Friday, December 18, 2009

Great Fun!

Yesterday I visited my daughter's class to talk about the Winter Solstice. She's in the fourth grade and her teacher sent home a note asking if any parents would like to come in and share something about our holiday traditions. I decided ours is something different and wanted to share. The kids were all so great. I started out by telling them I was a little nervous to talk in front of people, "but you're all nice, right?". And they were. I told them that to understand why we celebrate the Solstice we would have to talk about history. I explained that we were agricultural people and asked if they knew what that meant. One kid even had farmers in his family- so cool! I asked if any of them had seen the show "Little House on the Prairie" and some had. So I said to think about those times and for many years before that era. Before the industrial and technological revolutions, when we didn't have freezers and refrigerators and people had to dry their meat and find ways to make their food last through the winter. And everyone was dependent on the farmers and so we were very dependent on the sun and very aware of the seasons. So. What happens to the sun during the winter? They knew that it sets earlier. So I explained that it sets earlier and rises later until the Winter Solstice. That is the longest night of the year- the day with the least daylight. The next day, the sun rises a little earlier and sets a little later. So even though it feels like we still have so much winter left, we have a little sign that spring and summer are coming. They understood why it would have been so important. I also told them that to celebrate we have dinner with my best friend and we have a sort-of mini-Christmas, exchanging gifts but we also talk about the year. What we're thankful for, what we want to work on in the coming year. So then I got out my guitar! I can't believe I played in front of so many people. In certain situations kids can be really cool. They were all so excited because it's purple. So I told them I've only had it a few months and might make some mistakes. I played "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Frosty the Snowman" and they all sang along and covered up my mistakes. Then I played "We Three Kings" and several kids sang along. It was really nice. I felt great for having taught them something. After the fuss that was made over that Gap commercial, I was glad to explain the holiday to some people who didn't know what it is about. I wonder what their parents said when they got home and told them they learned about the Solstice? If they repeat what they learned there should be no reason for fussing. It's not as if I told them we call the quarters and cast a circle and pray to God and Goddess before opening our presents. I wish it wasn't such a big deal. I wish I could talk about those types of things openly in any company but the world isn't quite ready for that so I'll start in small ways. It's not important that people have the whole picture, only that they see it's nothing to be frightened of and maybe even see a little beauty in it.


  1. That's wonderful? What grade were the kids? Yes, you can share a bit of history without getting into the religious belief aspects. All ancients would have looked to nature first, so much of the ancient beginnings of even the judeo/christian religions have traditions that address the natural world they lived in at that time and how to deal with it: dietary rules and hygiene are a couple that come to mind. Great post.


  2. Thanks! They were fourth-graders. Just old enough to understand and be interested but not judgmental. Thinking of these 'old' holy days is like a doorway to the past. We can consider what life must have been like for our ancestors and how they might have spent these days. Fascinating. I felt so privileged to share my little story of this big day with such wonderful people!