Solstice has come and gone. For me, this is the spiritual part of the winter holiday season.
I am Unitarian. Growing up, we always had secular Christmas, which meant family and food and decorations and pagan symbolism everywhere. And as I've started older (our family grays early...I state that I am indeed getting older based on the number of grays I have to dye at age 29), Solstice is what rings as my spiritual core. If I miss celebrating/acknowledging it, I feel empty. And if I do it justice, I feel good.
Don't get me wrong, Christmas is not about yoga and candles. It is about a Christmas Eve walk to look at the lights (except my neighborhood now is way to posh and boring with regards to lights) and Silver Packages readings and stockings for everyone. I buy bagels and lox, because apparently I believe that is what one should eat on Christmas morning? My husband has learned that I am happier with a tree, and he has started pressuring me to get one earlier and earlier in the season. And I top my tree with an owl, because I am a dirty pagan at heart. He has also learned that I Despise malls during this time and has volunteered to go get what we need there tomorrow (a yankee swap gift). Yes. Be jealous.
It has been three years since I've been with my parents and family in Minnesota for Christmas, and I ache for it. And next year I will be a junior fellow with no clout whatsoever. So I shall call and skype and make chosen family. On Christmas Day I will join fellow residents in eating decadent food and lighting candles.
Because candles are light, and light is hope. And even one candle can keep the darkness from being complete.