It is 4 days before Solstice and is this how it’s going to be? Some assembly required and I need 8 batteries!
The closer we get to that final destination station, known as Solstice, the closer our cute little happy family train chugging round the Christmas tree (Solstice Tree…whatever) is minutes away from derailing as I witness the sanity train wreck I have become these last 3 weeks and counting. Usually, my wife is great at getting my caboose back on track during derailments, but I’m running full steam in anxiety ridden demise of epic ADD proportions!
In the spirit of trying to make my life less commercialized, less hectic, and less dependent on a holiday attached to a religion that seems to think they own the rights to the entire Winter Season of greetings…. 20 years ago, I opted to celebrate Winter Solstice. It wasn’t as funny as Festivus (For the Rest of Us!) but it came with a simple pleasure and promise to me: if I make it through this longest night, the “Sun will come out tomorrow! Betcha bottom dollar that tomorrow…there’ll be sun!” For me, that was enough. I was used to growing up in bleak winters, shoveling snow, tires spinning, and playing Pinball Wizard with my Subaru bouncing off the banks of snow plowed hills. I needed that spark of hope to help me hold on to better days ahead.
Here’s the catch. For 23 years I have celebrated this, and for 23 years my Mom and I have been embroiled in this silent power struggle over which day we are celebrating together. To her credit, having grown up a Preacher’s kid, she was supportive, asking how I wanted to go about celebrating this New holiday called Winter Solstice. I was absolutely adamant that we needed to do this as “Traditionally Accurate” as we could. But, since we didn’t have any Druids on hand to ask, in true ADD tradition: We made shit up.
What about ambiance? Well, candles seem appropriate. Let’s start with that. Presents? Well, I don’t see why we couldn’t do something. We had Solstice “Cauldrons” for awhile, which consisted of 3 hippy draw-string purses, made in Guatemala, which we substituted instead of stockings. Why? I have no idea. My son was too young to question. (When we made the “leap” to stockings years down the road, he didn’t seem worse for wear.) Should we have a tree? It was pagan anyway. Yes, Tree Good! Tree stayed. 4 out of 5 Druids recommend Tree.
Yule Log? Well, that is all well and good, but we don’t have a fireplace, .No log. Carols? Well, singing in the “Light of the World” for the “Birth of the Sun” seems like it’s been done before, we might as well get on board. Hell, throw in a little Burt Bacharach while you’re at it and some Andy Williams Christmas specials! Dinner? Fondue, of course! Like the Vikings did! Or Stonehenge… Could we substitute Crab? We live in California now. Well, yes that seems appropriate, and I’m sure they would have polished that off with the traditional Chardonnay of the time.
Like Empires of old, we absorb the traditions and cultures around us, and repackage them to fit our paradigm… and then we hit the Mother of all brick walls: When to open up presents? Apparently, that has to be done on Christmas. Regardless of all the pagan entrapments surrounding us, and not a church service on the horizon for any of us heathens…what are ya gonna do? Pick your battles, that’s what…like what to paint on your stupid storefront window: “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas”. Yes, that is a “War” alright. Have a Bailey’s and Kahlua, watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special and shut yer yap.
Then there are the nightly battles with the kids, who have been stretched to their limits with Non-Stop Toy commercials and bright lights, with threats of less fuel efficient, more carbon encased briquettes in their stocking for misbehaving in the department store.
I have pulled out all the stops and am making threats to call Santa on speed dial right now! This is how out of control 5 days before Solstice is with an 8 year old, which is another bonus to have our holiday revelry 4 days earlier than Christmas. We are at Code Orange in the tantrum section and I’m not sure there is enough Bailey’s to calm my nerves. Already lost 3 nights of TV, where she has to earn them back. This is just to get her in the tub.
Then it’s quiet. Too quiet. With this one, quiet is a luxury with a price that’s going to cost me. Sweetly she calls to me! “Mom, you can come in now. I’m calm.”
I nervously venture in. The child is still fully clothed and the flash light is on in the bathroom, along with a plug in nightlight I had no idea we still had. “Look Mom! I can make shadow horses on the wall!” and she proceeded to replicate in fairly accurate detail, horses heads with her hands playing against the light. This would have been a game that would have entertained families hundreds of years ago, in the darkest nights of the year.
Oh, ADD Girl, our Adventures in parenting will never be dull! Through the madness, the crazy making “2- holidays-for-the-price-of-1-sanity”, Family is truly what makes Holidays special. It’s Dad making his famous Mincemeat pies that only he loves, and we love him for it. It’s my wife who has been delegated the exclusive title of “Wrapping Mom” because when I wrap gifts, it looks like a dog and a toddler fought over it. It’s the absolutely inappropriate raunchy comedy that my brother brings to share with us every year, laughing till our sides and jaws ache. It’s my oldest who always makes me laugh and daughter who is my Sunshine 365 days of the year, if only I can lift my head out of my self-inflicted crazy making to see it.
Holidays are an ordinary day on the calendar that we all arbitrarily agree to set aside for creating something extraordinary. Whether it’s dragging in a tree from outside, baking our favorite dishes, and sharing all of our peccadilloes’ and traditions, or ringing in the birth of the Sun/Son, the Light of the World, in whatever form one celebrates Light. Light is not only a biological necessity that gives life to all living parts of our planet, but a Universal symbol; the “A Ha” moment, the spark of Hope to hold on in the bleakest darkness. We could all get behind this and sing the Whoville song.