Yule Goat_Johan Hansson
Courtesy of Flickr/Johan Hansson

Pretty sure the gods kill a kitten every time I enter a shopping mall, hence my commitment is even stronger this year to avoid that place altogether. Thankfully, it hasn’t been difficult since our friends and family are far more interested in time together than the swapping of stuff.

We’re not Scrooges, by any stretch, but we have once again declared a Hundred Dollar Holiday, to use Bill McKibben’s term. (In the interest of transparency, we whoop it up and spend $200.) The presents we give will be homemade or handmade, and there will be plenty of dinners and gatherings with loved ones — which is the thing that most fills me with joy and gratitude these days.

It’s still been a bit crazy, trying to finish up everyone’s goodies — seeing as how I’m dumb, I picked a particularly time-consuming recipe for the majority of our gifts — so I’ve been looking for ways to relax and re-center. Last week’s Root Simple podcast, featuring Radical Homemaker Shannon Hayes, had just the answer.

Her family celebrates the twelve days of Yule, kicking things off with a simple meal on the winter solstice. The idea of honoring the darkest night of the year, and then welcoming the return of the sun, is one that deeply resonates. Winter should be a time of rest and renewal, if we were to more closely follow the rhythms of nature, and that re-connection to the earth is something worth cultivating. And frankly, I like the idea of extending the merriment after Christmas, when I’m just starting to feel festive without all the stress and chaos.

So tonight, Brad and I will share a meal made entirely with ingredients we or our friends have grown — and maybe I can talk him into an early tasting of our peapod wine for such a special occasion. Then each day until January 1, we’ll give ourselves a few minutes to play, to explore nature, to be still, and most importantly, to create new traditions that reflect our values.

And who knows. The yule goat might even make an appearance.

Thanks, Jim, for summing it all up perfectly:

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