Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Christmas Rite of Passage

When we connect in to wonder, nature, and the living breathing web we are a part of, we see the moments in our life’s journey that were separated by rites of passages marking our progression and evolution. Some of them are large and some of them are small. And some of them pass with no notice or marking at all.

The passing of a box.

There was a year, after high school, after college, when I moved into a new apartment with my partner. There had been two graduations and a wedding, but there was still a part of me that didn’t feel grown up at all. Until my mom gave me a box of ornaments at Thanksgiving.

There wasn’t a ceremony. On one hand, it was a box of my own belongings. All my life, I had received gifts of ornaments by my parents and grandparents. And to be honest, I had forgotten about some of them. But my mom took a moment and gave me that look moms give where you understand that it’s a “moment” and you should be present and paying attention to it. She and my dad had sorted through the ornaments, setting aside a box for each of us.

It wasn’t a ceremony. It was the passing of a box. And it altered me.

My partner and I shared our first Christmas together that year, my first holiday tree without my family. Except that it wasn’t. Because I was bringing my family and our traditions into the day. And because I was starting new traditions with my new family member.

It wasn’t an ending. It was a cleaving. The ornaments had been part of the whole tree that my family dressed together. And now I was taking that energy and adding it to a new tree, starting our own little tribe.

The passing of a box.

It was overwhelming for me, hanging my old ornaments on a new tree in a new home. I shared the stories of where each ornament came from and what stage of my life I was in then. I have a small pile of ornaments gifted to me by my grandparents. Some have been broken and lost through the years but they are all the more meaningful now because both of my grandparents are gone. And every Christmas that comes is another one without them.

The passing of a box.

I think about that now. I have thought about that every year, making ornaments for my nieces and nephew that may someday adorn their grown up trees. At the holidays we decorate green branches with these small talismans. How do you connect to the items you hang? Do you know their origin stories? Do you know the tale they tell of your life?

And now my tree stands, decorated with ornaments from my adult life, my childhood, from my parents’ life shared with me, and from my grandparents’ life together, passed down after their deaths. My tree is an altar of the joy collected during every holiday I have celebrated, with many more to come.

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