"Winter solstice! A time of transition in the annual war of light vs darkness, cold vs warmth, abundance vs shortage, life vs death! All people in our northern climes have tended to view this as the crucial time of year. A time to hold ceremonies designed to assist nature in rebounding from the path toward oblivion to one directed toward prosperity. A time to huddle at home with family and friends in love and worship, or a time simply to hibernate, as much as possible, sleeping more, and attempting to keep ones mind on other things.
It has often been said that the greatest joy tends to follow deep sorrow. What is so wonderful about the winter solstice is that once we are past that moment of time we can look forward to brighter skies. Slowly at first, then more rapidly as we go into January and February, days get longer and everything around helps us celebrate the increase of light. It speaks well for the human spirit that our greatest religious/spiritual celebrations take place at winter solstice time, as people radiate warmth of fellowship and love on these dimmer days. The festivals of darker days are really celebrations of light."
This really resonated with my feelings of how children are our celebrations of light! So it was only fitting for our December gathering to be a Winter Solstice Celebration. A year ago in December marked the Family Love Village's 1st Christmas gathering to welcome our very first guest speaker. That guest speaker was Cody Dale who spoke to us about RIE. For 2010's Winter celebration, once again Cody Dale was invited back to help us bring in the new year with a new topic on how to learn coping skills for our children. The presentation will be fully described in Winter Soltsice Celebration sequel. For Part 1, I wanted to share what we did for our celebration (especially since Part II will be a little on the lengthy side since there was so much important information that Cody shared with us).
As you might already know (from an earlier post), I have been participating in this 42-day online playgroup based on a book called the Abounding River which helps abundance, self-love, creativity, awareness, gratitude and generosity flow in your life. One of the practices is on being generous. I started thinking of how could the village create generosity this Christmas season. And at first I thought of Toys for Tots and how they help give joy to children in need which is a great idea but to me, just adds more to the consumerism and since it has to be a new, shiny toy in its new, plastic container, that it would be just one more thing added to our landfill (which all of you know me by now, I'm a geek for living green!) LOL
So I started doing some research on companies in the Los Angeles area that accepts gently used baby/toddler toys, books and clothes and found one called Baby2Baby. So I sent them an email to let them know I would like to host a drive to give presents to children in need and to see if they offer such a thing with their company during the holidays. I spoke to one of the founders and she was happy to accept the gently used gifts.
Unfortunately, after our gathering, when one of the village mamas (Eva) tried dropping off the items, she got lost and by the time she found the Baby2Baby location (7 minutes after their scheduled drop-off time), they were already closed. So Eva ended up donating all the toys and clothes to another wonderful non-profit organization (which I have mentioned in a prior post), Alexandria House - which is a transitional residence for women, teens and children in need. It felt good to hear that the children were really happy to receive these gifts and that the Family Love Village was making a difference in these kids' lives!
It was a wonderful evening where the villagers reconnected with some of the families that we hadn't had the opportunity to see in awhile (due to distance/location) and to welcome new families, as well. The potluck feast was a wonderful spread of Holiday yumminess.
To end the evening, I had passed out small pieces of paper to the families during dinner to participate in a ceremony to and for ourselves. I called it "Releasing of the Old and Igniting of the New" - where each person wrote down an old pattern/old behavior or thought that no longer serves who they are or want to be. Then on the 2nd piece of paper, each person wrote down a conscious behavior/pattern or way of thinking that they would like for themselves to become as conscious parents/spouses/individuals for the new year. After dinner, we all cuddled by the fireplace outside and shared what we wanted to release and set them free into the fire and then shared what we wanted to ignite in replace of the old. I suggested for the 2nd piece of paper to be kept somewhere where each individual can have easy access to it as a reminder of what we want to shift in our lives. Dalmacio and I put ours on our fridge. Although Dalmacio couldn't actually be there for the FLV gathering (due to taking care of our dog), we actually did this ceremony with my family when we had them over for Christmas dinner.
This ceremony was such a beautiful way for us to end our gathering. It really resonated well with the the description of what the Winter Solstice represents - with winter being a time of transition (as mentioned in the beginning of this post) and why there are religious/spiritual holidays/rituals that surround this time of season; because the festivals of darker days are really celebrations of light. To me these pieces of paper can represent perhaps an unconscious way of being that we want to release so that we can let our conscious lights shine in the new year! Because it was such a beautiful experience, I think it will be a ceremony that the village can do together for years to come.