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A time for letting Go — A time for celebrating — A time for going Fallow

Thanksgiving has always been a threshold for me. As a child in New England, it was the reminder that Fall was on the wane and winter was just around the corner. By that time, trees were bare, and skies were grey. The gathering of our extended family around the holiday table was a time to dress up and be on one’s best behavior. Most magically, it was the start of the Christmas season, which was festive at home.

Mom loved Christmas, the decorating, the baking, the carols, all of it. She was American by birth and raised in England. Whenever I hear the traditional English carol, Good King Wenceslas, her favorite, I’m flooded with warmth. I’m not sure if memories of her childhood Christmases sparked her magical holiday glow, but she certainly had one. If she had lived long enough for me to become an adult, I would have known to ask her about them.

I carried on her love of the season between Thanksgiving and the New Year. I created the same magic for my children while secretly I basked in the glow of their wonder-filled faces, reflecting that familiar mother’s love back to me. But the years pass, children grow, and life changes yet again. With marriages, in-laws, and new jobs, old traditions lapse into memory, and adaptation, flexibility, and compromise become the new themes. Now we’re squeezing Christmas stockings, a meal, a gift, and the toast, “ Slàinte!” in where we can.

All of these changes have allowed something ancient to emerge. So it is, with every ending, there is a new beginning. I just turned sixty-five, and as I age, I’ve become more aware of the cycle of the seasons and the endless rounds of beginnings, endings, birth, life, death, and rebirth.

By struggling and learning to release my expectations around the holidays, I have discovered Thanksgiving is just that. It’s an opportunity to give thanks for all that has transpired in the past year: the good and the hard, the sorrowful and the joyful, goals achieved, the dreams fulfilled, and the love gathered and shared. I’ve learned to be thankful for the past gatherings while becoming less frustrated with the current ones.

Over the past few years, I have found this time of lengthening nights and ever-colder dark between the holidays to be a time of letting go. Nature begins to go to ground; animals retreat to their dens, and geese migrate, leaving the fields barren and empty. This is the time I empty myself of the unfinished work of the year, the dreams unfulfilled, goals unmet, and plans unfinished. I release them into the Santa Anna winds that rush down from the high desert, singing through the canyons, beckoning to give them the unfinished, the disappointments, grief, fears, and doubts of the year. I journal, make lists, write, burn some, and bury others. Others are left behind to wither on the sidewalk, having slipped off my weary shoulders as I walk, and walk, and walk in the cold, thin morning light. This letting go is an emptying without a compensatory re-filling. Descending further into the darkness and welcoming emptiness, I take a deep breath and wait for the next turning and the return of the light.

Solstice, Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza all celebrate the return of the Light. This celebration of the light over the darkness is evidence of the turning of the cosmos, the passing of time, and the seasons. It is the gift of cycles that are eternal and constant, a promise never broken, a pledge never betrayed.

Here is the reassurance that darkness will not last forever, that the underworld is a place of preparation and initiation. As the light grows stronger, little by little, day by day, from Solstice until early spring, it’s time for deep rest to prepare for rebirth.

It‘s time to go fallow.

No New Year's resolutions, only deep rest. No plans yet. It’s time to dream, imagine, drift, meander, allow, and just be. No “shoulds or musts” in the land of deep psyche now. Only free-floating rest.

Trust the process that nature shows us year after year after year. When Persephone rolls over for the first time in Spring, you will know; her shoulder will nudge yours, her hand will brush your cheek. You and the earth will begin to warm and stir.

Then will be the time to allow seeds from your winter dreams to emerge. Then will be the time to begin to plan and sow your seeds for the year to come.

Now, we are in — A Time for Letting Go —

Soon — A Time for Celebrating the Return of the Light —

Then — A Time for Going Fallow —

May the great cycles lead you onward.


Dr. A.

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