My Silent Night, My Holy Night

A very cool thing is about to happen on December 21. It marks the coming of Winter: Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. The changing of the seasons, an ancient time of celebration. Welcome Winter!
But you know what else? There will also be a total lunar eclipse on December 21st. Well, really tonight! The eclipse begins at 1:33 in the morning, eastern time. Very cool. NASA says having the total lunar eclipse occur on Winter Solstice has only happened once since year 1. Once! And that was on the Winter Solstice 1638. Yes, it will happen again in 2094, but I don’t imagine I’ll be around to see it. What a great reason to stay awake.

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  1. Teddie G. says:

    I have meant to write to tell you how delicious your Orzo recipe is! I took it to our church potluck and what a hit! How about sharing your Lentil Soup recipe? Loved this post! Keep up the good work. You stretch my mind! Happy Solstice!

  2. nancy says:

    A girl of the South, I live in Wi now..we have snow and biting cold, but we also have an incredible view of the sky. It feels like the stars will bump your nose at any moment.

    Solistice is gets dark here at 4 pm..
    To celebrate, we’ll go out with the dogs, walk around the pond and prairie, listen to Lake Michigan roar, savor the starlight and know that the seasons are unfolding as they should.

  3. Ellen says:

    Amen to you! And Merry Christmas too!

  4. Francis says:

    Me too! I had never heard of a Winter Solstice celebration until a few years back. I find it to be a meaningful ADDITION to our Christmas celebrations. Merry Christmas!! I love your pieces.

  5. Nicki says:

    I am so moved by this post. I thank you for writing it.

  6. JoEllen says:

    Love the quote — they will know we are Christians by our love (and tolerance). I didn’t know much about Winter Solstice either until my new age granddaughters moved up here and one is living with us. But, I am keeping an open mind on the celebration and love the idea of celebrating the changing of the seasons. It’s all God’s creation and to enjoy every part of it and the divine hand that separated the seasons into 4 distinct ones, is worthy to celebrate. We will probably just enjoy each other and reminisce of past memories of this time of year when our family was young and home, by candlelight!! Merry Christmas to your family!

  7. MaryFrantic says:

    OH my goodness! Am I dreaming? Do other women enjoy these activities? Many many years ago I got together with a small group of free-spirited female friends. We reserved the local indoor pool (after hours, with appropriate FEMALE lifeguard). We turned off most lights and put candles all around the pool. Most of us removed bathing suits upon entering the water. We celebrated changing of the season into Winter; we drank a little wine; we celebrated Rosa Parks and other brave women we admired; one lady brought a DRUM to poolside and gave a little rhythm to the songs we sang (in and out of harmony). When it was time to close, we prayed for each other and gave thanks for those who went before us so that our night of celebration was now possible.
    This may not sound too interesting to all of you, but it is a night I will never forget.
    Thanks for reviving a wonderful memory.

  8. Jo says:

    What a wonderful experience! I was raised Catholic as well and now that I am older, (just celebrated 55, whooheee!), I crave and protect my sacred and holy times. Winter solstice and Christmas go hand in hand in my book. Some of my new and closest friends are the energy, spritualist types. I have learned so much from them. I believe God gave us winter to rest and reflect. I am planning a lot of that this season. Blessings to all!

  9. Cheri says:

    OK- so here in central Ohio- as usual there was no way to see the eclipse through the clouds. Although my understanding duaghter was MORE THAN ready to be awakened in case there was a chance. I love the idea of celebrating the seasons- it is yet another way to CELEBRATE the HOLYDAYS that are among us. Yes we are Catholic as well, I may be able to get the horses to hang with me out in the cold tonight- but will get some heavy eye-rolling from sighing from teh rest of the family. Proud of you for making it important.

  10. Bambi says:

    Loved the post and the videos except the small part in the tree video where the SNAKE makes an appearance!!

  11. Patricia Yelle says:

    Thank you for sharing hour winter solstice experiences with us – they were enjoyable. This is my favorite day of the year since from this day on I know the days will be getting longer each day!I love the slower pace of life that winter brings. It gives me the time to reflect, create and plan for the return of the sun in Spring. Merry Christmas to you and your family, and thank you for all of your wonderful blogs during the year – they are a joy!

  12. carol branum says:

    Rebecka,Love you so much,You seem to say the things I needed to hear today,and a while back you said something I loved,Fallen from Grace or fallen for Grace,and I needed that so bad,and I just want to tell you that I love you and am glad that you had a merry holiday Winter Solitice!Keep up the excellent writing!Carol Branum

  13. Sally says:

    I’m late in saying so, but wanted to say this post is wonderful. How very touching. Thank you.

  14. Louise Fredieu says:

    Hi . . . This is my first time reading your blog. You can put your money on it, i will be back. What i really like is that you are not far right and you are not far left; you are somewhere in the middle with most of us. Your mind is open enough to not only tolerate but accept the strangeness in a lot of us and to encourage the stability in the rest of us. I just admire the way you respect Hubs, but somehow work it out so that he will participate and have a good time while doing so. Now, as far as i can tell, my money is on you!!!

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Mall Stall

I sat there and wished I had my camera. I fumbled with my phone, trying to figure out how to take a photo with it. No go: too advanced for my feeble tech-challenged brain. It was a mall Santa who had caused this “need to photograph.” He was gorgeous; the perfect Santa. I stood there and watched him with the children on his lap. Babies didn’t cry. Kids weren’t scared. He was spectacular. Could it be?

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  1. Laura says:

    Hi Rebekah,

    Enjoyed your post. I used to go to Lenox mall when I was a child to ride the pink pig. That felt like Christmas then.

    Now, my husband and I love to stay at our "farm" – our house in the country where I garden and he does his art – for the holidays. This year I’m finally putting up a greenhouse, so I’ll be spending long hours poring over my seed collection and getting some newbies started.

    I love the long winter nights when I can read next year’s seed catalogs and dream of spring gardens.

    We’ll put up a tree, bring some holly in from the yard, and open some jams and pickles we put up last summer. We’ll do presents and call family and friends, but probably our favorite tradition now is relishing the solitude and restoration we find in having a quiet Christmas at home.

    Happy Holidays!

  2. Valeroe says:

    I plan on making practically all of my christmas gifts this year. I just hope I can get it all done, most of my gifts though will be table runners. Since I am a brand new sewer and quilter hopefully these will go by pretty fast. Since my husband and I have our own home this year we will be getting a real christmas tree. I had wanted to make a popcorn and cranberry garland however with our cat and dog my husband thinks it would become food. lol, however I might still make one and having it somewhere they cant reach.

  3. This was a wonderful article. I think often we have "christmas" pushed at us so hard by all the retail/commercial scenes, that we have to fight to not lose the meaning to Christmas.
    By the time December gets here many are all ready done with all the decorations/music & pressure that have been thrown at them since September/October.
    I intend to not stress & fret over Christmas this year. I will be thankful for fun times spent with the family.
    Baking cookies and other treats to share with friends. Finding other family memories to create that don’t center around the latest gizmo or gadget that "we have to have" if we believe the all the commercials.

  4. Chris Haines says:

    Christmas is reading the Christmas story to my 4 year old grandchild and playing with the nativity, acting out the story with my two 1 year old’s grandbabies, Knowing about the greatest gift of God’s Son.

  5. kay says:

    Less is the key this year for me…less family, less baking, less decorating, and that is fine with me. Been kind of fun doing more for others who’s needs outweigh mine. I know that isn’t a humble statement but it is the reason for the season.

  6. Genevieve says:

    Less is the key for me, too. Most volunteer-run organizations are overwhelmed with holiday signups only to be desperate for help again come January. So this year, I’ll postpone the helping until January, go shopping for pet supplies with The Boy and then drop them at a local shelter, and replace some of the gifts with heartfelt calls. We’re also…

    GASP! Picking up a few pans of catered food to eat on Christmas Day! I know, I know–it’s especially alarming since I love to cook. But I do it every day–always healthy, always homemade. If a catered Christmas ends up being the less that’s actually more, then I’m all for it!

  7. Kristy says:

    Well, I know exactly what you mean. Our family is always in danger,this time of year, of missing the "good stuff", because of the pace that seems to come with Christmas. My favorite way to keep Christmas is to celebrate the Advent season. We get hot chocolate and read our Advent story and light our candles (sometimes there’s a blazing fire in the hearth) But, for 20 minutes, every night for a month, we are all together….really together. We also home school, so I work in time to make cookies and paper chains.
    I’m in agreement, less is really best. Have a Merry Christmas!!

  8. mara says:

    Hi Rebekah, I know just what you mean about the holidays…I just had the most unbelievable experience I know I will never forget. I do volunteer work for various org. and was nominated to go to the White House to attend a Holiday Open House. I received a personal invitation from the First Lady, I went and had a very unforgettable time! The food was fabulous, and I was able to get a hug and handshake from the First Lady!!! This is my first blog (if that is what I am doing) ever, and what a great way to start. I will never forget this Christmas ever. All of the volunteers there were wonderful and friendly. Anyway, I am back to peacfulness on our farm and have cookies to bake now, so I need get back to normal. Thank you for a wonderful writing about using and reusing. The First Lady had lots of recycled ornaments and I got great ideas to use on my own home. Merry Christmas!

  9. Debbie says:

    Loved this Rebekah! I think Christmas is what WE make it at home and what we open our hearts to seeing during the season. Not what is shoved at us from every possible angle months ahead of time. Maybe it takes getting a little older to realize it, I’m not really sure, but here it is December 7th… I haven’t purchased one gift ( I have a house full of loved ones to buy and bake for though )nor is my home decked out for the holidays… yet… This year I decided I’m having a SLOOOOOW and Creative Christmas…I baked my first ever ( from scratch ) pumpkin pie via Mary Jane’s Farm mag recipe and instructions last night by the light of a kerosene lantern as we wait for the last phase of our kitchen remodeling to be done …LIGHTING… ( that’s tomorrow)… anyway, the game was on in the living room, and I was alone in my almost finished kitchen baking and enjoying the smells and the quiet… it was lovely… and you know what? It FELT like Christmas to me! The tree is in the yard waiting to be brought in and decorated and I know right where my decorations are when I get ready to pull them out and get to it…For a different touch on our Christmas we’ll be adding some beachy shells to our traditional wreaths to celebrate the beautiful place we call home near Cape Cod…. and friends will be coming by for an early Christmas Brunch on the 19th….My hubby has dusted off the Christmas music ( that’s his thing ) which now rings through the house from now until the New Year arrives… I’d say we are all set!
    Merry Christmas to you and thank you for all of your wonderful words through out the past year!
    Look forward to more in 2011!
    Beach Blessings~

  10. MaryFrantic says:

    I’m always blessed by your conversations with us. Thanks for taking your valuable time to share. Most of us don’t have the talent (let alone the time) to set their thoughts to pen and share like this. So if you’re having a stressful time one of these days and think "why am I doing the MJF blog on a regular basis?"…please don’t quit. … Just this one article has added to my personal Christmas enjoyment!

  11. Debbie says:

    ps. That post on Zen habits? WONDERFUL AND ON POINT!

    Thank you for including it in yours…

    Beach Blessings,

  12. bonnie ellis says:

    Rebecca: I don’t think you can make Christmas slow but you can simmer it. A slow, steady infusion of all the senses; smells of cinnamon, spice, pine and egg nog. The feeling of wet snow on your face or the heat of an open fire and the warmth of mittens on your hands.The sound of wind in the trees,bells on horses and giggling children. The touch of a loved one or snuggling pets. Those are the simple joys. Enjoy

  13. kathy schild says:

    My husband and I have two barely grown children( early twenties) and two much younger children (ages 7 and 11). When our older two were little, my husband and I repeated a lot of what we had grown up with, which was commercialism and materialism. We did this without really thinking; it was just tradition. At some point, however, as our two youngest grew from babies into toddlers, we began to make changes in our thinking, and thus our traditions. ADDITION by SUBTRACTION became our goal. Last year, I knit something for just about everyone, not big things, but thoughtful things like neck cozies, berets, and organic cotton washcoths accompanied by a fragrant soap. I also had dates with my two oldest, eating lunch out with my daughter and getting her hair done at her favorite salon, and eating dinner out with my son and shopping with him for a cordoroy blazer. My husband picked out age appropriate wood working tools for our two youngest, since that was (and still is) a major interest for both of them, and then (this is the important part) he and they spent time together making items with those tools. This year so far, we have watched a gorgeous amaryllis grow from a plain brown bulb right before our very eyes. We also sketched it and sent the drawings to my grandmother in another state. We are reading Dickens’ Cricket on the Hearth, a little every day, which transports us back to a MUCH simpler time in terms of contentment. I have a decorated shoe box on the kitchen table which has the countdown to Christmas on the lid (I change the number every morning). When my little guys wake up, they check the box to see what I have put in there, which are activities that involve togetherness: 3 games of rummy, baking gingersnaps, hot chocolate for breakfast, etc. This gets the focus off getting "stuff" and on to time spent together enjoying the season. Once you adopt this mindset, it’s amazing how easily you detect the traps of commercialism and come up with an alternative plan pleasing to everyone in the family!
    Merry Christmas!

  14. Cathy Hale says:

    You’re so right… Christmas is within us…in our hearts. With each thing we do for someone else, each time we sing a carol, each time we slow down enough to really enjoy the sights, sounds, taste, aromas and most of all feelings of Christmas, we are truly celebrating.

  15. Keleen says:

    I can definitely identify with your mall stall, Rebekah! After working retail for 10 Christmases straight, I truly needed a "Christmas Break". The joyful season was no longer joyful for me. So for the past few years, I have been on a Christmas detox. Family presents are exchanged at Thanksgiving, I send Happy New Year cards instead of Christmas cards to a few friends I don’t see very often, decorations are minimal, my husband and I take our vacation the week of Dec. 25, and I DON’T GO TO THE MALL! Your message should be shouted from the rooftops: Less IS Best!! I loathe what the Christmas season has become for so many: a Thirst for Things! Every day of our lives, not just at Christmas, should be like our Saviour–meek and lowly, kind and compassionate, with a heart for others. So I applaud all you sweet Farmgirls who are slowing down the pace and spending your time making memories with family and friends with simply LOVE.

  16. Judy says:

    This is exactly what I needed to read. I was beginning to feel the familiar frantic Christmas rush kicking in. This helps me put it into perspective. It shouldn’t be frantic, should it? Thank you for your inspiring words!

  17. Shery Jespersen says:

    All one needs to do is spell Christmas to themselves and focus on the first six letters…and then the volume of the noise and busyness is shut out. Nothing is more "natural" or basic than focusing on the real meaning…CHRISTmas. Linger on that thought for as long as it takes to rekindle where all the joy began. The rest of holiday festivity is WONderful, it makes for a great contrast between celebration and a quiet peace…the kind of peace that drowns out the noise of the world and the hollowness you mention.

    I love the holiday festivity…all of it, every corner, but if it were not for the birth of an infant King, there would be no Christmas. "White Christmas" would never have been made…Oh, now that would be awful! Stockings would never have been hung. No carols that make you feel at peace just by singing them, no Santa legend, no sparkling evergreen tree. Without Jesus, the "holiday" is just a shopping spree and the results offer no lasting or meaningful joy. I wrote more than I intended. I’m for all the wonders of the Christmas Season with THE central figure being, well, central. Merrrrrry Christmas everyone. Shery

  18. Teresa says:

    Thanks for bringing back memories.

    I remember riding the Pink Pig at the old downtown Rich’s store, shopping at the Santa’s Secret Shop and my chorus performing at a lighting of the Great Tree (before it was moved to Lenox). I took my friend’s little girls to ride the Pink Pig @ Lenox…fun…but not quite the same thing. However, Lenox still remains my favorite place to people watch.

  19. Diane Van Horn says:

    Thank you so much for all of your blogs through-out the year. I look forward to them all, but this one really struck a chord with me. I have been not feeling very Christmasy this year. In trying to have a simple Christmas, I kept decorations down to nothing and only sent out a few cards and very little shopping. Christmas was always very fun and exciting when my children were home. Even when I was a single mother with little money, it just seemed to be Christmas when my children were involved. It has been especially rough since my daughter Shannon moved to South Carolina with her Army Husband four years ago. We always enjoyed decorating and baking together. I did fly down to Columbia, SC on December 15th to go with my daughter to a very important doctor appointment. We finally got a referral to a specialist off of the army base for her chronic lyme disease. She was bit by a deer tick over 15 years ago and was never properly diagnosed until almost 2 1/2 years after. The best Christmas present ever was a doctor that finally knows what she is going through and did not tell us we are crazy! She has started IV anti-biotics and I am saying a little prayer that it helps her. We did get a little time to do some shopping and bake some cookies and decorate. I came home on the 20th feeling pretty Christmasy! I can always decorate next year! A very Merry Christmas and Hopeful New Year to you and yours!

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