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Intentional Celebration

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Written by Mariah Joy

In a time where there are more people in our collective human tribe than ever before, communication is literally at our fingertips, and home is just a flight away, people are lonelier than ever, lost and seeking. In my own seeking the words meant to comfort, “home is where the heart is” only aggravated me; my heart lay scattered from California to Alaska.

I’m still not sure where to call home. I grew up flying between parents, one in Alaska the other in California, with a host of beloveds up and down the distance between the two.  I was deeply loved, and not at all anchored to a place, everywhere, and nowhere at once, to call home.

As a mother my heart aches a bit to imagine my fledglings wandering adrift in a sea of human bodies without their tribe. Yet, I imagine, one day they will venture off, and so I lean hard into the traditions we hold dear at home, knowing that these truly can be the home inside their hearts regardless of where their head rests at night.

Anchoring ourselves to the natural rhythms of life, as we make each trip around the sun, weaves a basket of comforting support to hold our whole life experience. These internal anchors have the power to live inside of us in a way that can never be separated; to offer tremendous strength even in adversity; bring joy in times of sorrow; be the familiar inside chaos – what a gift to our children.

The most joyful way, I have found, to grow roots in an untethered world is through celebration. Our commitment to celebration as a way of honoring the passage of time creates something so much richer than we can see the first year; it grows as we return year after year. Even just a sprinkling of intention to each season can create a touchstone for our families, even in our busy lives.

As we enter this time of year that seems to be overwhelmingly busy with celebration I invite you to take a moment and pause. Pause and feel into what is most dear to your heart; what traditions bring warmth to your soul? What song, food, act of giving, really feels like home to you? How can you anchor these elements in your family tradition so that they will live forever in the hearts of your growing children?

This is a process of bringing more intention, not becoming more harried with a long string of to-do lists. The key is in returning year after year to the same sweet and simple way of celebrating. The winter season is a perfect time to prepare for the next trip around the sun with deliberate intention paid to the growing of roots, roots of celebration and tradition.

As the days become darker there is a natural turning inward, sometimes even mistaken for sadness or depression, and we begin to pull away, to hibernate a bit, to be more introspective.

I find that taking a moment with the new calendar each year helps me stay on track and to celebrate without adding stress to my life. The celebrations you choose to really honor as your touchstones may be faith based, or may be based on the wheel of the year and the natural seasons, the solstices and equinoxes, or a combination. What treasures might be unburied if you were to allow this introspection to show you what wants to be honored as you make your way through each of the seasons to come.

In our family, Winter solstice is celebrated around the fire ring with intentions of what’s to come as the daylight begins to lengthen. Summer solstice is celebrated in the berry brambles or peach trees, reveling in the juicy sweetness and sun-shining afternoons of summer. The equinoxes are both marked in the garden or farm with intentional planting in spring and harvest celebration in fall. There are, of course, many other family traditions we hold near and dear to our hearts: a favorite song to sing while building our annual gingerbread house, a beloved cookie that brings back all the sights and sounds of chapters past, and ancestors who have passed.

The point is not to get too complicated, it’s too honor what is really near and dear to your heart by building into our life these reminders to slow down long enough to celebrate the passage of time, and the transitions from one season to the next. We are creating ways to illustrate our belonging in this world so that we may feel at home, wherever we are, throughout all the seasons of life.

Feeling rooted to place here on earth can feel downright impossible in these modern times. Life is busy, we are plugged in to multiple digital devices most of the day, our homes are lit with artificial light so that we hardly notice the lessening daylight or the waning moon. Yet, with just a bit of awareness we can bring this connection to our greater belonging back into our consciousness. Anchoring ourselves to the natural rhythms of life through celebration provides a sense of belonging, of being at home, within the greater world. Our intentional honoring of specific points throughout the seasons strengthens our children to walk with the stability of a well-rooted oak tree, even as they fly their first solo, in an untethered world.

About the author

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Mariah Joy