Yule’s emphasis (for me at any rate) is on family and community. The coming together, the sharing of food—it all strengthens the bonds between individuals as we move into the harsh winter months.
This is the day where our family puts aside its differences and sits down to dinner together. Now, this is no small feat considering my husband’s parents have been divorced only a year longer than he and I have been married. But this year, it seems like enough time has passed that conversation has moved from being stiffly civil to semi-lively. It’s more than any of the kids could have hoped a few years ago.
Our family has mixed feelings about gifts. My generation, aka hubby and his siblings, have decided not to do gifts, and have been greatly enjoying the freedom we feel from giving up the practice. We still make each other food—cookies, roasted nuts, etc.—but we’ve released each other from the obligation of hitting the mall in search of things that we don’t really need. Grandpa, however, delights in giving things to his children still, and wants nothing in return. I think he would be sad if he couldn’t express himself that way. And my son, well, this is certainly a holiday for children, and he’s been enjoying the spoils, as it were!
Our family has been making room for all manner of traditions during the season. Gifting, not gifting; vegan diet, gluten free diet, paleo diet; tree, no tree. It’s been wonderful to see our progress, making space for the things we like, weeding through the things we don’t. And it’s even more wonderful to realize that we can continue to evolve our practices as we grow and change. This is what tradition should be: repeated activities which strengthen and inspire the people who perpetuate them.
Merry Yule to all, and to all a good night!