On something of a whim, we headed to my parent's cabin up north to celebrate the Winter Solstice. We spent nearly a week there, tucked in among the cedar trees. In that old cabin, build by my grandpa and great-grandpa back in the 1950s, we snuggled up beside the fire, watching the snow fall, playing board games, and carving, knitting, and reading – together. It was exactly what I needed after the busiest season I can remember in recent years. To simply slow down, reconnect, and savor what life (and family) is truly all about.
Here are a few highlights!
Though we had a tree at home, Lupine felt it would simply not be Solstice without a proper Solstice tree at the cabin as well.
And since my favorite trees have always been the scraggly balsams found in my parent's woods, that was our first priority. Lu decided that a tiny table-top tree was in order as well, and, since my dad is clearing this woods of balsams anyway, we indulged.
A three-tree holiday? Why not…
Back at the cabin, two old-fashioned wooden tree stands were crafted from scrap lumber, and we decorated with trimmings we packed from home. Then there were all of our other Solstice traditions to attend to. There were gingerbread houses to bake, assemble, and decorate (one gluten-full and one gluten-free, each made completely by their respective child). There were our favorite holiday cookies to bake, homemade gifts to wrap, and a Solstice fire to prepare.
Our small (but meaningful) gifts ranged from a pair of knitted gloves to a wooden bird feeder; homemade nut brittle to an upcycled leather bag. I managed to steal an evening to make the kid's annual handmade ornaments, as well. They are the simplest (and possibly homeliest!) yet, but the kids got a kick out of them anyway. They are pickles because we're part German and love this bizarre tradition that I'm sure many of you are already familiar with!
The stone buttons, pictured below, were Pete's thoughtful gift for me. After I mentioned in passing while we were in Ireland that I wanted some, he gathered them up on the Irish beach, then drilled them for me after we returned home. I was utterly surprised and delighted.
And then outside we went, to watch the sun sink low beyond the river. We played, listened to the eagles, watched a mink romping through the snow, and worked on the quinzee we were building in the yard. As the sun set we lit our Solstice fire, and settled in for an evening of sparks and stars.
(Bottom two photos above, plus photos of me, thanks to Pete.)
Thoroughly chilled, we headed inside long after dark for candle-making and the simplest of dinners beside the fireplace.
Because honestly, who wants to stop all of this merriment to cook? None of us, it seemed, so stuffed baked potatoes were all that we managed. Everyone decided it was the best Solstice dinner yet, and that – along with celebrating at the cabin – it should be a new annual tradition.
In all we spent just short of a week at the cabin – a few days before, then a few days after our celebration. It reset us in the best way possible, slowing down like we rarely manage around the holidays.
Because all of that doing and buying and rushing about? It's not for us, we've decided.
And a slow, old-fashioned celebration is certainly more our speed.