This time of year, we tend to look at our fellow humans with a changed perspective. I believe that somewhere deep within us we remember how it was to be uncertain of our survival through the winter. In the ancient village, when each person was necessary to the whole, it was important that all were cared for. If one family’s luck ran short, it was up to the rest to support them. In our Modern Times, this is manifest in the many support networks that feed the hungry and give toys to less fortunate children. The world is not perfect and we work to change what we can. Meanwhile…
Often the spiritual communities take responsibility for this, the Churches and their supporters. These organizations have the mechanism in place to provide these resources, and there is nothing to say that we of an “alternative religion” cannot be a part of this outreach. ‘Round these parts, we have given to Valley Churches United Missions, in the name of the Pagan community, and had our donations lovingly acknowledged. If this does not feel comfortable for you, choose a way of giving that is secular. Remember that our giving is a deep expression of our gratitude for what we have been given, and when we support the larger community, we honor the spirit of Those who give to us daily.
Here are some other interesting ideas for celebrating Yule: Write letters to Santa Claus. This may (or may not) sound weird, but I love Santa, always have. And as an adult, I enjoy how the Sun returns on Solstice and then Santa comes…coincidence? Anyway, writing him a letter detailing my wishes feels like a lovely way to work a spell for abundance.You can cut your own Yule tree from one a local farm. I am good with this for the same reason I am good with raising animals to eat. We burn wood in the Winter and this tree is especially blessed because of the time it spends in our home full of singing and light. We always bring an offering for the Earth to plant at the base of the tree and leave some branches below the cut so the tree will grow again. Another option is to buy a potted tree and plant it after the holidays. (I have done this 3 times with no luck growing them, but maybe you have a greener thumb.) Or decorate the trees in your yard, with objects that will survive the rain, or are at least biodegradable or edible for the birds.
Be artsy and make your gifts, or offer the gift of your time and talents to your loved ones. Some of the presents that have been offered at the Homestead are: A trip to your favorite antique store and money to buy a small thing there; 5 desserts of your choice made by our family baker throughout the year; a hike to a surprise destination. There are so many ways to bless each other from the heart!
You can make donations in the name of your friends and family. Each year we choose a different charity and include a note all about it in the family cards. This way, the flow flows to those who need it.
When people say to you, “Happy holidays!” or “Merry Christmas!”, respond with “A merry Yule to you!” Your mileage may vary, but folks around here totally dig that.
Most of all, celebrate. Draw those who mean most to you close to you; in the flesh, on the phone, by skype, cards or emails. Touch the people you treasure. Light a candle for those who no longer share this wide world with us.
When the days of light begin again, they do not come on suddenly, like a sharp brilliance in a dark, restful room. Slowly, but certainly, the days lengthen, giving us time to transition. We move through the cycle of the Seasons, with plenty of time to explore their heights and depths before moving on.
This Yule, bless yourself and the world around you, and watch for the Sun of your Heart and the World’s Heart to rise again.