For many people, the December holidays are not a time of good cheer, especially Christmas which became dreadfully commercial in the last century. For me, Christmas became deeply painful after the death of my parents. Pulling out the familiar ornaments to hang on the tree triggers all the grief of losing them to cancer, all over again. Perhaps it would be different if I had children to share these holidays with. But I don’t. It’s just me and my sister now. I know I’m not alone in my grief. Holidays are hard for anyone who is missing someone.
There are other bitter truths in this moment. So many, many people are in need right now and/or unsafe. Homelessness, hunger, and a pandemic that just won’t quit are huge problems. Add to that the toxic divisions in our society, a plague of guns, endemic loneliness, the looming possibility of WWIII as Ukraine endures and repels ongoing Russian attack, and the usual seasonal depression make holiday cheer a big, big ask. We are not, most of us, living in a Hallmark Christmas movie.
But all that being said, Northern humans have always had to face the long, cold nights at this time of year and the fears that come with the night. Ancient traditions of bringing some greenery into the home, coming together to protect against the dangers of the Wild Wood, charity, and telling stories together around the fire — those are things that go back to our beginnings. And naturally, some of those stories were very scary ones involving ghosts and monsters. Recently, I’ve taken some comfort in looking at old Yule traditions. I have a couple of videos to share with you — one by an irrepressibly cheerful Bavarian witch and one by my favorite Goth museum guide. I hope you enjoy them.
Me, I think I’m about ready to bring a little greenery into the house and light some candles. And for some reason, I have an urge to pick up The Witcher stories where I left off, for they are really a reimagining of fairy tales from a time of the Wild Wood.
Whatever you celebrate — and whether you celebrate — I hope this season of the Winter Solstice brings you blessings and keeps you warm and safe.
The weekend begins now. Come in to the warm kitchen, be comfortable, and share your day, your weekend plans, your menus! This is an open thread.