Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Gifting Season ~ The Underbelly of Yuletime

For many including myself, The holiday season is a challenge. From the over commercialization, mass spending, circulation of toxic toys, useless gadgets, empty foods, and immense garbage. The expectation whether self imposed or externally commanded, often leaves us simple Earthy folk feeling drained and defeated.

We have also taken brave steps towards insisting on a season of nourishment rather than disdain. Many of us have taken bold steps in asking our families to downsize gifts, making them homemade or more personal, such as gifts of time spent together, planting trees in our children's names, giving gifts of health such as massages or yoga retreats, and focusing more intently on each others' passions in life as inspiration for these gifts.

There is also this funny thing we feel called reciprocity. I know I'm not the only one who feels this intense, burning requirement for equality. Although I'm immensely grateful for the many gifts that come my way in general, specifically at Yule I feel anxiety around the exchange; whether I will leave feeling as though I gave as much (or as good quality) as I received. These expectations are daunting.

I have not found a solution, but little by little I work towards a more empowering time. I want to see joy in my children's eyes, not because they have just opened a wii or a wad of cash, but because I finally had time to make cookies with them. Or because we chose a little tree together and cut it down in the freezing cold and drove back with it nearly flying off the car.

These are cliche - I know - the moments we look for on TV and give lots of lip about. But they're harder to get than we think. We cover them up with icing and candy canes and ribbon - for what reason?

Perhaps because we can't achieve our deeper expectation, our deeper hope, and the failure is unbearable. We feel cheated out of enough time or money or creativity to make it happen. Or perhaps because when we do reach it, it is so powerful it nearly hurts. Perhaps because the feelings available to us at times of truthful giving and receiving, should we be willing to feel them, open rivers of unshed heartache and longing for love and connection in it's many forms.

Yule morning for me is painful and beautiful. It brings me face to face with my unmet goals, my growing children, my aging eyes. It's also humbling; the sweetness of colored pencil cards, feathers wrapped in cloth, coupons for snuggling up and reading together. Long, intentional hugs.

When I melt all the overly sweet, fake frosting of the holidays away, I'm left with something just sweet enough, and just filling enough, without the sugar crash.


In light of gifts for plant lovers, consider these valuable resources for the tree-hugger in your life......

Beautiful Handmade Herbals from:

Blue Turtle Botanicals (amazing Darcey Blue)

DreamSeeds (Teton Herbalist Kristena Haslam)

Invaluable reading/resources:

Plant Healer Magazine (which includes yours truly, waxing poetic about Witch Hazel)

Herbal Roots Zine (a resource I favor for myself and students alike)

Herb Mentor Membership (endless applicable information for all herbal people!)

We'Moon Calendar (My all-time favorite datebook and daily inspiration)

Mountain Rose Herbs (for bulk herbs and herbal supplies)

Of course - finding local farms for things like winter CSA memeberships, wilderness programs for nature awareness and primitive skills, an invitation to a local Red Tent Temple or drum circle, or fresh organic meat from a nearby farm, are incredibly valuable gifts which directly reflect original meanings and traditions of this season.

May you come closer to your heart, your truth, and satisfy your deepest needs for connection this holiday.

My gift to you, dear reader, is a little poem of Witch Hazel which didn't make it's way into Plant Healer Magazine. (consider it a teaser for the article that did get published ;) enjoy......


Witch of the Woods

Ahhh the sun in my eyes

Through eyelashes of Hazel


The Witch of the woods

Winking at me, flirting I think

With her coppiced heart

And divided wholeness

Whose reckless ways

In tandem bloom and fruit and flower

And when ready


So far as to reach the riverbank

On the opposite side

With her I go

Through the veil of October

Riding the winds of the wrinkles in time

As I laugh through my lines

And I see anew through the gauzy tricks

Of Fall and of Fey

And her mischievous way

Wands of witch, divine waters

Flowering pretty, her petals cool

I am taken to dreaming

In my hazel-eyed mind

Holding the hands of change

I sip a sunlit cordial of wishes

Of rolling like her wavy margins

In the wake of summer

In the wake of unrealized hopes

In the wake of release

I float along in her astringency

And wit

And wait for ripening time

When I can explode

And reach the other side