For years, I thought about celebrating Solstice with my kids.
It seemed like it would be a great way to take some of the commercialism out of Christmas and it would give us a chance, as the kids got older, to recapture some of the magic of our homeschooling journey together.
In 2009, we decided to create our own holiday traditions for Solstice. Each year, they vary a bit (for instance, the first year we used hammers and nails to puncture tin cans in pretty patterns to create lanterns to line the driveway—much harder to hammer nails into tin cans than you might imagine! So we recycle them each year and haven’t had to make them again).
But there are a few traditions we do every year.
For instance, we always light a fire (sometimes outside, sometimes inside). Then we take strips of paper (old Trader Joe’s grocery bags cut into long strips) and we write two things on them:
1) Regrets from the past year
I regret not working harder to help my team…
2) Wishes for the coming year
I wish that my sister and I would get along better this year.
These get read silently by the writer, then tossed into the flames. We usually play a little instrumental Celtic music in the background while we use magic markers to write. It’s proved to be one of our favorite traditions of the year. The kids now like to keep a record of their wishes so they can remember year to year what they wrote the previous year.
Another tradition we love is to make handmade gifts for each person. This means we can’t go to the store and buy someone a CD or scarf. Rather, whatever we give, it must be crafted in some way by the giver.
Some of the items of the last several years have been:
- Origami cranes colored to look like famous people (based on the celebrity obsessions we each have—from Lady Gaga to Dumbledore to Dietrich Bonhoeffer!)
- Book marks and popsicle stick picture frames
- CD mixes (tailored for each person)
- A lengthy rap, where each stanza addressed a specific family member and the whole thing was performed with accompaniment
- Photos framed with selected passages from novels (remember the value of copywork?) that went with each person
- Apple calendars with photos of the kids for each month of the year drawn from my lifetime supply
- Harry Potter brooms (matching the houses each of my kids believe they would be in)
- Personalized Christmas ornaments
- Art trading cards
- Embroidered initials in small hoop frames
We also eat special foods (in our home, we eat a cashew pasta dish, homemade applesauce, and sliced oranges with sugar and cinnamon on them) and we drink a special wassail (though this year we are trying mulled wine).
The event ends when we make candles from a beeswax kit purchased from Hearthsong (a favorite toy and craft company we’ve loved for 20 years).
The most wonderful thing about celebrating Solstice is that I get to see the fruits of all those years of crafting, reading aloud, the celebration of family, and the care for each individual member all expressed in one evening celebration—at the darkest time of the year. For us, it’s been a most satisfying addition to our winter holiday celebrations.
I want to publicly thank Kimmy Certa (Brave Writer mom and online friend) who first put the thought into my head as I witnessed her version of Solstice celebrating.
Happy Winter Solstice to all of you!