God Jul. It’s ok to take a break.

It’s two days until the winter solstice (well, in the Northern hemisphere, anyway), and five days to Christmas Eve. Various cable channels are all about Christmas movies. Main streets in my city are lit with non-denominational decorations – white and multi-colored lights on various trees, big bright snowflakes hanging from streetlamps, evergreens in the public areas hold stars and winking bits of color.

Parking lots in shopping areas stay crowded until late. The frenzy of holiday grocery and gift shopping creates an anxious energy and a noticeable lack of “seasonal good will”. Company, school, and extended family holiday doings take extra time out of schedules, increasing the frenetic pace right along with the feelings evoked (whether they be fun, obligation-stress, amusement, energizing excitement, love, or pure painful enduring).

Some folk utterly adore this time of year for exactly that frenetic pace, for seeing friends and family they haven’t seen in a year, for the grand panoply of holiday shopping. Some folk feel the weight of all the social shenanigans, schedulus-interruptus, and the deepening darkness like a bone-crushing slab of obligation. And then, there are all the people along the spectrum between the two. 

Socially, “light” during the Solstice manifests with all the gift shopping, fancy dinners, exchanges of treats, decorating trees, lighting candles, and all the work/family parties that give a framework of community. Companionship. A way to battle the weight of the dark. It’s the dark season, after all, and no matter which religion (if any) you claim as yours the theme of this week of the year is consistently a need for light.

It’s ok to take a break from all the craziness if you need it. Use that lovely concept of hygge: relax just a little and think or read a book or watch a movie or just REST. Sleep extra to fend off the viruses all those adorable germ-carrying children carry around with them. Drink a little tea on the non-party days to counter all those awesome drinks. Spend some time sweating physically (outside, at the gym, with your romantic partner…whatever works) to burn off the excellent treats. Finding a little balance, saying no when you need to, is all ok. Really. Relaxing a little gives you an opportunity to catch your breath and stay healthy in all the ways.

The weeks around the longest night give us a pause in regularly scheduled days between the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Whether you enjoy or loathe this season for the solitude, for family gatherings, for parties and glitz, for gift giving and receiving, for the spectacle: it’s a good time to consider what really matters to you and to your life. And what’s been bothering you: those things you’ve pushed off for the superfun season’s sake.

Shadows are so scary, aren’t they? Creatures live there, in the dim corners of the room untouched by the Christmas Tree lights. Loneliness lurks there, among the deep quiet after the sun goes down. Seasonal depression reaches out from under the bed or the unlit closet. So much of the activity this time of year is attempting to drive the shadows away, but we learn over and over in our lives that facing those fears is the way to kill them. Eleanor Roosevelt said we should do one thing every day that scares us…and change of any kind is uncomfortable. I use this time of year for evaluating my shadows: which ones could be let go? Which ones should be embraced as a healthy part of me, or needs some help to heal and remove? What clutter can I clear? 

Thinking about what to push out and what to pull into your universe when the light returns after the 21st gives you time to toss out the garbage in your head and move forward, because starting on December 22nd the light will come back. The annual pause in time will give way to all the potential of the next year.

Isn’t that what the whole New Year Resolution thing is all about?

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