In fact, the New Year isn’t actually the greatest time for New Years resolutions. Consider the energy of solstice and winter and you’ll see that winter doesn’t lend itself well to lots of action plans, which is why those resolutions don’t tend to stick come mid-January. Save your major action for spring-time, and for now, play with some other rituals that are more in alignment with what winter is all about.
Here are a few of my personal favorites:
Connect with nature – Ready for a crash course in religious tolerance? The ritual of decorating
with holly and pine during the winter originates from a Pagan tradition, and was picked up by Christians during the Victorian era. Symbols of everlasting life are uplifting to all of us, so bring some signs of vibrant life into your space. Buy some indoor plants or evergreens. Try smudging your house with some sage, pine, or sweetgrass. (To do a smudging, start at the front door with your incense or smudge stick in a bowl. Move the incense around each door and window, and go through each room, following along the lines of the walls.) Add a small intention as you go, if you like.
Call in the light – many religions celebrate a holiday during the winter with a focus on light, symbolizing the light among the darkness. Who doesn’t love a good bonfire, right? Maybe a candle ceremony, a fire in your fireplace during meditation, or a good sit in front of your own Christmas lights would suffice. Try a candle ceremony before a family meal, perhaps, such as one in which the oldest at the table begins lighting everyone else’s candle saying, “Share this light.” or “You are made of light.” Quick, simple, and beautiful.
Cultivate heart-centered family time – a mindful meal together, a volunteer event, or a family game night should aim to nourish your most important connections. If you have kids (or even if you don’t) try the snowman game: divide into two groups, set the timer for a few minutes and have each team decorate a “snowman” with a roll of toilet paper, scarves, old hats, etc. It’s a blast.
Make something from scratch – cook, bake, or take on a holiday craft. Winter can be a great time for honing in your creative side -- all the better if it’s something you’re doing with no training, just for the fun of trying something new. I love painting on those wet, winter days when I have the house to myself. I’ve never taken a class (probably never will), but every now and then something shows up on my re-used canvas that’s impressive, if even only for a while!
Create an alter – pick up some mistletoe, pine, or holly; light a candle; use some beautiful linens; add meaningful keepsakes, such as a crystal, a mini-nativity, or a memento. Use the alter as a place to meditate, seek guidance, or express your gratitude.
Declutter – consider all you’ve accumulated in the last year. Got pants that are too small? A plant that never grew? A gift that you never liked? Get rid of it! You do not have to keep things that you don’t like, can’t use, or that don’t serve you anymore. The less clutter you have physically sitting around, the easier it is to function mentally and emotionally. So donate, reorganize, file, and get rid of that old stuff. If you feel up to a little bit of movement, clean your windows, curtains, and mini-blinds to let the sun in as much as possible. The idea is to prepare the space so that it feels really good to be in your house.Solstice calls for deeper, stronger connections: to ourselves, our loved ones, and the spaces we occupy. Spend some time considering what works for you.