Grackle & Sun

Elevensies!

Happy Solstice, everybody, and happy first day of Elevensies!

The long, dark night is almost over.  Brighter days are ahead.

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What is Elevensies, you say?  Let me tell you.  No, I’m not referring to the meal between second breakfast and lunch, although the name is lovingly borrowed from Tolkien’s hobbits as a play on their undeniable understanding of the importance of merriment, good food, and good company, for Elevensies is all about these things.  The long and short of it is that we are not religious folk, and we could not in good conscience continue celebrating a holiday which belongs to a religion of which we are not a part.  But we love all the mid-winter festivities and deeply believe in the importance of maintaining meaningful traditions.  So when the kids were young, Husband and I sat down together and thought of all the things that were important and not important to us, and then we made our own holiday.  And we named it Elevensies.

Elevensies is the celebration of the (typically) eleven days between the Winter Solstice and the New Year.  It is all about the celebration of life in the dark of winter.  It is about honouring seasons and cycles, nature and humanity.  It is about family and togetherness and sharing merriment, good food, and good company with those you love.  It is about being mindful of what is important and casting off that which is not.  Elevensies is about generosity, but it is not about things—although we do get a few small gifts and surprise each other on different days.  Instead, we wanted the focus to be on doing, not buying.  So instead of giving presents, on each day of Elevensies, we do something fun altogether as a family.  It might be simple like going to the movies (which is a treat for us) or it might be something more elaborate like taking a rock climbing class together (shhhhh—the kids don’t know about this one yet).  Traditionally, there is always a day when we go to a bookstore (my daughter’s favorite) and also a day when we make gifts to give to our family members who celebrate Christmas.  We do spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with our respective families, because we recognize that it is important to them, and we’re cool with that.  Sharing those moments are part of Elevensies, too.

We begin Elevensies on the Solstice by decorating the house and remembering that even on the darkest night (and this year, a cold one!),  there is always light and warmth when you are surrounded by people who love you.  Husband takes a fair chunk of vacation time for Elevensies each year, so it’s a holiday in more ways than one, and we all look forward to this relaxed time together.  At the end of Elevensies, on New Year’s Eve, we clean the whole house from top to bottom, smudge it real good, beat pots and pans and make a ruckus, and then at midnight, sweep out the old year and let the New Year in.  This is a tradition taught to us by the Haggencrone, Husband’s grandmother, and it is a very good one.  All it takes is a broom and a firm intention.  Finally, we end Elevensies with our annual New Year’s Togetherness party.   Togetherness is an open house potluck on January 1st, and all our friends and family are invited.  It’s been nicknamed Empanadafest, because my husband, who learned how to make delicious Puerto Rican empanadillas from my mother, sits in the kitchen all day making empanadas as fast as people will eat them.  Last year we packed 65 people in our house, and his empanada count was in the triple digits, lol.  It is a wonderful and auspicious way to start the year.

I wish you all a very wonderful Elevensies in addition to whatever holidays you celebrate.  May this be a time of magical marvelousness and blessed togetherness for you.   And remember, all traditions first began with an idea, a belief, and a person saying, “Let’s do this.”  Traditions and the rituals surrounding them are spoken in the language of our subconscious minds and also of our hearts—that is to say, with imagery, symbols, senses, and feelings.  It is important to pay attention to them, to give them space to expand.  We make our own meaning in life, and our lives should reflect what we most deeply believe.

Merriest of the Merry!

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18 thoughts on “Elevensies!

  1. What a beautiful tradition! I hope ya’ll take the time for a few second breakfast’s here and there as well! :) Happy Elevensies!

  2. Love this. I never got any further than refusing to take part in the madness, since I don’t have kids to please.

  3. Oh, I love this!! We have three separate celebrations – Solstice, Xmas and New Years. But to extend it over the entire period in this manner makes it such a more wonderful fluid movement into the new secular year. Hmmmm. How to incorporate into our life . . . .

  4. In my family we are pretty laid back – some years we do big celebrations, some years we don’t even decorate – but I never thought of having a sort of plan to be sure to include the parts I love best over a certain amount of time. It’s a fantastic idea!

  5. Yes yes yes!! Tradition is so much more important than the general public gives credit for- thank you for highlighting the importance of traditions, rhythm, and making oral tradition an important way of life to your children… a wise investment, Mother… :) Dre, thank you so so much for the blog award! I’m looking forward to spiffing my dusty rhythm-keeper up and welcoming in a fresh new year! Blogging isn’t easy without the internet, haha! Hope this week is lovely for you and your family…blessings!!

    -{e}

  6. I love this tradition, and the name :)

  7. What a great tradition. I’m not a fan of the commercial side of the holidays and I always find I turn towards the light for comfort at this time of year. Living in the north light is really limited but spectacular! You and your family have it right, to enjoy each other, making this time of year magical! Thank you for sharing!

  8. Pingback: Elevensies is Here! | Grackle & Sun

  9. Pingback: Mookies and the New Year | Grackle & Sun

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