less, but in no way lesser

frost and blueThis year did not go as expected.

Few do, I’ve found, but this one went off the rails right around Memorial Day. It was a tough haul to get things back on track. That happened about the first week in December, and then it was time to make space for the end-of-year holidays.

I know that for Americans, the holidays start at Thanksgiving – or if you are watching the retail market, approximately 23 August. I’m in another camp.

For me, Thanksgiving is one thing – I’m still accustomed to celebrating it as a harvest festival, despite having lived stateside for over 22 years.

In Canada, Thanksgiving happens in early October, when the harvest is abundant, the farmer’s markets are crowded and colourful, and we enjoy the bounty of the team effort of soil, sun, sweat, and seeds. (I guess the sweat part doesn’t sound very sexy, but there isn’t anything that grows in a garden without it.)

December holidays in the Northern Hemisphere are another thing entirely – a different kind of sacred. Winding down the year, noting the daily press of darkness, feeling the turning inward of nature to every shade of grey – this time calls us to find our own light, to shine the way for each other, to create welcome for reflection and pondering.

The wonder of the solstice, the day we turn back toward the sun – even though it will take about six weeks to really notice the longer days – is a celebration and an accomplishment. We did it!

Because of all the challenges of the year – far too many of which were accompanied by hefty medical bills and grief – my reserves were tapped out when the time came to prepare and decorate for Christmas.

So, I gave myself a pass.

A nearly complete pass. It turns out very few of our traditions are non-negotiable – a Christmas calendar for Kristina, candles and a tree, one batch of gingerbread, our stellar collection of holiday music.

The rest… just didn’t happen. And I’m okay with that. Even the tree was barely recognisable from previous years. With our new puppy (didn’t blog about that did I? She arrived in August, and there are a few pictures over here [scroll down], more to come at some random future point), our tree needed to be mostly bare. Turns out to have been just right. I kept thinking I’d get around to putting more on it, but then I let it go.

We had just enough ways to mark the season to feel its sacred value and magic, and no more. There was no stress, no pressure. Just a blanket of appreciation, gratitude, and yes, relief, for arriving at the turning of the year together.

We made it.

We’ve had some time with our Canadian family and now it’s the turning of the calendar year. I have some ideas for 2015. I hope the year will be kind enough to give these ideas room to grow and be shared.

english bay family

We’ll see how it goes.

May you find light enough in this time to see beauty in your world.

And a happy new year to you and yours.

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