I always like to celebrate the Solstice, and this year I did it with a children's party. The plan was to meet at the beach early enough to be there when the sun went down
and then go back to my house for snacks. The children and I had discussed these: pizza, we all thought, would be perfect -- round, the right colors. So I made three different kinds of homemade pizza. I am trying really hard not to always go overboard on everything, and in general, be less anxious -- to, as Alvina advised recently to "assume the best and let it go." I had a lot of work to do, too, so I had promised myself to stop at home-made pizza and sparkling lemonade for the kids, Prosecco for the adults -- but the morning of the party, found myself in my car, about to scour the countryside for preserved lemons. I didn't go, though: I remembered my promise to myself in time. Then I thought -- well, maybe I can just make some scones and get some lemon curd....but I said no to that one, too.
I worried about not having done enough until one of the mothers came with homemade cornbread (from yellow local stoneground curd) and lemon curd!
We met at the beach in time to watch the sun set -- the plan was to each come with one idea for saying goodbye to the dark and one for welcoming the light. Fiona (9) made sun necklaces for us -- BEAUTIFUL Rothko-like things (orange, yellow, red) she'd painted on a kind of salt clay she makes. We all put them around our necks.
Everyone dressed in either sun (orange, yellow, red, pink) or dark (black) colors.
Jake (5) had been looking forward most to his idea: throwing rocks into the ocean. We all did this with great gusto. I had written all the thing I wanted to get rid of on one side of a piece of paper, starting with anxiety, and what I wanted to replace them with on the other. The idea was to do a puja: tip the paper in half, twist one half tightly and throw it into the ocean to burn..... but we couldn't get it to stay lit. So I just said the pairs out loud and then threw the dark, unburnt ones into the ocean. I kept the others (that's part of the puja).
Then we tried to light the candles I'd brought in little glasses--but they wouldn't stay lit, either.
So we did the next thing: ran up and down the beach taking turns carrying the Sun Banner (in reality, a sailing flag for a small island nation).
Then we went back to my house, where Fiona and Ethan had made one chain for the dark and one for the light. The PLAN was to rip down the dark one, which was hanging up in the kitchen downstairs (to a Celtic tune "Gone Away" about bad spirits being gone), and then march upstairs all carrying candles to another song.
But, we didn't -- I was a little disappointed, but glad that the kids all liked the idea of the candle-lighting contest -- I had put candles all over the downstairs and each child got a taper to light them with. But,this too got modified -- when I mentioned the word "contest" one child's whole face fell, so I said,
"Would it be more fun to just light the candles and not keep track of who lights the most?"
He looked relieved and said yes. They all did that, with parents helping sometimes -- one of the kids was only three.
We were also planning to do sun salutations, led by one of the mothers who used to teach yoga, but not everyone wanted to do that, either. I remembered my mantra and just let it go. Instead, we sang a song Fiona knew and after that I just went with the flow and served the food-- and (although I admit at first I was a little disappointed, and worried that the kids would be bored without things to do) they seemed happy with the yellow and orange snacks and candlelight (I don't know how many candles, more than 40 I think). It was fun, just talking and eating and drinking the Prosecco (so pretty in the candlelight!). Some of the kids went upstairs and jumped on the couch (which I had covered with yellow and white quilts just in case this happened); one of the fathers went with them-- and I relaxed. Going with the flow was easier than I thought!
Then after some people left we did some yoga after all, by candlelight, and ate the homemade truffles one mother had brought:
"Dark and light snacks!" she said -- she was the one who also brought the cornbread....the first hint at the party that sometimes "enough" is a lot less than you think. This is the song we didn't sing marching upstairs holding our candles:
"May the longtime sun shine on you
All love surround you
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on!"
(And if that sounds too new agey for words to some people -- it's actually a really old Celtic blessing, which *I* first heard when the Incredible Stringband did it in the sixties or seventies.)