I’m wishing you a beautiful winter solstice and happy holidays!

What does the holiday season mean to you? And how do you express it through your voice (inner and outer)?

Do you look forward to cookie-baking gatherings, holiday parties, or groan inwardly at the hordes of masses in the mall as you shop for that one special thing for that one special person…or pretty much just anything that might work for the people on your gift list?

What was the most important ritual during the holiday season, in the spiritual or cultural tradition you were raised in?

I’d love to hear your responses on the blog, so please indulge me as I share some childhood Christmas memories.

My family went to the First Presbyterian church in Raymond, South Dakota, a town of now 61 people. That’s an increase from the 2017 census, when it was 50! As I recall, it was something like 117 when I was growing up. I was raised on a farm 11 miles from that tiny town.

I was always an angel in the Christmas Eve pageant, and loved the role, ouchy wings and itchy halo and all. I sang, and loved the traditional holiday carols. We had our rehearsal the same day “Santa” came to town on the one main road, tossing out – from the back of a pickup truck – bags of candy and fruit for we children. Then, we went caroling, and the “town ladies” passed out their homemade candy, like Mrs. Herther’s divinity.

The Christmas Eve service was, to me, heartfully reverent, especially at the end when the lights were dimmed, and the candles were passed out, being lit from one person in a pew to the next. A hush fell over the church, and I felt the peaceful presence of God, just like I did walking through the hills close to our house with Lucy the dog, or riding on the back of my horse, Princess.

My mother came from a family of nine children, and Christmas Day was always at our house. Mom decorated, and we always had a Christmas tree, with presents either under the tree or on the fireplace hearth. Before long, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins started showing up. All the women in my family are great cooks, so the food was always delicious and plentiful. We cousins would sled and toboggan on the hill beyond the shelterbelt, and come in to Dad’s home-churned vanilla ice cream and Mom’s homemade hot fudge sauce. Then we’d play ping pong on the table in the basement. Later, I would often knock out a few tunes on the piano, and some of the relatives would come in to sing with me.

The whole experience, year after year, was Normal Rockwell-esque. And then…I was consistently sad when everyone left…and the day was over.

My childhood holiday memories are precious, and worth reliving, even with the melancholy at the end of the day.

Yet I know it’s not that way for everyone. Some people had lousy holidays if they celebrated holidays at all.

I hope you have fond holiday memories from your youth, and wish you a very Merry Christmas on that holiday, if you celebrate it, and a blessed, fun-filled Saturday either way.

GoFundMe account for 2022 Portland Fertile Ground Festival’s production of Second Chances & New Beginningshttps://gofund.me/072d7484. Thank you, donors!

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Please spread the love and pass this along to a friend!

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,