Dec 30, 2010

Hidden Week

Christmas is a lot like relatives coming to visit - much anticipated, a day or two of profound and explosive Joy, then a huge sigh of relief when they leave. The week between Christmas and New Years is the hidden gem of the holidays; truly "the most wonderful time of the year" if we settle into it right.

It's different than other school breaks and times off. Spring break there's camps and skiing and a restless call to escape after a long winter. May long weekend is the start of camping season, or our annual Quaker gathering, or time to plant the garden. Summer begs for camping and adventure. But at this cold dark time of the year, the loudest call is that of the fireplace saying to warm up and hunker down.

With the exception of an ill-advised 7:30am boxing day trip to Future Shop, we didn't shop. Didn't work. Didn't cook any more extravagant treats. There were no overly-tempting community events to lure us off the land. Friends were away, cousins already visited, colleagues also away and Very few emails to lure us into cyber-escape. Nothing but time and space new toys and us.

Each day we picked a different part of the house or yard and cleaned, gleaned, cleared, culled and reorganized. Removing the excess and clutter of another year passed; starting the new year with a feeling of openness and renewal.

Each day we played - riding the new bike, hanging the tire swing, opening the new games. Popped popcorn and watched Charlie Brown Christmas. Lit fires and smooched. Played piano, sang, listened to music, danced.

Each day we worked a bit toward next year - 3 trips to the beach to collect seaweed for the garden, 2 cords of firewood cut and stacked for next winter, multiple floorplans drafted for the basement, rental suite addition almost done, bikes tuned up and ready for school.

And each day we had room to dream. Looked back on a year of purpose and growth, reevaluated where we've come and who we've become and what that means for the coming year.

As our family has breathed this collective sigh of relief and rejuvenation, we've slowed down and circled closer together. More hugs, less conflict. No requests for playdates or outings or treats. The children intuit what we adults have to consciously work to create and accept - that of all the gifts of Christmas, a week off to just be together is the most cherished and sacred.

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