This is a bit of different post for Christmas Eve day. I wrote it last week but didn't have space during the week to publish it. It's a bit wordy. If you don't have time to read it today save it for later in the week. I still want to publish it today because, like the title says - it's my Christmas card for you.
I plan to publish some photo posts this week if it feels good to do so, i.e.: if I have the time and blog-worthy photos to share.
Have you noticed that kids love snow? Always. Adults love the beauty of the first few flakes, but after that most snow is seen as a big bother. Why? Because it slows us down. It makes us less productive.
Of course most adults, including myself, don't see all the opportunity for fun that the snow offers. This is one thing I appreciate about Damien so much. His enthusiasm for winter sport helps this Canadian girl bloom where she's planted.
Snow and its unpredictable nature complicates our attempts at perfectly orchestrating our lives and our schedules.
And when we live in a society where people are always on the go - buying, consuming, rushing - this complication means, gasp, decreased productivity. Productivity is a god in our society.
But productivity is not our god. And this is one of the reasons we are working so hard to build our livelihood at home. Because more than productivity, more than financial security even (that's a hard one for me to write), we value freedom.
Freedom to be who we want to be and to live our family life according to our values, not someone else's.
And that is what I have loved so much about this month of December. While there is much crazy making "out there" we are free to choose our own path. And it has been beautiful. (Events in the world-at-large have not been so beautiful and for that I have mourned also.)
We love the freedom to ski when the snow is newly fallen. To take a nap in the middle of the day when we're worn down and tired. To educate our children for their mission instead of the standardized test.
Our daily tasks, and there are many, are dictated by the season and our body's needs.
Where we live the natural world is calling us to slow down. It even shows us how to do it. Blankets of snow, longer nights, the quiet of the winter woods. It speaks rest.
And what are the messages of our consumer culture during this holiday (Holy Days) month? Buy, shop, rush, go places.
I get the spirit of holiday cheer. I understand the need to gather with friends and family to keep vigil during darkening days. I understand community festivities and enjoy them. Our spirits need that, like our bodies need the rest of winter.
What I don't understand is why people are so perplexed by their recurring illnesses, constant emotional fatigue and overall blech they feel during this time of year when they continue to ignore nature's signals. (Their attempts to meet those emotional and spiritual needs with refined sugar don't help matters.)
These feelings are the natural consequence of always fighting nature. The nature without and the nature within.
I realize that most people cannot simply extricate themselves from society (nor do they want to). But if your values are different from the culture at large or even your extended family and community, you will exhaust yourself - physically, spiritually, emotionally - forever trying to fill a mold that doesn't fit.
The misalignment of your core values with your actions can be defined as incongruence. Where your reality is not in harmony with your inner compass.
I think that the North American holiday season (I can't speak for other cultures), falling as it does during nature's rest cycle, accentuates this incongruence even more.
And it's not like we can't party during rest times. We are spending this week with family and friends. We're feasting a bit, eating lots of farm veggies, and of course skiing. This feels good. This feels right during the darkest days of the year.
What doesn't feel good is when there's no rest. When it's non-stop go. When you're expected to give gifts. When there is way too much sugar and not enough nutrition week upon week.
What doesn't feel good is ignoring nature and ignoring your body.
We will not treat our bodies as machines expecting continual output at a steady rate all year. We will not ignore our bodies need for rest in fighting winter infections and disease (so far so good). We will not medicate our emotional and spiritual needs with sugar (a morning cup of coffee - that's another matter entirely!)
We will not give in to society's pressure to buy love, buy sex, buy affection, buy celebration, buy memories, buy education, buy security, buy Christmas.
Drawing your own line in the sand (or snow as it may be) surrounding Christmas and your life may be hard, in fact it may be the hardest thing you ever do. But if the life you're living is not who you want to be - you can change that.
I repeat, it may be the hardest thing you ever do - changing your diet, changing your work, changing your family life, changing your expectations.
You will wonder if you are depriving your children, you may be misunderstood by family and friends, you will have to sacrifice something, and you will question if you're living it right. All of this to grab hold of the life you want.
I'm not saying you have to re-work your whole life to live in congruence - where your actual living reflects your core values. You may, but the first steps are easier than that. It starts with saying no to some things, saying yes to others. Boundaries and freedom.
I'm not going to prescribe a course of action for your life or your holiday season because honestly, if I read one more post on how to simplify Christmas, see one more recommendation for Amazon Prime, read anything along the lines of "five steps for staying healthy during the holidays", or another "something to wear, something to read, something they want" gift formula I may just hurl my vegan, sugar-free nog. (Fabulous nog recipe by the way.)
Although I'm loathe to recommend a formula, I will say this - nature teaches us something and we are natural beings. We'd do better to tune into that instead of the news reports, internet chatter and glossy magazine spreads.
You've seen this before. I got it at Allume in my goodie bag from Be Small Studios and it may just be Divine how perfectly this piece of art expresses my message for the year of 2012. A message I didn't know was mine to share until I really started living it.
And as we bring this year to a close this is the message I want to leave you with. My holiday card that is suitable whatever you happen to celebrate and believe.
Be free my friend. Free to live and love according to the purposes you were created for. You, a super-natural being.