Christmas often feels frantic and commercial instead of spiritual. New Year’s is party time. At Winter Solstice, I feel the peace of Nature’s dark pause and the gift of returning light. It’s my favorite winter holiday.
Since my husband Vic’s death in 2008, I’ve created Solstice rituals with my sons each year. We grieve over what is lost and celebrate our blessings. David’s wife Liz joins us now and adds her joy and spiritual perspective.
Personal ritual helps me throughout the year. I take flowers or small offerings to the place where Vic’s ashes are buried and light a candle before meditation. I create simple rituals to suit my needs, to contain grief, give thanks, ask for health for myself or others, or quiet myself in times of turmoil. Or because I need to feel connected to my heart and the earth.
Make the ritual your own. Read passages from scripture or inspirational writing that feels sacred to you. It could be something you’ve heard recited all your life or something you read for the first time last week. Sing favorite carols or play the music that speaks to your heart. Share your favorite poetry, prayer, or passage. Add something beautiful from nature, like a feathers. acorns, or a stone. Add humor. Or be silent and light candles to honor the returning sun.
My family will express gratitude for life and pray for the suffering of others and our beautiful earth. We’ll speak about what we wish to leave behind before we light a candle—or two or three. Then we’ll voice our hopes for the future. We’ll hear our own and each other’s heart-words in a quiet intimate circle.
This year, I’ve gathered a red cloth to cover a wooden cabinet, a favorite photo of Vic (the one I keep on my altar), white and red tapers and white votive candles, evergreen boughs, feathers, pine cones, and acorns. We’ll pile it all on the dining room table along with the nativity figures and a few Christmas ornaments and build an altar together
First, we’ll lay the cloth and add candles and evergreen boughs. Maybe I’ll add a bowl of seeds to symbolize new life. As I have since Vic’s death, I’ll put his photo at the back. We’ll breathe in Nature’s pause and let our projects wait. Soon enough, we’ll welcome the New Year with self-care reforms, big goals, and resolutions.
Until then, may there be Peace in you, in me, in those we love, in those who are far away, and in those who are alone at home or strangers in distant lands.
Peace on Earth. Blessed Solstice to All.
For a post about last year’s Solstice ritual, see Solstice Blessings: A Family Ritual of Remembrance and Love. You’ll also enjoy Creating A Grief Ritual: Love, Loss, and Continuing Bonds.