The Truest GiftDec 02, 2021 04:46PM ● By Daralyn Chase
For me, the long nights and short days of this time of year always take a little getting used to, especially when the effect is supercharged overnight by daylight savings time. But once I settle into the quiet, I appreciate it as a natural time of rest and inner growth, perhaps the truest gift of the holiday season. It invites me to slow down and experience each day more thoughtfully and purposefully as we move toward the not-so-distant spring.
Of course I love warm weather; I moved to the Gulf Coast for a reason. Yet being outside here in winter can be just as invigorating, inspiring and mood-setting as a perfect summer day. I am fascinated by the lacy patterns bare branches make against a steel-gray sky, stop to stare at the winter moon and stars during late-evening dog walks, eagerly watch clouds mingle through the pinks and purples of an early sunset, love hearing the crisp sound of waves crashing onto an empty beach. A brisk walk in the forest, or even just watching the birds at my backyard feeders, helps me refocus after hours of sitting at my keyboard.
This month’s Inspiration column, “Season of Light,” page 40, perfectly captures the ancient soul of winter, whose traditions and celebrations invite introspection while offering the promise of brighter days. That’s also the idea behind one of our local traditions, WinterFest, in Fort Walton. Jan Myers began hosting the event at her intuitive spiritual center, Stone Soup, to acknowledge winter solstice and give people an opportunity to gather and celebrate it in their own way. See pages 10 and 11 for details.
Last year’s pandemic-related uncertainties—there was even a Christmas tree shortage—shook up many of our holiday traditions. While things are gradually getting back to normal, I’m hoping that we’ll continue to apply the lessons we learned about what’s really important and necessary for our holiday celebrations. Our article “Greening the Holidays,” page 32, offers excellent ideas for celebrating more sustainably, including eco-friendly feasts, responsible decorations and gift wrap, and thoughtful, life-affirming gifts. And don’t miss “Holiday Zen,” page 30, for advice on staying fit and stress-free during what can be a hectic season.
Consider extending the holiday spirit this year by donating your time or money to a local nonprofit (perhaps in someone’s name, as a gift), and continuing that support after the holidays, when it may be needed even more. Help a friend, neighbor or stranger who could use your assistance and your smile. Reminisce with loved ones to honor the memories of those no longer with us. And please continue to be kind and forgiving to others and to yourself.
On behalf of everyone at Natural Awakenings of Northwest Florida, I wish you a peaceful holiday season filled with laughter, warmth, hope, love, gratitude and all things that bring you joy. I encourage you to spend time outside each day, taking in the details of the ever-changing season and finding new meaning and inspiration in the the natural world around you.