Monday, December 9, 2013

Seasonal Altar

To connect our son to the cycle of the Wheel of the Year, we have a space for him in the dining room for "his altar". He puts things on it that he finds on walks or are given to him that are important. It's not a large space, but treasures come in small packages when you are a child on a walk. He takes after his mama- being a collector. He always finds a stick, leaf, rock or something to bring home.

Shown on the altar now: A rectangular wood box and an acorn shaped box given to him by us. A dried green leaf from our mulberry tree. A black walnut. A rock from the Indiana Dunes. His "owl nut". Acorns. An evil eye necklace from Grandma. A cicada carapace. and "tree pom poms".

Since winter has just started in earnest, the picture that I took today is more fall in theme. He knows that if he picks up some treasure and puts it in his pocket he can place it here, and he loves that. From time to time, we also talk about the seasons and bring out his altar items and what they mean and how they connect to the holidays of the year.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Getting ready for Yule.

My son is going on four and he is already asking why we don't celebrate Christmas "like everybody else". I have had myriad answers for him:

"We are not Christians. Christians celebrate Christmas. We celebrate Yule."

"We are Witches, and we aren't like everybody else."

"We celebrate our holiday many of the same ways the Christians celebrate theirs. Everything you love about Christmas are also Yule celebrations! We will trim a tree, have a feast, invite people over, bake sweets, exchange gifts, hang lights."

It doesn't help that his grandparents (and when he's there, TV commercials) are pushing Christmas- HARD. He came home from a weekend with them talking about it incessantly. I am sure he saw lots of Christmas hype on their TV. And then he said, "I wanna celebrate Christmas."

So I said, "You are going to celebrate Christmas when we are with your grandparents. And we as a family also celebrate Yule."

Then he replied. I wanna celebrate Christmas for the right reason." (Uh oh.)

"What do you mean?", I asked.

"I don't want to tell you." (Hmmm. That isn't good and smells of deceptive indoctrination...)

"Sweetie, you can tell me anything. You know that. Please tell me why it is important to you.", I pressed.

"JESUS." (OK, confirmation of my fears.)

"Well, Christians believe that Jesus was the son of a god. And they celebrate Christmas as his birthday party (never mind it actually isn't his birthday, according biblical scholars). But WE do not believe that Jesus was anything more than a cool guy who said some important things in his day. When you are older, you will be free to seek out any or no religion at all, once you can actually understand them and what they offer. But while you are little, we do things as a family, a team. We are the Kunnings Three, remember?"

That brings a smile to his face. He loves being one of the Kunnings Three.

So now, I am getting him ready to celebrate Yule. With the media onslaught that happens this time of year, I cannot blame him for wanting to be a part of it. And I refuse to take part in the onslaught that celebrates it too early. So after Thanksgiving, we erect a tree and such.

He gets such propaganda from commercials and all his favorite shows (all kids shows feature Santa this time of year) that we need to show him that our traditions are fun and good, too. Cuz frankly, who throws a religious party better than Witches? (No one, that's who.)

He spent another weekend with the grandparents after Thanksgiving. He is coming home this evening. Then he will help us put up a tree, drink hot cocoa, and we'll start teaching him seasonal songs.

On the 1st, we will start the advent calendar (in the shape of a tree, that counts to 21). Inside each drawer is a treat or a slip of paper saying what fun thing we get to do that day. We will teach him songs, let him help cook and bake, light the yule log, and on our actual celebration, we will let him stay up and revel with us (we stay up all night to see the sunrise). I am sure he will fall asleep long before dawn, but being a part of something big and festive is important.

Only after we do our family traditions will he get Christmas, with his grandparents.

How do you celebrate the seasons, especially with little ones? How do you deal with the crass commercialism, the overwhelming Christianity, and extended family that are probably not the same religion as you (and perhaps trying to sway your kid to their point of view)?