This has been a season of celebrations. Mine kicked off back in October with my sister’s wedding. I feel like I’ve been running to catch up ever since.
For many people the holiday season starts with Thanksgiving. What made ours special this year was that my daughter officially took over the cooking. I haven’t made a Thanksgiving meal at Thanksgiving for years. I learned back in my 20’s that it didn’t matter what I did, my mother was going to do it too, “just in case I didn’t make enough” or because she wasn’t sure I would make “hers”. So over the years I’ve made “harvest meals”, usually in September and October, that look a lot like Thanksgiving.
Karina put her foot down. If Grandma wasn’t going to cook then Grandma wasn’t allowed to cook. Now that she’s in her 80’s that was a little easier for my Mom to agree. Karina also recognized my Mom’s need to make a contribution so she raided Mom’s pantry for ingredients and asked them to bring a couple of loaves of Dad’s bread. The meal was a hit. Everyone took home lots of leftovers. Everyone also agreed that the portions my Mom used were probably triple what the current crowd needs. Maybe next year we can cut back on how much food. (To put this into perspective Karina already cut the appetizers and deserts down to about 1/3 of what they used to be. But then several people brought deserts they’d been gifted so the quantity of sweets available was not actually diminished.)
I’ve started filling my calendar with dates for holiday parties. I’ve sent Orion off on his Weekend Venture with Reach for Resources. (He had to come home early and there was a late night in the ER. He’s fine, but my “weekend off” did not feel like a break.) There are dinner and lunch dates to catch up with friends. There’s a lot of hustle bustle that goes with the season.
Even the “Celebration of Life” event that I attended had a holiday atmosphere. One of my childhood friend’s mother died at 90. A good, full life and a testament to family ties goes a long way towards making a somber occasion a bit more festive. As is often the case, weddings and funerals become a setting to “catch up” with people you wouldn’t otherwise see. There were plenty of stories about “back in the day”.
The best celebration (at least so far) was curling up on my daughter’s couch for the Gilmore Girls marathon. We couldn’t watch on the day Netflix released the new episodes, so we planned a date. The series was an important touchstone for us during her teen years.
It gave us common ground. It opened the door for conversations about difficult topics. There was a lot of “if you ever do that” or “please react like this and not like that”. Karina made dinner. We opened a bottle of wine. There were brownies. It was a long evening, but very lovely and special.
What kinds of celebrations do you hold dear in this season?
Gratitude is difficult when the world seems to be falling down around our heads. It is difficult to find gratitude in crisis. It is difficult to find gratitude when we feel threatened. It is difficult to find gratitude under stress. But it is especially during these challenges when we need gratitude the most.
Practicing gratitude is uplifting. Even seeing people who seem to have less than we do being grateful can be inspiring. Knowing what we have to be grateful for is like finding a lifeline in a troubled sea. When we most need something to hang on to, an active practice of gratitude gives us just that.
Thanksgiving is a highly charged holiday. There are the family dynamics. Mixed families, blended families, new relationships create conflict over who gets to be with who when. There is finding table talk that doesn’t push buttons, make judgements, and generate huge arguments. There is the food both, expectations and execution, and issues of tradition versus lifestyle.
Thanksgiving is also highly charged politically. Not just with the family table, but the actual nature of the holiday itself. What we celebrate is the coming together of the European settlers and the Native Americans. The reality of that relationship is not nearly as peaceful or generous. Even now at Standing Rock Native Americans on their land with their supporters are being treated in ways that have the United Nations, the ACLU, and Amnesty International making statements against our government’s actions.
I am reminded again about the power of gratitude, and so I write reminding you. Let’s all take a moment, many moments, this week and dig deep into the things we do have to be grateful for.
I am grateful for all the people who work peacefully and diligently to preserve my civil rights, my breathable air, and my drinkable water.
I am grateful for all the people who work to ensure I have good, healthy food available to me especially all winter long.
I am grateful for all the people who are actively kind to others, who help those in need, who work with populations (in prisons, the mentally ill, impoverished families etc.) that I am not equipped to help.
I am grateful for the small opportunities I have to do my part to bring kindness, and caring, and loving support into the world.
I am grateful for the support I receive (from family, friends and strangers) just to be able to function in this world.
I am grateful to have a platform and readers who support my work. – Thank you!
What are you grateful for?
There is a movement suggesting that people who are willing to be supportive of blacks, hispanics, LGBTQ, women and other communities being targeted by Trump inspired racists wear a safety pin to indicate that they hold a safe space.
There is a backlash from those communities. There is anger that privileged whites think that just wearing the safety pin IS supportive. It’s too little, too late. Wearing a safety pin indicates intention, which frankly doesn’t count. There are plenty of “well-intentioned” people who are happy to “mansplain” away the concerns of these threatened populations. There are plenty of “well-intentioned” people who are sure they have the “solution”. There are plenty of “well-intentioned” people who wonder why we can’t all just get along.
There is also a backlash from the racists (who resent being called racists because they feel that they are entitled to define what that term means – and it can’t be them because they are “good people”). There is an “If you’re not with me you are against me” mentality. There is harassment, from a meme being generated that that safety pin is a diaper pin and we’re all crying babies to actual physical confrontations.
I know people in all of these communities and I hear them. Because I hear them I recognize that I can’t just “join the bandwagon” I need to make an active choice. If I choose to wear the pin what does that mean? If I choose not to wear the pin what does that mean?
I choose to wear the pin. Here’s what it comes down to for me:
- Wearing the pin is a visible identification of some kind of support. For a community that often feels very isolated just seeing someone making that small an effort can make a difference.
- Wearing the pin does not entitle me to anything. It doesn’t entitle me to respect from these communities. It doesn’t instantly bestow understanding. It doesn’t in itself create the “safe space” it’s meant to indicate.
- Wearing the pin means I have an obligation to open my eyes and increase both my awareness and willingness to intervene. That means more than filming an arrest or calling someone out on foul language. That means being aware of the clerk keeping an eagle eye on the black woman in the store with me. That means being aware of the cashier happy to chat with me after demanding identification from the hispanic man in front of me. That means being aware of the stink eye look being given to the gay couple in the restaurant. That means being willing to share a seat on the bus with a homeless man. That means knowing when to shut my mouth and when to open it.
- Wearing the pin means I am willing to be a target. It means I am willing to be a target from the communities that I want to support. A safe space means a safe space for them to vent their anger, frustration and fear. A safe space means I may be “harassed” for being a white woman who thinks wearing a pin is enough. A safe space for the people being targeted means that I may be exposed to feelings that are unpleasant, uncomfortable and I may not feel safe. Too bad for me.
- Wearing the pin means I am willing to be a target for the racist backlash. I will be perceived as being part of the communities they threaten: the disabled, those with racial differences, those with non binary gender identities etc. I will be putting myself in the position of being willing to accept some of the harassment those groups experience every day.
- Wearing the pin means wearing the pin. It is privilege to chose to wear the pin or not. The people in these groups do not have that choice. They can’t take off their race, their self identity, their handicaps. They can’t not be targets. Ultimately that is why I must be a target as well. I must wear the pin.
As someone who works with ancestral spirits it is important for me to acknowledge that my ancestors put themselves on the line so that I would have the right to have a voice in how my life would be governed.
In fact everyone in this country has the right to vote because some ancestor put their lives on the line for that right.
If you are a white male landowner you have the right to vote because we fought for independence from hereditary kingship. Right to vote 1776.
If you are a white male who does not own land, but who is strongly in support of states rights when you got the right to vote varied considerably. This was a state by state decision and the last state finally came in almost 100 years after the revolution. Right to vote 1856.
If you are a Native American you pretty much didn’t have the right to vote until you’d been educated away from your people. The boarding school era, where children were ripped from their homes and sent away to school where they were given Christian names and punished for speaking their native languages was from the late 1800 into the 1900’s. Congress granted the right to vote in 1924, but again some states maintained their right to prevent natives from voting and did (despite congress) until after WWII. Right to vote 1957.
If you are female (and I am) you may have relatives born without the right to vote. Women fought for the right to vote for over 70 years. In the musical Hamilton the Skyler sisters are determined to make Jefferson include women in the rewrite. Abigail Adams wrote to her husband “Don’t forget the women.” The suffragettes were beaten, jailed, ostracized and ridiculed. These women were feminists and that word still has degrading implications. Right to vote 1920.
If you are black in this country you are still struggling for your right to vote in some states. Although blacks officially gained the right to vote in 1870 there were many barriers placed to keep them from the polls. Plantation owners intimidated their workers and refused to allow time off or transportation. Polling places required fees (often waived for poor whites and increased for middle class blacks) to vote. There were “intelligence tests” demanded for registration.
The voting rights act of 1965 – which required a filibuster to pass congress – eliminated those discriminatory practices. Unfortunately in 2013 the Supreme Court decided that the voting rights act was no longer relevant or necessary. Some of the contention in this election and much of the concern we hear from the United Nations is because of the indication new versions of Jim Crow voter restrictions are being put into place. Right to vote 1965-2013. Currently depends on State and circumstances.
Immigrants have the right to vote (based on the above factors) when they become citizens of the United States. However, the reality is that at the polls and in registering they need to prove that citizenship. Again this is regulated by the states and that means that many natural born citizens who “look” like immigrants can and are being harassed at the polls. Right to vote requires proof of citizenship.
So please, honor the ancestors and if you have the right to vote exercise that right.
Halloween on a Monday! It’s been a weekend of ghouls and goblins and I’ve still got a lot to do to be ready for the little ones knocking on the door tonight. Of all the scary things we’ve done in the last week I think the top one was voting.
This has been an election season wrought with emotional ups and downs, no matter who you prefer. We have the option of voting early and have found it’s much easier for Orion and me. It feels like a weight off to have it done, although the election results are still a bit Sword of Damocles. I’ll say it again next week – the day before the actual election – but if you have the opportunity, please exercise your right to VOTE!
Karina threw her first big party in the new house. Halloween Housewarming. (Oh, and incidentally her boyfriend’s birthday). It was a smash. She entertained kids, visited with relatives, partied with old friends and stayed up until the wee hours with the dependable hold outs.
I did my part the day before. We shopped and tidied up decorations and got the food prepared to go. She still has most of my chairs. Of course I put in an appearance at the party as well. It was fun to see all the kids all grown up.
Halloween is a mixed bag because it’s also a high holiday. The honoring on the ancestors happens all year round, but at this time of year it is done formally. Sharing remembrances is a little bittersweet, but it can be very heartwarming as well.
Here are a few posts I’ve written in the past about Samhein celebrations.
It’s definitely autumn and this week I’m getting ready for the Women and Spirituality Conference at Mankato State University. I’ve attended this conference in years past (links to old posts at the bottom) and enjoy it for a number of reasons. I find it a great networking opportunity. (too bad I’m so bad at following up on those networking contacts.) The keynote speakers are often both educational and inspiring. I have an opportunity to see people I only see at the conference, and catch up.
I also have the opportunity to present. This year I’m only doing one presentation, and it’s one I’ve done in many different settings. When I submitted the proposal I had a plan to get my next book written and possibly even printed before the event. I went so far as to acquire a space in the vendors room to sell books. That didn’t happen.
I still have books to sell, just not a new one. I will still do a great workshop and practice that whole self-promotion thing, referring folks to my other work. But I won’t have a book on the topic of my workshop. Life has just gotten in the way again.
Which leads me to thinking about how badly I need some resolve in my life. I need to resolve to get back to work on my writing. I need to resolve to be methodical in my attempts to deal with the house (the kitchen project is back at square one due to the bank and the city being unable to come to terms and my furnace isn’t heating). I need to find space to work, to socialize, to write, to keep up with the daily grind. That’s not as easy as it sounds when you don’t have a lot of structure in the schedule.
On the plus side I’m finding that I’m not as interested in the new TV season, even the shows I’ve watched in the past. Mostly that’s because finding the sites to stream the series I like is more complicated. (Hulu no longer carries everything) I’ll take that as a blessing. I know I spend way too much time on the computer, avoiding the things I get on the computer to do. (More Facebook than writing, more YouTube than researching, more gaming community than business networking – I have a talent for distraction.) But that also means that I know where to find the time.
A lot of my issue can be solved by a “just do it” attitude. Hence the need for resolve. As we approach the Wiccan New Year (Halloween/Samhein) it seems like a good time to get these things in hand.
That’s what the workshop I’m doing at the Women and Spirituality Conference is about. I’m due for an updated version of walk the talk. This week is my kickstart. Resolve
After last week’s migraine it was crazy trying to get everything packed and ready for this weekend’s adventure. But it was well worth it. Orion said, repeatedly, “My heart is full.” Mine too.
This weekend we were privileged to attend my sister’s wedding. Andrea and Butch have been together for many years now. We’ve certainly embraced Butch as a member of the family and Andrea has also been welcomed into his. There was a lot of resistance to actually getting married, especially on my sister’s part.
Andrea is a proud, capable, and independent woman. She has been a music teacher since she graduated from college (lifetimes ago). She has trained as an EMT and run the kitchen at a Boy Scout summer camp. She is the music director at her church and plays in the orchestra for many local productions.
Butch is also proud and capable. He built his home himself and continues to putter. He’s worked in design and development as an engineer. He’s traveled the world, served in the military and raised a family that includes an adult child with special needs. (His best man at the wedding.)
This is not a marriage about finding a prince charming or a nursemaid. This is not a marriage about needing someone to take care of things. This is not a marriage about need at all. This is a marriage about sharing. Sharing a life together. Sharing family. Sharing joys and burdens. Sharing service, in the church, community, and in the world. Sharing interests and opportunities to learn new things.
There is nothing more delightful than to attend a wedding where EVERYONE is thrilled to be there. The children and grandchildren on both sides fully support this union. My parents are beaming with joy. As Orion so aptly states, our hearts are full.
Congratulations Andrea and Butch. May you have many, many years of happiness and love to share with each other!
It has been raining on and off all week. That puts more than a little damper into our plans. There is flooding. (We’re fine, but there have been road closings just 10 minutes north of us.) Power has been a little unstable. (I haven’t had long outages, but there have been several rounds of reset the clock.) My allergies, especially mold, have been acting up.
The part that’s hard is that Orion and I had weekend plans that involved being outdoors. The weekend was actually mostly quite lovely. The sky cleared, the sun peeped out it was pleasantly cool, but not cold. All things that make for a great time in the outdoors. Unless you are in a wheelchair.
I struggle to push Orion when we’re “off roading” under the best of circumstances. When the ground is firm, when there aren’t a lot of fallen obstacles or rocks, when the grass is short, when he could push himself for at least a short distance that’s ideal. This weekend, given the amount of rain, was not going to be ideal and could be really horrible.
We skipped through several versions of our plans. We did make an appearance at the Richardson Nature Center. They had an event called Party in the Park. Most of the party was spread out into the park, and not accessible. I got help from a stranger to go up a small hill. We visited the bee keeping exhibit inside. We played with a bull snake, made a seed bomb, and had some sumac popcorn from the Tatanka Truck. Then I was done in.
Our “time in nature” was mostly spent shopping at the co-op. Even there we didn’t load up as much as we often do. Prices are high and the budget is not.
I ended the week on a note of gratitude. We did a ritual for the harvest season. There is a lot of bounty in my world, even if I don’t have full access. It’s good to take some time out to recognize what I do have, to be grateful.
Equinoxes are about balance. It’s the time where the amount of daylight equals the amount of night. The reminder of the season has me working on balance as well. I’ve finally gotten the internet back (knock on wood) and I’m actively trying not to let it absorb all of my time and attention.
I’ve written about balance, and about the fall equinox, many times before this. Sometimes lessons seem like the same things over and over again. But for me the reminders really do help. I still need to be reminded that balance is active, not static. One of the best ways for me to get that visceral understanding is to get on a boat.
Balance is about making sure that the list of things I need to do also includes time for my relationships. I am really bad about initiating contact, making the phone calls, checking in without a schedule. I also forget how much I need that interchange. I need to take time for the good conversations (and the hard ones). I thrive on sharing stories, information, lessons learned and lessons that we are still struggling to incorporate into our daily lives.
Balance is about finding time in between getting dinner on the table and earning enough money to pay the bills so that the floor gets swept and the laundry put away. Balance is about watering the plants, but not too much. It’s about bringing in the tomatoes before they rot on the vine and about drying the peppers before they go to mold.
In such a politically volatile climate balance is finding a way to be of service without overloading. It is about being firm and honest, and still polite. It’s not just the election. It’s the pipeline. It’s the nurses strike. It’s Black Lives Matter. It’s all the shootings, stabbings and bombings. Sometimes it is about shutting out Facebook (the wifi in your home going down is a really effective means of taking a break from the mudslinging).
Balance is about getting enough sleep. (I’ve had too many late night/early mornings in the last month!) It’s about taking the time for real food. (I’m pretty good about that, it’s just that I also try and do 6 other things while I’m eating it.) It’s about being in the moment. Sometimes that means writing things down so that you don’t have to hold them until you need them. Sometimes it means remembering to bring that grocery list with you when you go to the store.
So today I’m filling this blog with photos from sailing with friends. We need more “time out in nature” in our busy lives. We need to enjoy and appreciate our friends. We need to remember balance is active (like being on a boat) not static (like sitting on the ground). Have a happy Equinox!
Previous Fall Equinox posts: