‘Spring In Your Step takes you on a personal journey from the depths of winter through to early summer. It examines the relevance and importance of the turning of the seasons, what that may mean to you, and how you can enjoy and celebrate the natural world in your everyday life. It also demonstrates how it is possible to extend the attitude and activity of celebration to include your ordinary life and highlights the many ‘little’ festivities’ which have become treasured occurrences in local calendars.
Here is a ‘granny’s patchwork quilt of seasonal information. Following the format of my first book, ‘Merry Midwinter’, ‘Spring In Your Step’ offers practical hints and tips, family recipes, family poems, children’s stories and simple, appropriate seasonal craft projects, along with memories of my own springtime childhood and observations of how we, as a family, authentically celebrate the season of spring today.
Take pride in re-growing kitchen scraps on your windowsills, develop miniature gardens in dishes, design a beautiful, functional garden feature, weave a Brighid’s Cross or formulate a personal ‘sigil’; dip your own tapers and candles, artfully decorate a Valentine Tree or heart-warming garland, decorate a tasteful Easter hat for the man in your life or make your own easter bonnet – there is loads to do, to engage in, to be inspired by and to entertain everyone.
You will be encouraged to indulge in life in all its facets from simple days of note to major festivals; from combating the ‘January Blues’ and playing in the snow to identifying the earliest signs of spring and celebrating such festivals as Imbolc/Gwyl ffraid, Aalentine, Carnival, Shrove Tuesday, Mothering Sunday, the Spring Equinox and Easter. The book is also sprinkled with many lesser known celebrations such as the Feast of Juno, Egg Saturday, Collop Monday, Nickannan Night and Saint Mark’s Eve as well as more modern occasions like Earth Hour, International Women’s day, World Harmony day and International Mother Language Day.
In our modern multi-cultural society this accessible and straightforward approach to life crosses all borders and boundaries – regardless of culture, creed, religion, nationality or gender– and invites everyone into an equal and communal partnership in experiencing and celebrating life – a joyous seasonal inspiration for young and old alike.
Christmas falls at Midwinter, which in the Northern Hemisphere is the traditional time of celebration, generous hospitality and service to others. Planning ahead for it is all an integral part of preparing for winter, a joyful coming together of family and friends at the darkest time of the year, when we can shut the door and snuggle up within our cosy home.
It is part of this preparation that my new book focuses on. ‘The Alternative Advent Calendar’ is all about how to offer ones’ thought, love, actions and care to those around us in this precious time of Christmas and Midwinter preparation. Each of the twenty-five little chapters represents a ‘Door’ in an advent calendar and each suggests an action, task or challenge for you to do, one for each day of December in the run up to Christmas. Midwinter has always been a time of sharing and giving to others and our lives in the Twenty-first Century need be no different – indeed, would be greatly enriched if we only strive to promote this oldest tradition a little more actively.
It has nothing to do with spending money. In fact, that is the very last thing I am suggesting. It might require you to give a little of your time, effort and thought, though. Smile at all you see today… spend some quality time with someone… speak to someone (phone or face to face if possible) who you haven’t spoken to in a while…feed the wild birds… make someone a hot drink, and stir in some kindness… write a friendly seasonal card to a neighbour you don’t know very well… the list goes on. Simple, everyday things with which to smooth the way, nourish your relationships and friendships, nurture the natural world around you and enrich everyone’s life…. Including your own.
This little gem of loving suggestions encourages you to join in the fun and celebrate the winter as our people have always done, and perhaps add some feasting and socialising in warmth and friendship as in all old winter gatherings. Allow the deeply held memories ingrained in your DNA to be reactivated and revive some of the old ways of honouring community… and enjoy yourself!
My book contains lots of simple, accessible ideas about how we can rekindle the true essence of Midwinter/Christmas celebration by doing and giving of ourselves and not succumbing to all the stressful and expensive commercial pressures and consumer hype.
It explains why it is important to celebrate the whole season, (not just the 25th December), the physical and spiritual relevance of solar activity at Midwinter and the origins of many of our most well-known and best-loved Christmas traditions.
‘Merry Midwinter’ is completely non-religious but is a celebration of family, community and life. It demonstrates how we can dress our houses with traditional authentic evergreen decorations, give thoughtful and sincere gifts, celebrate more genuinely, and be more inclusive in all our activities. It suggests how we can be more considerate and honest in our dealings with each other. How, for instance, we can more authentically and genuinely send out greetings cards and ‘round robin’ letters. When we can ask for – and expect/get – support and help. How to deal with the challenges of difficult relatives and family members and to remember the less fortunate, lonely and sick. All this in a flurry of family recipes, craft instructions, historical facts and explanations, fresh and inspiring suggestions, stories, vignettes, childhood reminiscences and present day snapshots of a busy but dedicated family.
Here are dreams brought into down-to-earth and very possible reality. ‘Merry Midwinter’ realistically demonstrates how we can all surmount our different beliefs and practices and come together in loving commonality to share true gifts of recognition, compassion and community. More importantly, it sets out a potential framework of loving awareness and service for life in general, not just for a few days around a solar/religious event.
True Christmas is a state of mind and a way of life… ALL year round!