i don't want holidays. i want holy days.

I don’t want Holidays.

I want Holy Days.

I spent a lot of time planning how my little family *would and would not* celebrate the holidays before my little family could all walk and talk.

Thanksgiving would be a harvest meal, shared at the farm, with the farmers, in gratitude and abundance of what the earth gives. And it wouldn’t be on Thanksgiving either. It would be on a different day. And Thanksgiving would be spent in reverence and apology, somehow, for the damage that was and has been done. It would be spent in repair, active, and loudly. 

I was sure we would celebrate solstice only, with the bonfire lit, the food prepared with love, maybe gathered with extended communities. Lots of ritual. Lots of flame. There would be gifts, of course, because who doesn't like gifts. But they wouldn’t be bought in the way we are taught to buy. They would be sought and cared for, they would be prayers wraped in old fabric. And they would be something to pass on, not to discard. 

Christmas would come and go, maybe we’d go to the hot springs or camp and offer our services to those in need, but we wouldn't celebrate it in the traditional sense. Because I do not practice this faith. I love Jesus. And I believe in Jesus. And I try every single day to embrace the resistor, rebel, love warrior, teacher, and wild fire he was. But he is not my personal savior. I do not believe he was the only one born to lead in love and peace. And I do know that December 24th isn’t even the day he was born. Common sense. And also, colonization of religion.

If all the pagans and pre-colonized spirituals were celebrating the Light and the Sun on the 21st, then why not bring in The Son on the 24th and convince people this is the new Way? Makes sense. Slow or fast, a take over, a colonization, happened. And that is enough reason that I cannot settle into the season, in the ways that are of spirit. I cannot celebrate, with good heart, a time that has been stolen from others. And most likely those others are in my blood, the women, behind the women. And so on.

Then there is that media thing.  In which we kept away from the kids as much as we could but then they get big and they see for themselves and begin to taste the sugar before they open their mouths and they want. They desire. This is human nature and a child doesn’t come here with the understanding of captiolistic brainwashing, they come here with wanting joy and family and community. They want to belong. And this is what is given, over and over again, through tales of Santa and commericals and radio and internet and just because these kids are sponges, they take it all in. You can hide them in a cave but the world will always find them. This world is ruthless like that. So we work on what we do, what stories we tell, what they see and feel from the inside out.

It wasn't until probably a few years ago, when my children began defining the season beyond what I would offer, when they began being seduced by what they were being fed.  It felt like Consumerism was a predator swooping in for a kill on my kids, eating away at them until there is nothing left but little wanters, and beggars, addicted to plastics and electronics. I didn’t know what to do or how to proceed. Part trust and part no and part yes and all things done in love. And yet still, much didn’t sit right. Like I had no choice. Like I wasn’t able to create what I wanted because there were bigger forces as play. And I didn’t know how to keep temperance among it all. I stuggled and still do. To live in both worlds. For them. For us all.

And of course all the sentimental leftover stories from my own childhood that somehow I was both pulled + triggered to re-create - but never really have been able to {my mother used to cook for like 18 people for 3 days in a rows and our front door was revolving and to be honest it was fantastic and exhasuting but how extended families and communities like our did it. I certainly don’t have a neighbor willing to drink his weight in whiskey and stand on the table and sing Sinatra until 3am- which was my holy day season as a kid. I can’t compete with an era that is now bygone, a history that is now only story, and I certainly cannot compete with my mother’s cannoli or Aunt Pena's sicilian pizza crust.  

It’s not like I want to throw away tradition. I don’t. I love ritual and what has been passed on.  But what has been passed on? I knew that along side my own stories about the holidays, I needed to create new ones. Because too much stress and obligation have been carried forth. To much "needing to do" and not enough just letting ourselves "be". To much belief in a religion, or a dogma, that does not even apply to me at this point. And I don’t want to be a fake. I don’t want to appropriate someone’s faith- I seriously respect Christians and Christianity. This is the time of year they celebrate their savior’s birth. This symbol is sacred to them in different ways than it is to me. I am not about to celebrate their holy day in ways that they do when it isn’t exactly mine to take. 

So mostly, I’ve struggled. I have struggled wanting to feel more connected around the holidays and also wanted to pull away from anything that felt gluttonous, wasteful, sugar-infused, and exhausting- and not align with my own very eclectic spiritual path- yet at the same time-  I want family but I don’t want overwhelm. I want abundance of food, but not at the risk of my health. I want to celebrate but not at risk of my own values.

What I do want is to connect around the seasonal shifts and the magical story of what’s available to us all during these times :: the moon making way for the sun, the heat instigating our voices to open and be ready to birthmup even in the quiet, to laim queendom of the underworld, to become the daughters and sons who roam a landscape of darkness, not out of force, but out of choice. To know the hope that shimmers against the blank space of death. It’s a mystical time.  Holy.  I have always felt this. It is my time of birth. The time of year I chose to say yes, to fertilization, to gestation, to growing, to birth, to my first breath.

I want to stop the shopping and start the making. Wood, glue, glitter, yeast. Yarn, paint, beads, paper. Paint, dye, wax, fabric.  I want to stop the doing and start the chopping of wood and spend the next 2 months stoking the fire in between sticking my finger in the honey and getting comfortable in the cave. It’s like I am nostalgic for a time I never was a part of, an era that has been impoverished in me, and know it as intimate truth.  I want to show my children what matters ::  Us. Together. A fire. Warmth. Hope. Faith. Light. Giving. Gratitude. Silence. Wandering. Receiving. Creating. Gathering. Being alone.

I am not sure how I got here where I am, or how my kids write these long lists of shit they want- though I will say that conversations over dinner has proven to make their lists shorter, more simpler than last year or the year before that. And no matter how hard we try not too, we still spend too much money that we really do not have to spend… only to maintain this sense of "belonging" to a culture that I am not super stoked on anyway.  And how I have no will power to say no to gatherings and parties that I just don’t want to be at so I guzzle a bottle of wine to cope. And the brie.  I don’t know how to say no to the brie. Please, tell me, how do you say NO TO THE BRIE? {maybe saying no to the brie is just too much to ask of me}.

And when I try to re-create anything else and change shit up…. everyone in my life whines and moans and wants to do things the original way {THEY WANT THE BRIE}. Because it’s addicting, to be honest. The holidays, in many ways for me, means addiction {for tarot people, check: the devil card}. 

Maybe I have become scrooge. A heartless empty human who does not want to belong to this season in the same way everyone around me seems to love. 

I do not watch Love, Actually.

And I do not really like Christmas music.

And I do not want a secret santa. 

Or maybe I just know what serves me and nourishes me.

Maybe I just know.

Maybe I just want to spend these days in honor of the season.  With nothing much to do but reflect on the past year. Knowing I am safe and held. And my kids are growing and thriving and cared for. That deep down they appreciate and respect this path I am trying hard to carve.

Maybe I know I can never have the holidays my mother and father gave us, it’s just not in my blood anymore.  And if I can’t then why pretend? Why try? Why relive? Why not just make something new?

I know what I need now, at age 42, what is needed to maintain health, vitality, homeostasis.  I need to *not* have another season fly by where in the end, I am just worn out, sick, and annoyed {and ten pounds heavier}.  And swearing on the graves of my ancestors that NEXT YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT.

This year I am committed.

I am saying no to a lot of things. 

Even if my kids hate me {I know, I sound so mean}.

Even if the elders get angry when I say- no more shitty gifts, please. 

And I am saying no to too much control on my part as well.

and I am saying no to capitolism.

And I am saying no to the colonization of the mother and the father and the holiness that comes when we enter the in between of the two.

I will drink some.  I will eat well.  I will enjoy the company of others.

But I won’t over-give. Or over-eat. Or over-spend. Or over-commit..

And I won’t get drunk every night in order to have a good time.

And I will create new things for my children that bring in the Light.

And I will make fires.

And I will make things, beautiful things, from my heart, and give them as freely as I can.

And I will walk in the cold and wet, at night, every night, and do this as a ritual. As a way of bringing in the holy day ahead. 

I will trust myself.  And my body.  And my needs.  Because that is what these days are about.  Illuminating to who we really are- when we are in the dark.

Excuse me but I’ll be at the fire the next couple months, I will be in my cave. I will be writing. And I will be making. And I will not be taking in a lot of media. Or sharing a lot on media. You can find me, still, of course. I am never far from here.  I may not be too responsive. But my heart is with you. Promise.

And my prayer, for you, on this 12th day of Christmas, or Advent, or Solstice, is that you align your rhythms with your faith, that you honor what your heart has always known, that you are brave to make changes, and that you are gentle with yourself when you cannot. That you own these dark times, as a queen does, and you have chosen, to go here, to explore the terrain, on your own, as only you want to do. 

xx, mb.

*****

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