Yule is usually a festive time, but overlaid with a pandemic and restrictions, odds are that many of us will be facing the holidays alone. Or maybe you live with someone who doesn’t celebrate as you do, and you can’t escape to your usual community rituals to feel that festive spirit. What to do? Besides a hearty “Bah Humbug!” there are a few ways to get into the spirit of the holiday, even if you are all by yourself in celebrating. I’m making a list, and checking it twice, so come join me…
Engage your senses: Yep, get those bells on the doors, play some festive music, eat your favorite foods, snuggle up in a weighted or comfy blanket and keep some stovetop potpourri on simmer. Drop a few orange peels in to a pot of water, along with cinnamon sticks and some whole cloves, and have your home smelling like a winter wonderland. Gaze into candles, look up at the stars and moon, and do all the cozy things you love but forgot about in the hustle of life.
Think of others: If you have had deliveries take care of your basic needs this year, give back by creating a basket of t0-go goodies for all the lovely delivery people out there. Snacks, bottles of water, fruit or some homemade baked goods would all be welcome. Get creative and add other items that would be useful for your area: hand and toe warmers, Emergen-C packets, tea bags or candy are also good addition. Write a poem of thanks or create a festive sign to let these people know how much you appreciate them. Check on your elderly neighbors, and bring over a cooked meal. And remember the wildlife out there with birdseed, some water, and a few nuts.
Read: If it’s been a while since you’ve read a book cover to cover, go through you piles and create a stack to read during these winter nights. If books are not your thing, then graphic novels, comic books, zines and audio books are all welcome. Ask for recommendations and expand your horizon. Since we can’t travel, a mental vacation might be the ticket to feeling a bit more festive.
Nature: Get on out there, hug a tree, and visit local natural areas. Breathe deeply, enjoy that change of scenery, and let the magic of nature get you feeling festive. Buy yourself a plant, and name it. Create a Yule log with items you find out in your forest walks, or decorate your Yule altar with some found nature treasures.
Deepen your spiritual practice: Been a while since you had a good long chat with deity? Rectify that. Clean up those altars, and get rid of all the extra stuff you have cluttering up your altar space. Take it back to the basics, and see what you want to add. Try doing a novena, a word that is derived from the Latin word of nine. Spend nine evenings with a specific intention or focus, prayer, spell work, or whatever you are called to do. There are many classes, rituals, and novenas online, so take some time to find one, and enjoy the connection, albeit over the internet. Learn more about your spiritual traditions, get back into your magical practice if it has fallen by the wayside. Find a spiritual mentor and ask them the questions you’ve always been meaning to ask.
Send out cards: They don’t have to be holiday cards. Send out thank you notes, postcards, letters of appreciation, or artwork and doodles. Let people know you are thinking about them. Pick nine people who have meant a lot to you, especially this year, and let them know. Emails, texts and social media messages also count.
Explore your family heritage and culture: Nothing says love like food, so explore your ancestry via cooking and baking. Make a dish that you enjoyed from your childhood, or explore the cuisine of your ancestors. Or if cooking seems overwhelming, look up the different spices and dishes of your heritage, so that you’re more familiar with it.
Appreciate the dark side: There is always a balance to the light, so listen and watch all the darkly bah humbug kind of sad and wistful songs and movies out there. There can be something strangely satisfying about listening and watching those as a balance to all the enforced cheerfulness that invades our world during the month. And while you’re at it, take some time this month to really face the dark side of yourself: what do you want to shed and no longer do in the new year? Start pondering that as we head into a new year.
Gratitude: Yes, this year has been horrific, so if you can, eke out some gratitude for the good in your life. Maybe your friendships deepened, or you made some surprising new friends, or you got reacquainted with a skill you forgot you had or didn’t even know you could do. Perhaps your resilience surprised you, or your hustle, or your sheer determination got you to this last month of the year. Be grateful for all, and especially those people who bore the brunt of this hellacious year: those in healthcare, teachers, delivery people and restaurant workers. Light a candle for them, and keep it glowing well into the new year.
May your Yule be peaceful and filled with resonance. I’m grateful for all of you.