Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Happy Solstice!

My Bookman and I, neither wanting to celebrate the Christmas of my family or the Hanukkah of his, have been celebrating Solstice for almost as long as we have been together. Through the years we have learned much about the ancient traditions of Solstice and from them have fashioned our own. Our celebration entails an exchange of gifts and an elaborate dinner and dessert served on our special celestial patterned dishes that we use only for the occasion. We eat by candlelight to the musical accompaniment of Vivaldi's Four Seasons conducted by Arnie Roth and with the original poems written by Vivaldi and read by Patrick Stewart. When we began our tradition we lived in Southern California where the seasonal changes do not mean much. The holiday was more intellectual. Now that we have lived in Minnesota for over ten years we have experienced the full force of the seasons. The holiday has taken on a new significance where the return of the sun has real meaning and our imaginations can understand the fears of ancient people that maybe the sun wouldn't come back, that the long night might go on forever. There are quite a number of Solstice books these days, but the one we own and that I like best is The Winter Solstice written by Ellen Jackson and illustrated by Jan D. Ellis. It is a delightful children's book that tells of rituals and traditions from the Celts to the Romans to the Native Americans as well as several others. One of our favorite things to do the night of Solstice after we have eaten dinner and filled in the last open spaces in our stomachs with dessert, is to snuggle up together, each with a new book we have given to the other, and read. This year I will be reading Vita Sackville-West's In Your Garden, dreaming of spring and pretending it isn't the 10 below the forecast is predicting. I have been wanting the In Your Garden books for years but they were out of print and no one was selling them at all, or if they were, it wasn't for a price I could afford. But my sneaky Bookman found out they had been reprinted this year and managed to keep it a secret! Happy Solstice to you. May your winter be short and the long night filled with love and hope.