Join the Celebration
"Ritual and ceremony can bridge our past and our present elegantly, making it possible for folks like you and me to travel
through life, honoring the good and bad times we’ve been through. They can help us become human “well-beings,” ready
to take on more life and liberty and ready to pursue our happiness.- Carl Jung

December brings the beginning of winter with the winter solstice marking the shortest day and longest night of the year.
To the ancient agrarian societies this day symbolized light's victory over darkness with the rebirth of the Sun God infusing
the world with hope. This was a time of celebration, a time to gather together and feast, to renew relationships, to
strengthen the bonds of friendship and family ties.

December still is highlighted with family get-togethers and celebration feasts. Not only does participation in these
traditional gatherings anchor relationships, partaking in holiday celebrations helps us feel connected to our place in society
and gives one a stronger sense of self. A major portion of an individual's memories are based around their holiday
experiences. Who isn't transported back to dinners with their loved ones by the smell of pumpkin pie or baking
gingerbread?

The power of ritual comes from heritage, tradition and most of all something being emblazoned in your brain over time.
Taking part in family rituals protect the individual against a sense of loneliness and uncertainty in daily living as it
transmits shared beliefs of the family group across generations. Through ritual we connect to generations, past and future.

To the ancients, grain was the staff of life and history is laden with stories of harvest deities, mystical feasts and fertility
rites all centered on the growing of grain and the baking of celebration dishes. There is something very rewarding in baking
up a special dish for family and friends and every time an art is learned and practiced it is inherited and infused with new
life for a new generation. Through the art of baking one can reconnect to history and tune into the changing seasons.
Acknowledging the seasons is a simple way to harmonize with the world and to recognize that we are a part of it. So this
month give thanks for the abundance in your life by baking a special treat for a neighbor or a friend. Give it to them along
with the recipe and pass along a linage that weaves back to the beginning of time. Only you can make your life richer and
fill it with meaning. It's the little things that add to your life: that enrich it with memories.

Seasonal observances not only help keep our relationships connected, they help to reconnect us to the natural world. It's
easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and let days, weeks and even months slip by. As John Lennon said,
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”. So make time for seasonal celebrations, set aside a
morning to try out that new recipe. Take a moment to meditate on your blessings. Take in the beauty around you. Rejoice.
Let your heart be glad as you gather your family to you and celebrate knowing life is good.

Since the dawn of civilization December has been a month of celebration, for midway through the month the days stop
becoming shorter as light once again returns to the world. Just after the Solstice, the longest, darkest of these nights, we
celebrate Christmas, a midwinter festival, or modern feast day, where families gather to give gifts to each other and
indulge in good food and merriment. It is important to honor the celebration, to gather with friends and feast. It is at this
time that relationships are renewed, the bonds of friendship and family ties strengthened.

Joining the celebration holds a magic for us all. By recognizing and celebrating holidays and interacting with family,
friends, and our community we acknowledge the seasonal change, attune with the natural tides and acknowledge the
rhythms of life, death and rebirth as we recognize that we are a part of it. Participating in holiday celebrations helps us
feel connected to our place in society. Through ritual we connect to generations, past and future.

It is through ritual that our lives gain meaning.  Carl Jung wrote, "Without meaningful ritual, people suffer. Ritual and
ceremony can bridge our past and our present elegantly, making it possible for folks like you and me to travel through life,
honoring the good and bad times we've been through. They can help us become human; well-beings, ready to take on
more life and liberty and ready to pursue our happiness."

Joining in the celebration contributes to how we see each other and ourselves. A major portion of childhood memories are
based around our individual holiday experiences. Barbara Fiese writes in the Journal of Family that families that celebrate
holidays are more likely to raise kids who have a strong sense of identity, are healthy, have close ties to family members
and succeed in school. Dr. Steven J. Wolin, a clinical professor of psychiatry at George Washington University Medical
School, cites that the power of ritual comes from heritage, tradition and most of all something being emblazoned in your
brain over time. And that family rituals protect the individual against a sense of loneliness and uncertainty in daily living
as it transmits shared beliefs of the family group across generations. Dr. William Dorherty, director of the marriage and
family therapy program at the University of Minnesota, has identified two kinds of rituals in our society. The first is the
traditional secular and religious rituals surrounding holidays, weddings or funerals; the second involve ritual a family or
individual has created to celebrate their life.

Through celebration we give meaning to our lives. As children our lives were sprinkled with small, magical rituals from
nightly prayers, to singing skipping songs, blowing dandelions to blowing out birthday candles. As adults practicing daily
ritual allows us to experience a more magical life. Through ritual we can reprogram the unconscious mind so we have a
different set of expectations about how the world will respond to us. Through ritual we can find our way to the places in
our lives that exist in between the tick-tock of everyday living and the luscious places of dreaming, the magical places that
connect us to the Divine.

This Yule spend some quality time with friends and family. Renew your connection to your tribe. Gather with friends and
let your heart swell with joy. Participate in the celebration and make some new memories. Only you can make your life
richer and fill it with meaning. It's the little things that add to your life. Celebration is part of the human experience.
Acknowledging the seasons is a simple way to harmonize with the world and to recognize that we are a part of it.
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