Happy holidays, dear ones!
I hope you are enjoying a joyous holiday season, however and whatever you choose to celebrate.
As many of you already know, our family’s big, annual celebration is the Winter Solstice. While we both grew up celebrating Christmas, Solstice always felt like a wonderful match for our family, and in the past 20-some years, we have woven our own traditions around this celebration of the returning light.
The four of us gather and celebrate the longest night beside the fire, spending our time playing board games, often dipping candles, and exchanging small handmade gifts with one another.
I look forward to our quiet, meaningful, joyful celebration all year.
This year (like last) we spent our holiday at my parent’s cabin alongside the Wolf River. It added so much to our celebration, to step away from the day-to-day of laundry and to-do lists (and Wifi!) and just sink into the silence of the long, dark nights.
This cabin was built by my grandfather’s and my great grandfather’s hands. Even the smell upon unlocking the door each time we visit is as familiar as home.
This river, where I learned to navigated sharp rocks and swift currents; where I learned to tie on a hook and cast for trout is familiar as well. I know which rocks offer safe purchase, and which ones wobble, which are slippery and which will safely hold my feet. My parents and grandparents before me knew the same, and my children have unlocked many of her secrets as well. This river where we spread my grandma’s ashes, and where Pete and I–both clad in leaky chest waders–became engaged, and later married (arguably better dressed on that latter date).
It’s the river from whom we borrowed our name, and the place where we return again and again.
And so, for Solstice, we returned once more.
To rest, to celebrate, to savor. While this place isn’t home, it really is (if that makes sense).
We arrived at the cabin a couple of days before Solstice, allowing us time to finish gifts and preparations for the holiday. On Lupine’s request we didn’t cut a scraggly balsam from my parent’s woods as we have before (and as is always my first choice), but instead visited a nearby tree farm to purchase something fuller and, well, a little less “Charlie Brown”. Lupine was over the moon, of course, and I was happy to accommodate.
Back at the cabin strung up twinkle lights, hung our favorite homemade ornaments on the tree (some made by me, and others by my grandmother decades ago just for me, and right next door to where they now were displayed), and we set to work baking cookies and gingerbread for the coming dark, and wrapped up gifts to exchange throughout the day.
The gifts we exchange are small and simple: Lupine knitted a cowl for Pete, and I made him a hat; he is carving me a wooden kuksa cup. The kids got a windfall of mama-made Totoro creations on their request (t-shirts, hand knits, and ornaments).
One stand-out handmade gift was the gorgeous burl wood shawl pin that Sage carved for me, after hearing me express my wish for one for years. So thoughtful, so beautiful.
We played board games and nibbled cookies and gathered by the fire long into the night.
It was a lovely celebration.
After Solstice we packed up and headed to visit my parents for Christmas eve.
More handmade and thoughtfully chosen gifts were exchanged (like the towels my sister printed for my mom and I, below–gah!–), too many cookies were eaten, and lots of time was spent knitting and visiting beside the wood stove in my childhood home.
And now? We’re home again.
And after a busy season and a full week away, there has never been a cozier sight than that of our farm. This hardworking, scrappy, weathered home—messy floors, worn paint, and all.
And no where else feels better than that.
Wishing you and yours a joyful winter season, filled with peace and patience, self-love, and kindness for all.