December has arrived. Chilly, wet, and filled with anticipation.

Marq and I wrapped up Thanksgiving in a blur of turkey sandwiches, black-eyed Friday shopping, and rivalry weekend football.

Honestly, we skipped the shopping and went to a movie, slept through most of the weekend, then finally said “no!” to more turkey and pumpkin pie. That’s when I decided to utilize Marq’s man power and move furniture around just to shake things up a bit.

Other folks are way ahead of us though, posting festive shots of their Christmas trees on social media. I’ll admit, ours is still alive and standing somewhere in a field west of town. We’re not lazy, just focused on other things.

In a few weeks, winter officially begins. And lucky for us, winters are mild in Texas; but for some of you, all I can say is “God bless!”

I’ve survived the cold of a Wisconsin winter, the windchill reaching 90 degrees below zero……the insanity of it all, the winter itches, the incessant snow, then no snow because it’s too cold to snow, the early darkness that settles across the land, the cabin fever…….

… much darkness, so little light.

At 04:48 Universal Time on December 22nd (that’s December 21, 10:48 p.m. CST) the seasons change. For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, we’ll experience the darkest day of the year and welcome Old Man Winter. People living in the southern hemisphere will celebrate the beginning of summer vacation; and for a full twenty-four hours, the Antarctic will be bathed in light.

Our traditional solstice celebration sets the pace for Christmas and New Year. On that night we burn candles in the windows, drink hot cocoa, and keep a fire burning in the fireplace. We offer a warm space where friends and family gather to celebrate the longest night of the year.

Some of us participate in a fire ceremony, a ritual that helps create positive change in my life. The ceremony is private and very simple.

First, you create a “bundle” that represents what it is that you want to release to the Heavens, to God, to your higher power. One year I made an elaborate bundle tying sage branches with native grasses, leather, and feathers. The next, I wrote a message to myself on a piece of paper, folded it into an envelope and placed it on the fire. The bundle doesn’t matter as much as the intention.

The purpose of the fire ceremony is to release and give up an emotion, or a behavior, a memory, a grudge, or a belief, something big or small, something that you feel is holding you back in life. By laying the bundle on the fire, you release the darkness into the light. No words need to be spoken or shared. It happens at your own will, in your own time.

Season of darkness…..season of light.

I extend an invitation to you to honor yourself, your needs and your wishes. Give yourself permission to let go, to hibernate, reflect and rest. Know that just as the darkness comes, so will the light; and with this cycle, true restoration will occur.

This is the promise of Christ — a vibrant meaningful life.

Therein lies the true joy of the season, this softer, dimmer side of Christmas.