Happy Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is upon us again, which means we've reached our longest nights of the year and will now begin our path toward sunnier days. Or, as was said in last year's Doctor Who, A Christmas Carol:
"On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact midpoint, everybody stops, and turns, and hugs, as if to say 'Well done. Well done, everyone! We're halfway out of the dark.' Back on Earth, we called this Christmas, or the Winter Solstice."

The Winter Solstice has long been a traditional time for reflection. It's a great reminder to gather family or friends to look back over the past 12 months and think about what's to come in new year. In my house, we celebrate Winter Solstice with a simple activity which has become a special family tradition.

This activity doesn't take much time (20 to 30 minutes), which makes it easy to fit into the busiest schedules. It's also easy to modify it to create your own unique family tradition. Here are the basic steps:

  • To setup, we are each given three sheets of paper. A large bowl is placed in the middle of the table, along with a set of colored pencils to share. 
  • On the first piece of paper, we each draw a picture of something we accomplished during the past year. It can be a small thing or something large. It can be one thing or several. The drawings don't have to be perfect -- ours tend to be funny stick figures and guessing what they are is half of the fun! 
  • When we are all finished drawing, we take turns showing our pictures and describing our proud moments. Everyone listens and congratulates the others. Often the discussion leads to remembering a few more accomplishments we had forgotten. 
  • The second piece of paper is for letting go. Everyone thinks back over the past year and writes down something that made us feel bad. Maybe someone is having trouble letting go of a mistake or a hurtful comment from someone else. Or maybe it's feeling bad about a self-perceived shortcoming like falling behind on homework, gaining weight or not accomplishing a goal.
  • This paper is not shared out loud. Instead, we have a moment of quiet reflection then symbolically leave the bad feelings in the past by tearing the papers into small pieces. Now that the kids are older, we take the papers outside and burn them. (Their favorite part!) 
  • On the third piece of paper, we all draw a picture of something we would like to do in the next year. It can be a goal or just something we are looking forward to, like a vacation or special event. 
  • When we're finished, we go around the table showing our plans for the future. By the time we are finished, we are each left with images of pride in our past actions and hope for the future. We have also thought about past hurts and let them go together. 

Our Winter Solstice celebration doesn't involve presents or piles of candy, but it's a fun family tradition that we look forward to year after year.

Happy Holidays!

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