This is, essentially, a re-post of something I wrote last year. It’s about how the holidays are not always the bringers of joy we hope and wish they would be. Sometimes, the holidays are awful because we are grieving or carrying something difficult in our hearts. I will tell you – this is the first holiday season in 5 years I haven’t held some piece of my FF in my mind or my heart [yeah, took me that long to get over a man I knew for 20 months. I will tell that story some other time].
What I want to remind you all of is that the holidays are hard, for a variety of reasons. And the Winter Solstice – the longest, darkest day of the year – is a great time to just sit with all the darkness of our lives and let it be. It is a great time to get a glass of whiskey (or, your fave drinky-poo), feel the dark feelings, and let it all out. Nothing to be ashamed of; in fact, I believe it is one of the most honest, courageous things we can do.
And I believe it is in accepting what is truly in our hearts- dark and difficult as it may be – that we make space for healing and grace to find us.
So, here’s the post- if it touches something in you, I am grateful.
Big love, ladies-
Joanna :: xoxo
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The house was dark, but warm.
They’d all gone to bed.
I stayed up- finished the dishes, put the laundry away, and tidied.
I moved slowly and felt my whole body move with each task.
I made a cup of tea to wind down with.
I turned on the tree lights, but kept the room dark.
Pulled a few pillows together and made myself comfy as I sat.
I put on the playlist.
And I cried.
I let the small, weepy noises escape my mouth.
Felt the big, warm tears well at my eyelids.
And let them slip down my cheeks.
No Kleenex. This was (and is) a winter ritual of letting go.
Letting go is a messy affair, and I respect the mess- it is necessary.
I let the tears fall and my make-up drown and I do not reach for anything.
This is my time with myself.
I let the feelings of loss fill my chest.
I think about words I should have said, or not said.
Unfulfilled wishes (some repeatedly).
Boundaries I did not want to make, but had to (for safety and sanity).
I grieve for what I really won’t get back.
During the Surge years, I spent three of these rituals crying for what I so deeply wanted but knew I couldn’t have. Laugh-crying for stupid things I’d done. Letting myself feel the desire and the connection – fully, so fully I thought I would break – and then letting it go. Letting it go again…again…
I give myself this night, this ritual, every year.
Because it’s easier to feel the melancholy just now.
To find the dark and, instead of running, to be held by it.
I give myself this ritual because sometimes a woman needs the dark and the quiet so deeply and desperately. The dark and the quiet nourish us better than food, sometimes.
I give myself this ritual so that I can honestly wear my joy. If my grief sits atop my joy, well…everyone knows it, don’t they? An authentic woman cannot really hide- those who love her, feel her.
I give myself this ritual so that I can see – as kindly as possible – what I’ve done and where I’ve travelled, and what remains to be held and loved and healed.
I give myself this ritual because sometimes the holidays are a mess. Overwhelm and family expectations and budgets and travel feel like so much paper + tape + cardboard at my feet. It is okay to sit amongst the mess, exhausted, and cry.
I give myself this ritual because I need it.
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I don’t know if you need the dark, or a place to cry during the holidays. But if you do- take it. Find a safe, quiet space. Light a candle, put on the lights, make the darkness such that you can feel held by it. Find music if you like (I wrote my own list below). And let your feelings have the space they need to finally be released, to find their way out of your head + heart + body and out into the night.
Winter Solstice is a great time to do this ritual. But any other night that feels right works, too. I pretty much just wait for the feeling and do it then – different day every year.
We easily forget that this dark time of year is exactly the season for letting go. The next year will arrive soon, and this letting go makes space within us for what wants to grow and guide us.
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:|:|: Holiday Ritual PlayList :|:|:
‘River’ / Sarah McLachlan / Wintersong
‘Wintersong’ / Sarah McLachlan / Wintersong
‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’ / Sarah McLachlan / Wintersong
‘Song for a Winter’s Night’ / Sarah McLachlan / Wintersong
‘Glasgow Love Theme’ / Love Actually soundtrack
‘White Christmas’ / Otis Redding / Love Actually soundtrack
‘Prayer of St. Francis’ / Sarah McLachlan / Rarities, B-Sides, and Other Stuff, Vol. 2