Reinventing Holidays

We took the opportunity to reinvent Christmas a little this year. With the absence of the usual fantastic community holiday events in our lives we felt the need to bring a new aspect of sharing and celebrating. So the idea of a Literary Festival took hold, and we chose 7 authors to create evening readings from Christmas day to New Years… paired with a dress code of course. Because dressing up is the most fun.

Starting with Christmas day, we read from the new book of short stories from the locally infamous Steve Dunsmuir, which we barely made it through for the teary laughter at times, and in pajamas of course. Then we listened to Thomas King, the first of his Massey lecture called The Truth About Stories, which gave us pause over the stories we believe and create and how they shape our actions in the world. We wore solid colours. Evening 3 was the much anticipated Douglas Adams, in which we listened to the BBC radio play of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy- the tertiary phase… dressed in our best hats, coats and tails. Ahh, for the letting go of the imagination into the ridiculous! Author #4- Mary Oliver. Poetry was an essential requirement for the festival, and so we dressed a little like hippies and read from Mary Oliver’s selected poems, followed with some readings of our own poetic creations. Next we chose Barbara Kingsolver, whom we enjoy as a heart touching fiction writer, although we somehow settled on reading from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, essays on living on a farm and producing and consuming local food. Discussions on food sustainability ensued. We even watched David Attenbourough A Life On Our Planet afterwards… just to really get the point on the importance of dismantling much of the systemic corruption we live in. We decorated ourselves in plants and animals. Evening 6 was Noam Chomsky- a relatively unknown author in our house but inspred by the movie Captain Fantastic, (in which the family reads from and celebrated Noam Chomsky instead of Santa Claus) which was in itself inspiration for our reinvention of the holidays. We embarked on a 3 hour documentary of Manufacturing Consent, an eye opening pre-social media warning of the powers that invisibly feed us certain stories… hmmmm… feeling a little circular in content… we dressed fancy but by now we were beginning to wonder if 7 nights of this was a little long.

The Sword In The Stone

However, we had saved the best for last. Tolkien. And thus, on the night of the 31st, Tolkien Eve was created. We dressed as middle eartheners- Elven, Dwarvish, Rohanian, and Hobbit- thanks to all the past Halloween costumes in the house. We made a true hobbit feast- roasted (homegrown) squash, potatoes, turnip, beets, carrots; veggie sausages, cheese and bread, a bit of salmon. We ate the gingerbread recreation of the sword in the stone that the kids made. Then we read from… Guy Gavriel Kay. Our second most favourite fantasy writer. The Fionavar Tapestries are his most Tolkienish novels, and we got so entranced in Kay that we rather hastily read through an Unfinished Tale of Tolkien and then headed down to the new jam space to avoid falling into a sleepy, post-reading doze. Thus we made it into 2021 with instruments in hand, and elven cloaks on our backs.

It really felt like we touched a lot on the theme of mythology and the stories we bring into our realities. That what we belive about our world, ourselves and of the way we exist in this world, indeed also of our relationships to other humans, extends from these unspoken mythologies that can be passed down unknowingly, or knowingly, or without thought, concern or reality, but which in fact really does shape the entire culture of our communities. If there ever was a time to reinvent stuff, it is now. No matter what age or demographic we are in, even a small token of awareness and action has a ripple effect. Having the awareness to redirect our beliefs towards other humans, to the planet, to the sacred, to the well-being of all, is something we need to hugely embrace even if it means feeling vulnerable or uncomfortable. Conversation is important, open-minded discussions, expressions and art, lest we be apathied into this divided separation.

I certainly didn’t mean to write so much- so if you are still reading let me round out our holidays with beautiful walks, tub installation, tile floor finishing, and the Solstice sun hitting it’s height in the new house. We are deeply sad to miss all the gatherings, but we are grateful for all that we have, which is a lot, a huge amount in fact, of beautiful friends, nature, ocean, forest, food, family, dreams, jobs, health, water, air, earth, and fire. I wish such blessings on everyone.

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