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the peacemaker’s holiday

2013 December 23
by Rachel Turiel

Dan told the kids as we headed out the door for a hike on December 21st, “winter solstice is one of the older holidays.” So true! What a relief. It’s nondenominational, requires no marketing, no frenzied baking, and rarely generates any awkward  moments. It’s the peacemaker of holidays.


Visiting with Old Mother Juniper.solstice4


Yucca with background snowy mesas. (When you live in the Southwest, you get to call flattish hills mesas. It’s a perk).


There’s a special spot we like to visit on winter solstice. The angle of the sun + blocky red sandstone + small pinyon fire = enough warmth to cast off your jacket even on the shortest day of the year. I kept trying to encourage everyone to get devotional and expressive about winter, or the sun or something, until I realized we can mark extraordinary days by simply being our ordinary selves, together.

Dan found and followed six bull elk down in the valley through his binoculars. Col tended the fire. Rose made the biggest stink about going on a hike, and then had the most fun once we arrived.

The kids built miniature clay ovens for roasting plantain chips, as congenial and kind as two people who didn’t the night before squabble for twenty minutes over who would be the red player in Catan Junior. Somehow being outside evaporates sibling snark, as if the air is too clean, too dry, too expansive for it to stick.

How is it possible that he’s almost NINE? This is the eternal mystery of parenting.





Fire starter made by Col at Frosty Pines: pinyon and fir cones, leaves, needles, and lichen bonded with bees wax. Worked like a charm.solstice11


When entering sketchy caves, send your sister in first.

And now, the daylight returns (at the infinitesimal uptick of one minute each day). But that’s OK, right? We’re not yet ready to turn over our introspective, windshield-scraping, indoor-huddling days to the easy streets of spring. Right?

We’re heading out on an exciting vacation which includes 4 beloved grandparents and a beloved beach. I’ll check in when I can. You guys and your comments are endlessly uplifting and funny and I’m grateful for that.



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