout the years.

I won’t refuse to read the book to my children, but I will make clarifications when reading it. I would not purchase this book again.

The Shortest Day

If you are looking for a children’s picture book about the Winter Solstice that doesn’t mention Christmas, Wendy Pfeffer’s The Shortest Day will meet your requirements. Of the few childen’s books available about the Solstice, almost all mention the Christian holiday. This fact alone makes the book worth purchasing for families who celebrate the Solstice.

The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice

Jesse Reisch’s colorful illustrations are true to form for a picture book, engaging the youngest readers. Suggested activities, although nothing spectacular, and solstice facts at the back of the book garner extra points from me.

The book is based on factual information, which normally would have me overjoyed. However, the facts are a bit questionable. Most notably, the dates for how long various solstice traditions have occurred around the world are off. Perhaps it’s a smal detail, but one I find greatly annoying. Despite that, it’s a good starting point for families with young children who celebrate earth based holidays and one I would purchase again based on the great lack of books available for families such as ours.

A Solstice Tree for Jenny

There aren’t many books available for children whose families don’t celebrate Christmas, or at the least Hannukah. Children in families who believe differently are often at a loss as to how they fit in with the nonconscious religious ideology which surrounds us.

A Solstice Tree for Jenny (Young Readers)

A Solstice Tree for Jenny by Karen Shragg tries to bridge that gap. Jenny, the daughter of two free-thinking scientists who don’t adhere to any religious beliefs, finds herself in a new position one year when her family is in the States during the holidays. She notices the differences between those families celebrating and hers and feels at a loss.

An understanding teacher suggests that her family may be interested in learning about the Solstice and celebrating in a secular way. She presents the idea to her parents and the family decides to do just that.

The book is not without problems, the least of which are Heidi Schwabacher’s illustrations. The colorful  front cover is in complete contrast to the black and white pencil drawings which range from simple to disproportionate. The over-simplification of her parents decision regarding religion is almost laughable, as the majority of individuals who decide that they cannot celebrate a religious holiday in a secular manner do so out of a strong sense of honesty and authenticity.

However, due to the lack of children’s literature in this area, the book does have merit. It holds appeal not only to atheist families but to other minority families for its discussion of unity and focus on finding something that works for each family, and I would recommend to any of those families to at least check it out.