Today marks the winter solstice, when the days begin to lengthen, bit by bit. Last night a number of local people celebrated the longest night of the year at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation with a potluck and bonfire. It was a magical night, merry with eats and drinks, and the Hudson Valley’s storyteller, Jonathan Kruk telling Promethean stories around a crackling, then roaring bonfire. Candles in paper bags lit the snowy paths, and inside the parks’ art gallery Ralph Szur and Chris Lawlor played fiddle tunes while people shared food, hot cocoa, and spirits with a celebratory air. Simple. Merry. Comraderie. Pleasurable. Relaxed. Festive.
And there was not one wrapped gift exchanged, no overplayed digital Christmas tunes, and no dried fruit cake was forced down anyones throats. No one dressed fancy and no priest was present to enforce any religious views, and yet a sense of gratitude and spirituality prevailed. How did we get fooled into believing that the holidays that surround the winter solstice, Christmas and Hannakah, were by necessity filled with obligatory visits, heedless buying, canned music, and an accepted level of stress? What is it that has convinced people that they need to BUY new things for other people at Christmastime? Do something a little bit radical for this holiday season: Just say “NO!”
Here are ideas #2 and #3 in the Do Something Just a Little Radical for Christmas series:
1: was Ditch the Wrapping paper
2: is The Gift of Time: For the people closest to you in life, express love and appreciation by spending precious time with them, instead of giving material gifts. If you can’t do it this year, make an agreement to do it next year. Find out what would make everyone most peaceful and fulfilled after the holiday, and full of energy for the new year, rather than exhausted and drained after the holiday. Now that’s a radical change for most people!
3: Be Quiet: this one might be a little too radical for many of you, but is one of my favorites! Imagine if around the world, all those who celebrate Christmas set aside one hour of that day, and was simply, utterly quiet? Imagine 5 hours! It would be revolutionary. All electronics off. No phones, no radio, no ipods, no TV, no computers. Just exist in your space, awake, for an hour, conscious that people everywhere are doing the same. Wouldn’t that be amazing? The national energy consumption would fall drastically! Stress levels would drop. People might actually have time to notice each other in a whole new way. Join me in starting a new tradition!
Now if we could add turning out the lights to that…