When Sarah arrived on the scene, we decided it was time to declare a moratorium on holiday travel. More than it being a colossal pain in the heiny to travel with two little ones during the busiest travel days of the year, we felt it was time for us to begin developing our own family traditions for these special occasions. To wit, we've decided that in addition to Christmas, we will celebrate the Winter Solstice as a family.
According to Beliefnet, we're both NeoPagans, anyway (please do not ask me to explain what that is...we took a quiz, we came back as that, with strong leanings toward Universal Unitarianism...) Since most of the things we do to celebrate Christmas are derivatives of ancient solstice celebrations, anyway, we thought it would be cool for Kate & Sarah to grow up knowing exactly why we chop down a tree, bring into the house and cover it with lights and decorations this time of year.
According to the book I've been reading on the history of the world's Winter Solstice celebrations, people have been celebrating the return of the sun since our cave-dwelling days. While there are lots of old, cool traditions we could revive we're making a couple of our own. First, on the evening of the solstice (the 22nd this year) we're going to give the girls one "earthy" gift. When they get older, we'll talk about why people made such a hoo-ha about the longest night. For now, we'll just go with the gift. We got them a birdhouse with one clear wall that affixes to a window, so you can spy on the birds. Also, we'll be doing a dinner. I was going to make some fancy-schmancy menu for the night - because I enjoy that - but then I decided that the solstice makes me long for comfort food. So that's what we're having. This year we're going with our favorite chili recipe. Maybe we'll all wear our pajamas all day, I don't know.
I love Christmas, I can't wait to celebrate it with the kids. But now I'm exactly as excited about the solstice. I don't know if it's because I think that particular celebration is so cool, or because I'm thrilled to be able to start a family tradition. I don't suppose it matters.