Merry Solstice

Merry Solstice

solstice Christmas tree with Elsie catWhatever the name of the event you’re celebrating, Happy It. The one thing that all the festivities happening at the time of the winter solstice have in common is that they are celebrations of life and giving and sacrifice.

It’s supposed to be a happy time and that is exactly why it often isn’t. One thing I always enjoy, in my jaundiced view of the hype of buying and getting and enforced cheeriness, is giving away. Money, time or stuff – no matter how grinch-like I’ve felt, writing cheques for charity and putting money in the Salvation Army kettles always makes me feel good.

Charities rely on that feeling of goodwill in people. Food banks need the festive season generosity of donors for the bleak months that follow. When people are still paying off December debts and, in our hemisphere, feeling the cold and dark of winter, donations drop. The reserve from December gets them through.

Animal shelters need money and supplies to deal with the numbers of animals dumped on them during and after the Big Day(s). The puppy, so cute with a big red bow, a month later is making a mess in the house that nobody has time to deal with, so out puppy goes. “She needs a home where somebody’s home all day,” they say to shelter staff tired after having heard that 20 times that day.

Food banks, soup kitchens, animal shelters: all staffed by volunteers who also would like some time off for holiday celebrations. They know their work will increase in the coming months. But people and animals still need to eat every day. So if you’re not doing anything – and even if you are – can you spare a few hours? Can you serve at the church basement dinner so that one of the regular workers can put his or her feet up and relax?

Charlie under tree opening presents

Easy Solstice giving

When you’re knocking fellow shoppers over at Wal-Mart to get the last-minute toy for your kid’s gift list, why not grab a second one? Give it to some other kid who won’t be getting it from his parents. When you’re getting a new hair bow for Fifi because it’s so cute, why not pick up a dog brush for your local animal shelter? They always need leashes, collars, bowls and supplies. If you don’t have a bird feeder, buy one and a bag of seed for your spouse or kid. It’s a long, cold winter for little birds.

When you’re figuring out your holiday meal place settings, add another one for a neighbour who is alone. Or maybe they’d rather not join your family but would appreciate a hot plate of food or a homemade pie.

cats under Christmas tree photo D Stewart

I spent one Christmas alone in a new apartment. I’d made toys for the cats and was happy to spend the day with them. Then my landlord’s son came to my door, holding a foil-wrapped plate. “Mom thought you might like this,” he said and scurried away. It was the most delicious Christmas meal ever, and not just because she was a good cook. It was that they had thought of me. Have a wonderful Solstice and Season.

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