The star that the Wise Men followed led not away into the widths of the heavenly worlds but to a house, an earthly dwelling, and an inevitable part of their journey was their encounter with evil in the person of Herod. We, too, may be following a star, seeking the abode of our highest aspirations. This is always to be found on the earth — set firmly in the ground of daily life, earthly tasks and responsibilities. On the way, we meet unforeseen difficulties, disappointments, even dangers, which may force us to change directions. But on all this the star shines: on the success and the failure, on the good and the evil, and in the clear light of its rays we are guided ever forward.
— from All Year Round, by Ann Druitt, Christine Fynes-Clinton and Marije Rowling
Because I felt like there was a little something lacking this holiday season – at least from my perspective – I wanted to make up for it by having an extra special Twelfth Night celebration this year. Something quiet, but meaningful; something to let the girls see that Christmas is not just one day, but a feeling they can carry with them throughout the year. In my mind it would be a day of new traditions: a nice dinner maybe…or an Epiphany cake with a bean hidden in it; perhaps tree burning, or at the very least a basket of all the knitted things I didn’t finish in time for Christmas. (this Christmas and Christmas pasts…) Living in the sprit of “less”, we would skip the swimming lessons they were signed up for that night, stay home and enjoy the magic. Living in the spririt of less, I assumed, would leave more room for planning – for preparation and thought.
Apparently that room hasn’t manifested yet, because when I woke up on the morning of January sixth I was no more prepared than I had been on Christmas Eve. No cake ingredients, nor desire to make one. No knitted things at hand, no plan in place. A whole bunch of nothing at the ready.
But isn’t this my goal…less?
That’s what I said to myself, and rather than rush downstairs and try to finish up some knitting or make time to figure out a cake recipie and run to the store for ingredients, I just made some breakfast, cleaned up a little, and puttered around. And it felt good. There was nothing so pressing that I wasn’t available to read the girls a story when they wanted or take time out of what I was doing to help them find the scissors, get a belt through a loop, help dress a doll, listen – really listen – to what they were saying to me.
Although I was happy to let day run its natural course, there was one errand I had to run. A quick one that required little driving, (I needed to get a dump pass from the town hall to dispose of the mass amounts of trash and recycling we accumulated over the holidays) but one that required getting dressed, which made the girls grumble – Emerson all the way to the town hall, where she refused, at first, to even come in the building.
Grumbling, getting dressed slowly, and refusing to come into the town hall are all things that wouldn’t fly within the framework of our normal – non-holiday life, but the beauty of having a day with only one small thing to do is that there was plenty of room for all these things.
And more. After we got the dump pass, we decided to walk to the library (a few doors down) and pick up some books waiting for us on the hold shelf. We stopped and looked at every crack, nut, leaf and piece of trash on the sidewalk. The girls went further afield into people’s yards and explored their poarch decorations, flags, and lawn scatterings. We studied the stainglass windows of the Congregational Church, and the bell tower and clock on top. On the walk back, the girls fashioned witches’ brooms out of fallen branches and rode them back to the car. The round trip took about an hour and a half. (Yes, I did say a few doors down).
The branch brooms came home with us, and the girls wisked around their magical world while I raked–yes raked…in January–leaves into a pile for their witch home. Later that day we did decide to go swimming, because it worked out that way, and it was fun! We didn’t have a cake with a hidden bean in it, but we did have a special dinner. Not because of what was on our plates, but what was in our hearts, minds and bodies: space. Space to not follow a plan. Space to let the day carry itself. Space to be together. Space to be interested in the world. Space that is only possible by letting all the other things go.