Wednesday, December 22, 1999

Our First Family Winter Solstice

We had fun celebrating the winter solstice for the very first time ever. I am trying to build a set of rituals that the kids later will remember with fondness. For the good doing part, we went to the supermarket, where somebody was collecting money for the local hospital. We came in and he told me that they needed $3 to reach $2000, so of course, I gave him that. He immediately exclaimed happily through the whole supermarket, and went to call the radio station, after asking for our names. So that was fun. The rest of the supermarket visit was kind of badly timed, culminating in Timmy toppling over with cart and all, but I won't elaborate on that... :-)

During the afternoon, we went outside to collect sticks for our solstice fire. Cees was the only one who was focused on that, the other ones were wandering around, doing all kinds of things, once in a while remembering to get some sticks. But I got them all to contribute some, I didn't really care how much, I just liked the symbolism of everybody contributing to the fire. I also had normal logs for the fire, but figured we could use the sticks to start the fire, before we put a big log on it.

Back inside and trying to lit the fire. Well, that was were some little complications came in. Let's say that I am not a natural talent in the lighting of fires! LOL I think one of the problems was that the sticks from outside were not too dry yet, and I used newspapers which burned perfectly, but did nothing to light the sticks.... After a while I distracted the kids with a snack (by candlelight!), while I kept on struggling. Somehow this is not what I had envisioned when I planned a solstice fire LOL

After about an hour and getting some wood from our basement, which was really dry, I finally got the fire going! During the trying part, I kept having a baby who tried to climb all over me in the hope or reaching this very interested fire place! I still didn't really believe that it would stay burning, but it did, so slowly, I started
to relax ahout it. The kids were all ready to roast marshmellows, which they did for quite a while. They don't really have the patience for it, it was like keeping the marshmallow on a stick there for a few seconds, declaring it was done now, and happily eating it LOL. But they had tons of fun with it, which was my main goal. And by that time it was dark, so the fire looked really good.

Sander came home, and immediately started worrying about our house being burned down by the fire. I tried to reassure him, but he wasn't too convinced LOL

We had dinner by candlelight, which the kids loved. We ate French toast, which is a favorite of all the kids, and which we had chosen because it contains eggs, which symbolized a new start to us, the start of the days getting longer again.

After dinner there was supposed to be a solstice cake with a sun on it, but somehow I hadn't gotten around to baking it.... So we sent the kids off to play, I put the baby to bed and I sneaked out to the supermarket to get a ready made cake... (about 4 people in there commented on me being there without any kids!). Came home, used yellow frosting to put a sun on this chocolate cake, and then put seven candles on it, one for every member of the family.

It looked great and the kids were all excited about it. We extinguished all the lights, and talked about noticing how dark it was and that this was the longest night of the year. But (and then I lit a match), the sun was coming back again and these candles symbolized the return of the sun, making every day a little bit longer from now on.

I named all the family member names while I lighted the candles. We sang 'Happy Solstice To You!' together and then the kids worked together to blow out all the candles. We ate the cake together and then it was off to bed for the kids.

At night, Sander and I had planned our private celebration in front of the fire. I had picked up some champaign and chocolate in the supermarket and we were all ready for it, but kept getting interrupted by a worried Cees, who came downstairs asking how we would be sure that the fire went out and how he couldn't sleep because the fire was on.... When we still hadn't be able to get anything going around 1:30am and Cees came down for the x-th time, we decided that going to bed would be nice too LOL.

Sander extinguished the fire with some water, to reassure Cees, and we were off to bed, where we did have some solstice fun after all :-)

Like I said, this was the first time we did it and we had to make it up as we went, but I think it definitely was a success. I did some reading about solstice rituals and chose the things that I thought would work for us. I think we might get more elaborate overthe years, but for now, this was a good start.

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