Are you ready for some winter magic? Come and join our midwinter dinner and ritual. It’s a little late this year, but at winter solstice some of us were away. Each year we gather around the fire for our midwinter feast and story telling. This year we were not just two families but three. We had the addition of a Chinese mum from Play Centre and her two children. Then there was my friend and her 12 year old daughter. Our 19 year old was sick and unable to be there this year, sadly.
This is the tray I prepared, with little tea light candles from Bali. They were a gift and had been waiting for a special occasion.
What’s going to happen?
First we must set to work on our feast.
We were so hungry that I didn’t get to photograph the food. I wish I’d got a shot of the steamed pudding that I made, with blue flames shooting from it (after a little dowse with whiskey). But I’m sure you can imagine it. We had a fusion meal: Chinese, traditional English, and newly created NZ food.
Then we gathered around the fire. Each person had been asked to bring a story to tell, or a song to sing. My friend’s twelve-year old began by reading her speech on fairies. We were entranced! Then my friend shared two photos of her making a wood stack, and read a Mary Oliver poem about wood.
My daughter-in-law held up a Chinese story book about new year, and translated it for us. It was very touching. Her Chinese friend told about growing up in West China, where it was very cold, but excellent for fruit growing. The melons were big and juicy and everyone had big melons stored under their beds over winter. They would sit and eat melons around the fire.
My son told a touching story of finding love, and I told a story about lost and found, which I will share with you next time.
After each person had told their story, they were invited to light a candle and make a wish. ‘Oh, how shall I choose?’ said the twelve-year old, and ‘I can’t bear to light it; it looks so pretty just as it is.’
But she did. The smallest ones were too shy to contribute, but they were completely still and quiet, absorbed in the magic.
And one by one they lit a candle and made a wish. By this time all the lights were out, and we just had the light of the fire and the flickering candle flames. ‘Let’s finish with a song,’ I said, and we all linked hands. ‘What shall it be?’ I said. ‘I can’t think of a song.’ Then I began ‘I go with my little lantern,’ a song sung at the Steiner School, and who should pipe up loud and clear and lead the song but our little one (now why wasn’t I surprised at that?).
Our family is increasing as we embrace other small families and build our traditions together.