By definition, and expectation... Winter Solstice is the shortest day of light in the year... while the Summer Solstice is the longest. Both were observed and were celebrated by ancient peoples as religious rituals. In Western culture, our celebration centres around Christmas... a shortened up version of its initial high religious celebration marking the birth of Christ... Christ's Mass. Candles were first used to bring light to this dark part of the year in churches and then on fir trees in the home. Today "we live better... (and decorate our trees... homes and yards) ... electrically.
Deb and I had decided before our move to Rockport, that our Christmas celebrations were going to be reshaped dramatically and would be centred closer to home. Time has grown our wee ones into adult and young men and women and they have begun to embrace and create their own traditions... some with their own wee ones now. We will celebrate Christmas here in Rockport simply this year... alone for "the Day"... and by choice. In the past, our Christmas has always centred (as it should)... around the presence of Children... the ritual of Christmas excited morning awakening and gift exchange... and the creation of the traditional Christmas turkey dinner. That... more or less could likely describe the way most homes go about celebrating this event.
Deb and I have declined the generous and thoughtful offers by members on both sides to come for Christmas... so not... "to be alone." My youngest family members, Bryn and Liam live with their mother in Aurora... a six hour journey away near our old home of Hillsdale. Liam the oldest (18 years) has his first job at Cineplex-Odeon... and must be on tap during the first part of the holidays to man his Yogen-Fruz station. So we will be celebrating our Christmas with them later this year from January 2nd through to January 6th... and that's as it should be... still centring upon them... and on their schedule of availability.
We planned very early on, to celebrate with Lisa, Allison and Andrew here in Rockport because all live in and around this area and all would be here to celebrate. We chose December 21st... Winter Solstice as the date to get together and celebrate "The Sherman Christmas." All drove... and drifted safely to Islandsview on the wings of a winter storm... a storm that caused Rockport to be stripped of power for almost twenty-four hours. Talk about throwing a wrench into the party plans! No lights... no stove... no electrical heat... and no "Plan B"! We had agreed to cook together... each bringing a portion to support Allison's agreed upon contribution of the "turkey substitute... Grandma Sherman's beloved and simple to make and yummy Tater Gem Casserole. All brought favourite celebratory "beverages" of choice and Andrew a dessert. Sounds like a makings of a potential flop and disaster... right? Not so!
I luckily had received my delivery of firewood on Thursday and had spent an hour kindling a goodly portion for later use ... when winter might appear. So the heat problem was overcome... when the hearth again became the centre of home activity. I simply fed the hungry fireplace for the entire evening... and I rose before the rest in the morning to rewarm the frigid interior. As Allison suggested: "Just like the pioneer days!"
The food issue was a trickier problem however... given that travel was out of the question because the roads were treacherously snow-covered and icy and the "main course" Tater Gem was out of the question as a "starter" in the game. Luckily, Deb had prepared hors d'oeuvres and two salads in advance... intended to launch every one's appetite before the main course was created on site.
So simply rebuilding the menu around what was possible... adding cheese and various snacky crackers and nuts and lowering the meal expectation happily in unison... the party re assumed its celebratory mood. The planned Christmas candy making and Catan board game was as well replaced by conversation... weaving itself between deep and shallow... evolving at times to giddy and gut -bursting laughter.
In short, a Christmas celebration that could have resulted in a huge flop and disappointment... morphed into mirth and sheer joy.This Christmas will forever be remembered as the "Wintry Solstice" Christmas... a memorable time when Modernity took a step backward and Christmas Past came forward to save the day! Thank you all... Deb, Lisa, Allison and Andrew... The eastern branch of The Sherman Family... for making this Christmas so memorable and special !
Much Peace, Love and continued rich blessings to each of you!
Merry Christmas to ALL!!!!