Annie has a special Christmas book she has carried with her for fifty years or so, with her name scrawled in a child’s handwriting on the inside. It is about a girl finding the star for the top of her Christmas tree with the help of rabbits, owls, and other friends. Cait has a box filled with handmade ornaments, one for every year since her son was born, memories of his growing-up made visible.
When we focus on the star–whatever we want to shine over our holiday season, and the memories–what we want to keep in our hearts forever, then we connect to the spirit of the season. For Annie, the star of wonder has always been the love of the Madonna for her child, and her own personal love for the lights of the holiday tree, the season, and the wood-fire. For Cait, memories of watching with her son as the house grew dark on Solstice Eve, then lighting a single candle and seeing the radiant difference it made, sum up the magic of the season for her.
Most of us want to feel whole, connected to those we love and to the beauty of the planet on which we live. Come and share some of the things Annie and Cait have found that help to translate the Natural Lifestyle into meaningful holidays, from ways to make the senses sing with wonderful aromas and unforgettable tastes, to simple activities and rituals that bring love and peace. We offer them to you from our hearts–and we welcome you to share yours, too!
Homemade Egg Shell Ornaments
These ornaments are just about the most eco-friendly holiday ornaments you can make. Although these ornaments are very fragile, you can reuse them year after year if you handle them with care.
fresh eggs, as many as you want ornaments
sterilized sewing needle (sterilize by holding over a lit match)
white household glue
pipe cleaners – as many as the eggs you use
Poke a hole into the top and bottom of each egg. Blow into the hole at the top of each egg (the small end) so that the inside of the egg comes out through the bottom hole, into a bowl below. Save all the eggs’ insides for cooking. Paint the eggs with water-based paints, or coat the eggs with white household glue before covering their surface with glitter.
Bend one end of each pipe cleaner into a “U” shape (so that the “U” is about 1 inch in length). Gently insert the other end of the pipe cleaner into the top of the egg, and use the end with the “U” to hang the egg on a tree.
Create an Indoor Sanctuary
We can all benefit from spending time in a little quiet corner where we can find our center, and be recharged. All you need is a private place and a candle, although some of us also like to include photos or statues or gifts from nature in our sanctuary spot. Taking time out to simply gaze at a lighted candle is one way to commune with the inner stillness that brings such peace in the midst of frantic activity.
Plan a Candle-Sing
Call friends and family together, furnish each with a candle in glass to hold, and sing! Nothing beats singing together for making people feel connected, and the glow of candlelight can transform familiar faces into something very special indeed.
Simmering Holiday Potpourri and Wassail – Recipe
Apple cider to fill a largish soup pot
One apple, cut horizontally to make circular round slices 1/2-inch thick
One orange, cut into round slices 1/2-inch thick
3 whole cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
6 whole allspice berries
One 2-inch piece of fresh gingerroot, cut into small rounds
1. Place all ingredients in a large soup pot and bring to a simmer, then reduce and allow to simmer uncovered, adding cider as liquid evaporates.
2. When guests arrive, ladle out a mugful of the hot cider for each person, adding a splash of bourbon or brandy, if you like, and serve with an additional cinnamon stick in each mug.
Wrapping Gifts and Decorating with Nature
Combining the intention of a giving heart with natural beauty is the hallmark of those who create some of the most beautifully wrapped gifts and stunning decorations. Just use as many natural elements–pinecones, nuts, sprays of greenery–as you can.
Take Time for Natural Light at Night
Take time when the house is only lit with candles, the fire, and the lights on a holiday tree.
Decorating with Edibles: It warms the heart to focus on abundance in this wintry time of year. Foods can make lovely decorations that remind us of nature’s generosity: whole apples, pears, pomegranates, and winter squashes are pretty in bowls or placed in a row on a mantel or shelf. Small “Lady Apples” are often available in grocery stores now: you can use a large darning needle to string them together into a gorgeous garland. Dried slices of citrus and apple are pretty additions to packages, wreaths, garlands, and arrangements, too. Other edible lovelies include nuts in the shell, popcorn (so snowy and pretty in strings for trees or doorways), and cranberries. You can add fresh cranberries to the water in a clear glass vase and add flowers as usual. Or just put some cranberries in a glass bowl: the color is so gorgeous! One of my son’s school-friends made a beautiful cranberry and bay-leaf garland that we looped above a kitchen cupboard; it dried and lasted for years.
Pomanders are a traditional way to make your home smell lovely—and they make great gifts. Here’s how to make them:
Using a darning needle, poke holes in lemons or small oranges, tangerines, or apples and insert a clove in each hole. Place the clove-studded fruits in a shallow baking dish filled with a mixture of ground cinnamon and cloves, turning occasionally, until the fruits have dried and hardened. (It speeds things along if you place them on top of a radiator or refrigerator. Plus it will make your home smell heavenly!) When they are “cured,” dust them off, tie a pretty ribbon around them if you like, and give as gifts, hang on the branches of your tree, or place them in a bowl at pulse points in your home.
Make Spirit-Centered Tree Ornaments: Decorating a Yuletide tree evolved from ancient celebrations of the undying evergreen when everything else in nature looks dead. Any way you do it, decorating a tree is lots of life-affirming fun–but did you know that tree ornaments can honor our journey and encourage us on our path? Rather than just buying whatever’s on sale at the hardware store or gift shop to hang on the branches, we can find or make simple tree ornaments that turn our tree into a shining symbol of Spirit. Just find ways to memorialize any accomplishments of milestones from the past year, or include figures of your power animals or spirit guides, or find ways to include images that nourish your soul.
Please share your holiday ideas! Just go to Care2Connect radiant holiday discussion.
By Annie B. Bond