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Christmas, our way

Draco, Mini-Me and I were determined that we were only giving a nod to traditional Christmas this year, and we accomplished it. Here is a little share of how our day went down.

I forgot to turn off my weekday morning alarm all week, so even though there’s been no point, an alarm has woke me up at 6 am, including today.

Around 7 am, we woke Mini-Me so that she could open her new (and approved of) boyfriend’s gifts via Skype. We all sat around the table and watched (she got gifts from us on Yule last Friday).

After that was over, we went in search of an open store, but came up empty handed. Mini-Me spotted an IHop though, and offered to buy breakfast, so we stopped, beginning our first new Christmas day tradition.

We laughed, we ate too much, we had wonderful iced mocha coffees, passed food around the table and made too much noise. It was great!

By then, Draco and I were running on too little sleep and full bellies, so we headed home to nap and figure out what to do with the rest of the day.

When we got up, Draco was out of Mt. Dew, so he suggested trying to find something open again. Corner stores are open on Christmas, so armed with his 2-liter and a few 20 oz drinks, we hit the road with no destination in mind.

We ended up in Georgia (we live in southern SC) in some quaint little towns where we saw stuff like this

And this

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A windmill decked out in lights.

We stopped at a lake and took a walk around, allowing me my first boost from moving water away from the house

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We crossed the Savannah River twice

And Mini-Me chilled in the back on her phone

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Even Dutchess was relaxed

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After three hours, we finally made it home. I think Mini-Me enjoyed the change from the normal hustle and bustle (and stress – the cops got called at my ex’s family’s Thanksgiving, and that kind of crap is common over there), and I know Draco and I did.

On our way in, we did a round through the cemetary at the end of our street where many Union and Confederate soldiers are buried, along with many much older graves no one tends anymore. We gave holiday greetings to “the forgotten” and felt a wave of embracing energy as we left.

It was dark, foggy, and raining, so I can’t be certain, but I’m sure I caught a glimpse of outlines in the rear-view mirror when I tapped my brakes. A longer press revealed nothing but lonely markers in the mist.

The food portion hasn’t happened yet, but will soon (it was supposed to be a Yule dinner, but we were on the road bringing Mini-Me home that day, so it was put off).

Mini-Me starts volunteering at the Equine Rescue tomorrow, and I need to go grocery shopping, so tomorrow will be another busy day.

Hope everyone in Blogland enjoyed their holiday and is ready to make the New Year incredible, magickal and unforgetable!

Blessings,

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A Very Pagan Christmas – Exploring Phases

As I’ve mentioned before, I had a very Christian upbringing until I was 12. I have been saved (more than once) and was even Baptised as an adult. We celebrated a very traditional holiday season.

Now that I’m an adult without many family ties, what is the holiday shaping up to be like at our house?

I decided around Thanksgiving that I wasn’t going to celebrate Christmas, that we would celebrate Yule, and that was it.

As the Yuletide season closed in, we put up our Yule-tree, which looks suspiciously like a Christmas tree.

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Planning the dinner menu, which was supposed to be held on Yule but we’ll be spending 5 hours in the car tomorrow picking up Mini-Me — so it’s looking more like Sunday, it was a unanimous decision that it would stay the same since traditional Christmas foods and traditional Yule foods are pretty much the same.

Gifts between Draco and I were small and exchanged today. Mini-Me will get hers when we get home tomorrow night, on Yule.

So, what’s so different other than the date?

Not much, actually. If the wind dies down (it’s really going here right now) we plan to have a bonfire and a small, informal ritual. That’s pretty much the only difference.

Much of our religion is like though since many Christian traditions and symbols were absorbed from the Pagan cultures when they were attempting to convert them to Christianity. (Ever asked yourself what dying and hiding eggs and bunny rabbits had to do with the resurection of Christ? They don’t. Those are Ostara/Eostra customs). Just like decorating a tree doesn’t have much to do with Christ’s birth.

But I digress.

Next year, I plan to take Yule in a more rustic direction, but I just didn’t have the financial means to buy stuff this year. Maybe between now and then I will think up some creative ideas for incorporating more Yule traditions.

What is Yule/Christmas looking like at your house?

Blessings,

Raven Moon

Reflection

I awoke this morning to a layer of frost covering everything my eyes touched and it reminded me that in spite of the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having, that the Winter Solstice is only a week away.

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The days following the Solstice, leading into January, is the time Draco and I normally celebrate Yule, although we haven’t truly celebrated in years.

At my friend B’s urging, we finally put up a small tree last weekend that she sent from her Mom’s house, insisting we use it since her mom passed last month and she leaves today for Switzerland and then Italy, to spend the holiday with her daughter and grandchildren. Before that, my only concession to the holiday season had been a table cloth she insisted I take.

Draco knows I’m trying to reclaim our holidays now that Mom is gone and Mini-Me is grown, but he also knows how hard this year is for me. He is following my lead, listening to every word, and trying to make it easier. I appreciate him for this all the more because being attentive isn’t normally his strong suit. He’s used to me being an independant, strong and assertive woman – at least in our home and marriage. He doesn’t really know what to do with the uncertainty he’s seen in me the last few years. To be honest, I really haven’t known what to do with it either.

As we finished putting up the tree last weekend, which was just a string of lights and a star on top, I mentioned that it looked a little bare without decorations, so last night, he snuck off and bought 2 boxes of ornaments (all our Yule decorations are in storage 2-1/2 hours away).

I had also mentioned recently how I missed the smell of oils in the house (I’m an oil burner junkie), so when we stopped at a store and a lady was selling oils from the trunk of her car in the parking lot, he bought a bottle and got her number so that I will have a steady connection for my oil addiction.

Another thing about this time of year is that as we moved past Samhain (Halloween), we entered the dark half of the year. A time when the harvest is nearly done, sunlight begins to loose its strength, nights get longer and the cold begins to creep in.

At Yule, we are entering the heart of the cold and the dark. It’s a time when activity is limited and families gather around the fire to share stories, memories and to reflect on the passing seasons.

For me, it’s a time of reflecting on my personal harvest from the year and when I attempt to plan better for next year, so that the harvest will be plentiful.

As I reflect, I see that we weren’t really prepared last year and because of it, I am still scrambling trying to lay in supplies for the barren months we now face. There is no doubt that this winter will be a difficult one, but I know we will manage somehow, just as we have in winters past.

I also know that I have learned some very valuable lessons, especially about planning for the lean months.

While I own that our planning could have been better, I refuse to give myself too hard of a time for it this year. This time last year, things were falling apart fast at my parent’s house. We were blind to the fact that Mom had discovered a lump in her abdomen that she would announce to the family after the New Year in January. We were looking for our own place and trying to stay close enough for me to help with Mom without having to live there. We were planning, but Mom’s annoncement in January would throw my family, and my life, into a tail-spin no one was prepared for and all my plans would fall apart at my feet as I tried to help my family while loosing my mom.

That is something I had no way, and no opportunity, to plan for.

Now, it’s just me and Draco. My family is pretty much non-existant with the exception of Mini-Me, Chicklet and a few friends that have clung to my side through it all.

Moving two and a half hours away was “planned”, literally, in a week. When we got here, we didn’t even have a home to come to and stayed in hotels for nearly 3 weeks. My health had gone downhill, especially my mental health, while I spent the last 3 years trying to take care of everyone but myself.

My spiritual life suffered so much that I’ve begun to redefine it and what I want from it. I don’t believe that I could have honestly prepared us, or even myself, for what the last year had in store, so I chalk it up to one of life’s many hard lessons and move forward. We will get through this. I will get through this.

In the last six months, I haven’t always felt certain of that. Loosing my mom has been an experience, and a pain, unlike any other. I have learned so much, so fast, about the woman my mother really was. I have been forced to see our relationship for what it really was. It has been one of the most difficult times of my life, but I have survived.

My family, that I always thought was so integral in my life, has treated me as if I were disposable, and it nearly broke me completely, but I have survived, and what’s more, is that I have learned.

I know now that I can make it without them. I know that with only myself to answer to, I can make the decisions that need to be made. I know that my life should be what I make it, not what others choose for me. And? I know that no matter what life throws at me, I will survive that, too.

Blessings,
Raven Moon