We are now in the early days of the busiest time of the year, or what feels like it. I don't know about you but I suspect that I am busier in the summer months but because it is warmer and the daylight is around for much longer you don't feel busy in the quite the same way. This time of year is not supposed to be a time for being busy, it is a time for slowing down, for quiet time and going gently, perhaps that is why we can feel frazzled when we try and do so much, it is difficult to say no when there are so many wonderful things going on around us.
The past two years we have avoided all this hustle and bustle by going away, last year for the whole of December and the year before the week leading up to Christmas. Both these trips were to places where we were hidden from the crazy, busy of this season. We are not going away this year so I have been thinking about ways of doing the same whilst being at home, while I ponder how this will work I do not want to be paralysed by the thoughts that we need to hide a home to find the peace and quiet. It is a difficult balance.
I spend a lot of my life planning, making sure that each week is a balance of time at home and time out and about, a balance of quiet and busy, all the time I am holding that space making sure it works for us. I have learnt the hard way how important it is to include the quiet time, the peace, the time for breathing out. As I head into this time, with a month of many illnesses behind me, my planning has become drawn towards the quiet, being at home more, interspersed with time with friends or going to events - but as always only one thing a day.
If I am going to celebrate or observe an event or festival in some way I need to feel a connection to it. Over my years as a parent I have searched for a way to observe the weeks in December that were more than a build up to a day of eating large amounts of food and giving and receiving gifts. I found what I was looking for a few years ago and have continued to use this, changing it slightly each year to reflect the changes in the children. We use this time to think about our connection to the world around us, focusing on one aspect each week. The first week we consider the mineral kingdom, our connection to the Earth the physical foundation of a life, the ground we stand on. The second week we consider the plant kingdom celebrating the bounty and nourishment we receive, the growers who make this possible for us, the rain and sun that creates a balance of growth and decay, the life of this kingdom unlike the still, solid mineral world. The third week we consider the animal kingdom, we remind ourselves of our relationship with animals, how we share our capacity of movement with them, consider their traits and how we might be like particular animals. The final week we consider Humans, how all the other three kingdoms contribute to our existence, our place in the universe, how we are with other people, how we can support each other and look after each other. We explore these themes, ideas and thoughts through stories, poems, songs and now that the children are older we have been talking about what they mean to us. It is not a time to be critical, it is a time of thinking,
The four weeks of December is also a time of moving through the darkness to the return of the light, the last few weeks of the days shortening. It can be hard time especially if you live somewhere like me where the sun is rarely seen, with heavy grey clouds filling the sky day after day. Staying positive is hard. Somehow the chinks of positivity can be found, by being grateful, for thinking about all the wonderful things we have done this year, spending time with those we love, what we could do in the future, the possibilities, maybe sowing the seeds of a new beginning.
The gift of light
I thankfully hold
And pass to my neighbour
Its shining gold
That everyone may
Feel its glow,
Receiving and giving
May love and grow
How do you celebrate and stay positive at this time or year?