Monday, November 29, 2010

Finding the Sacred in New Traditions

I began this post yesterday, but put it aside for further contemplation, because, like her, I don't want to offend anyone. One's spiritual leanings can be a bit of a touchy subject. But here we all are together, a myriad of beliefs and ideals. There is room for us all, isn't there?
I was raised Baptist Christian, my mother moved us to a non-denominational church when I came into my teens and I left the church all together when I was about 16/17. Regardless of faith or lack thereof I have always followed my family's traditional holiday celebrations, which were pretty standard, I think. The first Saturday after Thanksgiving we would put up our tree and from then we would shop and decorate and bake and enjoy the usual merry makings of the season. Advent was never a part of this, solstice never observed nor the saint's days. And certain members of my family have always been pretty adamant that we follow our traditions, never deviating. Tradition is tradition, I suppose. And for some I can see how knowing what to expect year after year can seem comforting.
But, in recent years I had begun to feel a certain flatness, hard to put my finger on but I just wasn't feeling as fulfilled with our celebrations as usual. Tradition had come to feel restraining and stagnant and I begun to feel that my spirit wasn't being nourished by our festivities. But how does one without a set spiritual path bring spirit and a sense of the sacred into celebrations based on religion? For me, the Christmas season has always been about family and togetherness. About celebrating just for the sake of celebrating, shouldn't life be celebrated? But suddenly, that just did not feel like it was enough for me, though, I don't think I could have put this empty feeling, this yearning for a more sacred and spiritual holiday into words. I did know that the coming of the Christ child held little meaning for me (though, completely respecting that it does for so many) and so did the hustle and bustle of scurrying of gift giving and receiving.
I began to learn about Waldorf education about two years ago and have admired (from a distance) the beauty of all the festivals celebrated. But while admiring them I was hesitant to incorporate them into my family's traditions, after all, most are religion based and I have none. Could these spirit filled festivities be embraced by someone with no spiritual leanings? After much pondering and introspection I believe the answer is simply 'yes'. As we light our first advent candle we look toward, not the coming of Christ but the coming of a different Sun and count down the days til Winter Solstice is upon us and the sun returns. Our garden grew this year and our time spent out of doors increased. We welcomed several new animal friends into our lives and in all of this my connection to this great Earth increased and with it I have a deeper understanding of how our lives here are supported by the sun. This is something that holds meaning for me. This is something I could wholeheartedly pass on to my girls and celebrate with them. We will also be adopting a couple of the saint's days, as well. St. Nicholas and St. Lucia. I do not have to be Christian to admire the selflessness and generosity of spirit that St. Nicholas represents and St. Lucia reminds all of us to be a shining light in the world. This is what I want to pass on to my girls.
So, this year the decorations will not be as many and are coming out more slowly. There is still much celebration to be had here, but the focus will be not on the material or the frenzy that builds over the season. Over the years I had amassed quite a collection of Christmas decorations and over the summer I gave most of them away, opting instead to make by hand most of what we put up and involve my children in this as much as possible. Too often children become spectators of these occasions and are only involved when something is to be received. Instead our aim will be the moment received, not the end result.
The gifts will be fewer. Not very many handmade this year (by me anyway), unfortunately. I will have to prepare for this Christmas rush in my shop sooner next year and work on gifts early in the year while I can. And the girls will be encouraged to work on their own gifts so that they can also feel that joy of giving. Giving of one's self will also be placed in special emphasis and will be included in our Advent calender.
The winter holiday season brings a sense of wonder, magic and the sacred into our lives whether we go to church or practice a religion in our own way, or not. How do you celebrate this season in your family?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Best Thing About Autumn (when you are a sheep)

Or a duck or a chicken, for that matter.
Leaves as snacks.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Yarn Along

I've been staying so super busy in my Etsy shop. I haven't knitted anything for me or mine in some time and have been thinking how in the world will I get anything made for Christmas? I am being realistic, admitting that I will have to buy most of the gifts this year. But I really do want to have at least one handmade (by me) for each of my girls this year. Which brings me to this week's Yarn Along. Yes, I have orders in the wait a mile long, but, I think I will take the girls' projects just one row at a time, fitting in the extra knitting where ever and when ever I can. Seriously, I knit knit the first few rows of this during our walk this morning.
So, the book is Seven Times the Sun. The pattern, Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap. And the yarn is from Cherry Tree Hill.

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gathering and Making

We went walking today, stopping to gather acorns. It was cold and windy but rather invigorating to walk in. My little gatherers can't help but stopping to pick up every leaf that has fluttered to the road. Makes for a slow walk but we had nowhere to go.
We're finally beginning to see the leaves change on our road. It's so very strange; when we go off of our road everything is orange and red and yellow and the leaves are dropping to the ground. But on our road the leaves are still pretty green and when they do turn it's been to brown and on the ground. Very strange and disappointing so I'm glad to see this lovely display.

Once home we ate lunch, read a story and took a nap (even mama). After the nap we painted some wooden beads for stringing. Remember, Kaiya is learning to hand sew and my Zoe is feeling a little left out. So I thought these beads would a) give her something to work on while Kaiya sews and b) help with her dexterity so she can sew some day soon, too. While we were painting she said "I'm dirty! Mama, are you getting dirty, too?". No, darling, not nearly as dirty as you.

And I wanted to share with you my latest creation. This is my first attempt at 3D needle felting. It was so much fun to make this little doll. I was working on her last night while the children were in bed and Kaiya woke and came in to see me. She was quite pleased with the doll and wanted to know if it was for them. Well, it wasn't but now there are two on my 'to make for Christmas' list, one in purple.

More of these to come. What a joy to watch the wool take shape! What are you creating?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Yarn Along

I'm joining Ginny today and sharing my latest knit and latest read. I actually just received this one in the mail today. Happy mail! It's so chock full of crafty goodness. I can't wait to dive in and get started on something. That is, if I can carve out some time in between orders. As for my current knitting project I have just cast on for yet another crown.
We also received this one today. I ran across it a week or so ago on someone else's blog but, for the life of me, can't remember who's. It's a really beautiful little book and a lovely illustration of staying in the moment.

Hop on over to Ginny's blog if you'd like to join along!