Twas the Night Before Solstice

We generally celebrate the winter solstice in a few ways, but I’m looking for ideas to add to our list.

On the shortest day of the year, December 21, we try to focus our celebration on food and on light.

We try to wake before dawn and walk the neighborhood with flashlights to greet the faraway sun. We also do this after dinner so we can help the sun get stronger for the next day. Every bit of light helps the sun get the idea of coming closer, bigger, and warmer, right?

During the day of the solstice we make and hang pine cone feeders for the birds and squirrels (shortest day means less time for them to find food). We bring food and toys to the animals at the local shelter. And we bake throughout the day and eat our warm goodies outside. A short, cold day means we need as much vitamin D as the sun can dole out.

And because Spouse and I agree we want to spread the gifts as much as we can through December, we exchange a few gifts on Winter Solstice. The small stuff comes during Hanukkah, other small stuff in Christmas stockings. Our real gift, if there is one, comes on Solstice.

So that’s it. Walk with lights, give animals food, bake, and exchange gifts.

Feels a bit anemic, though for a day that needs some extra warmth. Do you have something special for solstice (or Christmas Eve, for we’ll willing steal from that similarly “on the verge of” December holiday)? Anything you think we should add to our Solstice traditions?

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Holiday gifts

Hey, there.

I haven’t posted in forever because I’m crazy busy.

But I have something for you. A gift, perhaps.

Go to HealthyStuff.org and check out the toys you’re going to give the small people in your family. Or use it to check the stuff you’d really rather donate to charity, under the guise of making room for new toys by getting rid of the old.

Our government and our corporations do a really horrible job of making sure we can buy things that won’t hurt us. At least one major company has resolved not to use carcinogenic, hormone-disrupting chemicals in products for children. Good for them. But there is arsenic and lead and PBDEs and PVC in a lot of the stuff you or your loved ones can buy, gift, use, and enjoy this time of year.
Toxic phones, toxic car seats, toxic household products, toxic sunscreen, and toxic makeup and shampoo.

Some of the data is old, and a lot of new toys aren’t on the Healthystuff.org reports. But still. Do what you can. Nobody wants to give their niece a toxic piece of chemical waste for Winter Solstice. Right?

Find some healthier alternatives at Safe Mama. Her cheat sheets will help you find safer toys, lunch gear, backpacks, bug repellent, and more.

Be safe out there. It’s a gross mess of lead-tainted wrapping paper and tape and poison-PVC tinsel and lead-filled holiday lights out there.

It’s still an awful lot of fun though. Happy holidays, and enjoy all the fair trade gelt and organic candy canes, and whole-wheat winter solstice gingerbread you can eat!

Tis the season. In Berkeley.

Know why I love living in Berkeley? Because everyone this morning around town is wishing each other a Happy Winter Solstice.

It is, after all, the next holiday. And an obvious one, since children all over town are up well before dawn because the damned planet is conspiring to remind us how completely in control physics is and parents are not. I’m hoping the solstice is soon because I want my sunrise back to sometime before lunch. Channukah’s almost over. Christmas is almost a week away. Next up? Solstice. And around here, it is another excuse to be nice to each other. It’s not L.A. or Boston at the CheeseBoard, I can tell you that. It’s friendly happy time. You’d think all these secular humanists actually treated people with respect despite their blatant heathen lifestyle.

Happy Winter Solstice!