The Sun As Anchor
Updated: Mar 8, 2019
Christmas is fast approaching and I think we can all agree that the experience goes beyond one of pure peace, love, and joy. There's bound to be some pressure in the mix, some disillusionment, and perhaps a little let-down brought on by the cultural hype. And it coincides, of course, with the sun drawing its lowest arc and making its briefest appearance of the year - Winter Solstice (in the northern hemisphere), the climax of darkness.
But there's something almost sublime in the low, pale light we receive this time of year if we take a moment to observe the way it slides in our south windows horizontally, or illuminates our world with a quality that speaks of winter. And if we let ourselves feel that, yes, we've reached the darkest days of the year, as distant as we can get from the generous warmth of June.
It's easy to feel untethered in a time when things like a changing climate and artificial intelligence are shaking the familiar and foundational in our lives. The sun's consistent wax and wane with the passing of months is an enduring anchor of sorts, a reminder that, as potent as we seem to be, we are still subject to the seasons. So I propose that, like so many have done before us, we honour this time of year, Solstice and Christmas, in a way that celebrates our inevitable swing back towards light and life (life on earth being wholly dependent on the sun, of course). Let's lean in to one another on these short, cold days and offer gifts that are life-giving, that speak to our shared emergence from the longest night.
A quick peruse through Pintrest would no doubt supply you with endless stylish, handmade gift ideas. But in the spirit of moving from tokens and trinkets to this life-giving notion, I'll throw out a few options that come to mind:
SEEDS - What could be more literally life-giving than seeds? Homemade paper envelopes or tiny tins, vials, or jars make a sweet way to offer some of your excess future garden plants.
PLANTS - Many houseplants are simple to propagate by simply putting a cutting in water to develop roots, then planting in soil. Maybe you've got an extra pot you could gift along with it (add some dabs of paint or wrapping of fabric if it needs sprucing up).
WORDS - Written, spoken, humorous or profound, words are free and endlessly renewable. When they are a genuine offering they will surely resonate with the recipient as life-giving.
EDIBLES - Something of your own hand for another to consume is a dear and nourishing gift. It might be a jar of summer's bounty, spiced nuts, infused vinegar or honey, or anything you feel your recipient is sure to enjoy. Or give the potential of edibles through a collection of your favourite recipes or a promise to prepare a custom breakfast or other meal.
BITS OF NATURE - Simple collections of nature's materials offer a welcome reminder of the earth we belong to (easy to forget as we huddle indoors and don't see daylight outside of our workday hours). Evergreen boughs could be secured into a small wreath with natural twine (so the whole thing can be composted at season's end), a handful of river stones could be artfully stacked, or sticks with pleasing shapes could be bundled together along with cheery rosehip sprigs or cinnamon bark.
ATTENTION - Life-giving in a less literal, but no less tangible way, our full attention is a welcome and surprisingly rare gift. As the sun wanes low, human connection can be the perfect balm - perhaps through a shared drink, a game with a young person, or a patient conversation with someone elderly.
As we descend inevitably toward the longest night, I hope whatever you partake in this season feels rich and life-giving. We'll come out the other side - we always do!
As a side note, I'm happy to provide gift certificates for a stay at Hereabouts B&B - email me and we'll work out the details. The gas fireplace makes the tiny house cozy in the winter and I promise to do my best to nourish the recipients well!