The Green Phone Booth welcomes back Yancy for another Meaningful Memory.
With all the frenzied activity of the holiday season, it is easy to become overwhelmed, stressed and just plain exhausted. The demands placed on us at this time of year can too easily steal the joy from what should be a happy time of year. And while adding yet another celebration to your holiday calendar probably seems counterproductive to the goal of stress reduction, that’s exactly what I’m going to propose.
The focus at this time of year tends to be on the Big Three: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s. But what about the winter solstice (usually around December 21st)? The darkest day of the year that precedes the return of the sun’s power? Celebrating the winter solstice is a great way to keep yourself and your family connected to the cycles of nature – and it’s surprisingly easy.
All you have to do is to literally unplug. On the darkest day of the year, symbolically embrace the dark. Here are a few tips to make for a fun winter solstice with your family:
No cell phones. No computers. No TV. This is a time to get away from the outside world and reconnect with the people you love.
Turn off all the lights and use beeswax or soy candles for light. Some people do this all night, but you certainly don’t have to if that doesn’t work for you. Try it during your family dinner, or afterwards, while gathering together to talk or tell stories.
Talk with your kids about the natural rhythm of the seasons. You would be shocked by how many kids don’t know the difference between – or even the meaning of – the solstices and equinoxes. These days generally pass by in our culture without any acknowledgement. Help your family learn more about the cycles of nature – it keeps them more connected to the natural world and is a great way to sneak in some science education, as well!
Take a walk.
The solstice falls just days before Christmas, which means your neighborhood will likely be lit up with beautiful holiday lights. This is a perfect opportunity to take your family outside for a nighttime walk to see the lights up close. Make a game out of it and have your family vote for the best holiday decorations in your neighborhood. Just be careful – take flashlights, wear reflective clothing and stay on the sidewalks in well-lit, low-traffic areas.
If you really want to go all out, arrange to have a family sleepover in the living room, in front of the fireplace. Lay out blankets and pillows on the floor with flashlights and pretend that it’s a real campout – read bedtime stories, eat s’mores (just pop them into the microwave) and have a lot of laughs.
There you have it – a no-fuss way to celebrate the solstice and to unplug from Christmas chaos. None of these suggestions will take you any extra time or effort and can offer you an excuse to relax and reconnect with your family. Just be sure to talk to your family beforehand – especially if you have teens! Make it fun!
Yancy Wilkenfeldt is a blogger, environmental activist and the owner of Five Seed. You can find her at A Green Spell and Five Seed.