windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (pentacle heart)
I wrote this back in 2012 for Nature Nurtured. That website will be dissolving into the ether in the not-too-distant future, so I wanted to preserve this here. I believe it more than ever.

I wish you a weekend filled with the peace and serenity of being with those who truly love and support you. <3

And, also, maybe some mashed potatoes. :D



Backing Away from Black Friday
Growing up, my parents had a gift closet. The storage cubby operated eleven months of the year as a wonderful lightless cave of flashlight shadow puppets, glow sticks and Lite Brite peg placement but in December, it became the domain of Santa’s helpers and therefore entirely off-limits to me and my older brother. Around that time, I’d be flipping through the catalogs of big chain toy stores and creating elaborate lists of what I wanted, starred and circled with varying degrees of excitement. We were a comfortably middle class household and Christmas, in addition to some quiet carols about Jesus and the presence of the very breakable nativity pieces on the sofa table, was mostly about toys descending en masse down our chimney. Our family photo albums have page after page of me showing off the latest arrivals—the Cabbage Patch doll that looked like me (and which my mom won a foot race against another shopper to snatch up), the big plastic playsets for my armies of plastic toys, and an ever-increasing library of video games for our Atari and, later, Nintendo systems. We had so much that our spare bedroom was a dedicated toy room.

That sort of consumer-driven holiday seemed perfectly natural to me. As a teenager, I spent hours in the mall (and an impressive amount of discretionary income) to ensure that I’d bought a lotion and bubble bath basket, a classic red sweater, a heating pad, a reading light, a gift card, or somethinganything—for every member of my family and my circle of friends and acquaintances. Only a Scrooge would forego that time-honored tradition of giving!

As a pagan parent, though, I’m beginning to doubt the whole endeavor. I’m the sucker who cries at every ‘spirit of Christmas’ movie that’s ever been created and yet, I wonder what the myth of Santa does to the hearts of children whose parents and caretakers can’t afford piles of presents. Do they worry, even subconsciously, that they’ve ended up on Santa’s naughty list when they get a package of dollar store crayons instead of the bike they’d asked him for? Do they feel abandoned by the Divine when the all-knowing, all-seeing jolly old elf fails to appear at their home? Can Santa’s largesse feel exclusionary to those who witness classmates bragging about what they got under the tree? These are questions I’ve really struggled with.

I tried keeping Santa out of our home, along with Christianity, and I discovered just how omnipresent the guy in the red suit is. He seeped into my son’s life when I wasn’t looking—in stores, on packaging, and even through playground conversations with other, Santa-savvier toddlers and preschoolers. I’d loved the part the Christmas myth had played in my own childhood—was I right to try and bar it from my son’s? Maybe some happy middle ground was called for.

I’m ever a work-in-progress when it comes to parenting according to my values as a pagan, living mindfully enough that my choices line up with my beliefs. Some years, I’m better at avoiding the trap of heightened name-brand consumption and some years, it is too tempting and feels infinitely easier to visit Target to buy something mass-produced for every loved one on my list. I don’t always meet my goal of giving thought-filled gifts of true value and significance. I don’t always get around to making something or finding just the right artisan to purchase from, but there is one simple thing that I’ve done that makes sure I start the holiday season with an act of powerful intention.

I’ve ditched Black Friday completely–that day of attractive sales, early hours, and shopping mania that occurs right after Thanksgiving’s feasting. I don’t read the sale flyers. I ignore the ‘door buster deals’ and the free-with-purchase snow globes and lap blankets and dancing, burping reindeer toys. I choose not to participate in the frenzy of buying. I’ve happily opted out of the whole experience. Instead, I enjoy the entire holiday weekend with my family in the cozy comfort of our own home. I have enough to be thankful for without needing to fill the car with more. I embrace the holiday by decorating my house, putting out corn for the deer, and watching those Santa films that make me cry instead of waiting restlessly outside a store to snag the latest in things-I’m-told-I-can’t-live-without. I choose to slow down, instead of speed up, and to give myself the chance to make different, more soul-fulfilling choices in how I express my love, my thanks, and my friendship to those around me. I want my son to experience winter as something sacred, spiritual, and special. I want Yule to be the warmth of a shared meal, the dawn of newfound hope and goodwill, the crackle of a comforting fire and the solidarity of a renewed family bond. Those are the things I’ve never felt amidst the loud bustle and over-bright displays of retailers vying for my money.

I wonder if it’d do us all a world of good if we, as a community, backed away from Black Friday…if we dumped the catalogs into the recycling bins and started from scratch with our children on their winter wish lists. What do they really want? Do they want a Dora the Explorer backpack or do they really want to go on adventures in the out of doors? Do they want a karaoke set or do they really want a way to feel their voices are heard? Do they want the latest greatest video game system or just a way to spend time together with someone? Do our loved ones really need whatever the big companies are selling this year—or do they simply need to know that we value their place in our lives?

In my family, we’ve chosen to believe in the spirit of Santa. He isn’t at the mall, for us, but rather part of our home, our hearth, and our hearts. He doesn’t buy the magic he distributes each year—he makes it.

This year, I’m attempting to do the same. I aspire to staying out of the big stores and making different choices with my money and my time. I might not succeed, entirely, but I’ll start by embracing Thanksgiving weekend as an opportunity to spend a gloriously long weekend at home with my family and all that we have, already, to be thankful for.

windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (meadow fae)
I didn't get any submissions for the May issue of Nature Nurtured. But, despite the lack of an issue, there IS still a prize giveaway this month.

Basically, win three books of your choice for you, your children, your family. Now, I'm hoping they'll be somewhat related to the mission of Nature Nurtured to craft and nurture a more magickal home life. Maybe a book on crocheting or a book of Buddhist philosophy or some books on herbal remedies or paganism or divinatory practices. Your call. One randomly chosen commenter will win their three book selections!

The only rules are, for legal reasons, that the winner must be at least 18 years old and have a United States address they can use for shipping.

Please, I hope you'll consider entering.

:) That'd make something good out of something sad. :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (meadow fae)
After a week of working on wrapping up loose ends, I'm finally done with the Ostara-themed March issue of Nature Nurtured.

I hope that you'll go read it, comment where you feel so moved, and enter the prize giveaway.

I'm really proud of this little seedling of mine and where it is growing. <3
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
Today was a big day. Nature Nurtured my family-oriented web site for a pagan and earth-reverent lifestyle launched with its debut 'issue', The Warmth of Winter. I'm very happy with it as a start and have a ton of ideas for where to go in future months. I hope you'll wish me luck and, if you are pagan, give it a look. :)

I've got monthly giveaways on the site and from now until December 10th, we're taking entries in sweepstakes to win one of three handmade "Merry Meet" altar plates from Sweetwater Pottery.

So yeah...that's my baby. :D <3 It only took me five years to get a move on and make it happen. :)

If you know anyone who'd be benefited by the site--whether as a paid contributor or as a reader, please let them know about it. :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (ocean heart)

Laura ([ profile] twelvepetals) has done an amazing job this month putting together not only the utilitarian framework for my pagan family site,, but also crafting a serene, modern, and welcoming look for it with her graphic design. It is everything I'd hoped for and more. The collaboration has poured magic into my big, vague ideas and steered me towards more inclusivity and bigger potential audiences. She, very rightly, encouraged the change towards 'family' instead of simply 'parenting' on the assumption that many families may want to live a magical home life filled with glitter-dusted pinecones and handmade wrapping paper and they don't all have young children like I do. I hadn't ever considered that what I had to say, what I wanted to share and find and strive to embody for my children might have a bigger appeal. But maybe it will if I don't limit my scope quite so intentionally.

The doors will open, with advertising space on the main page of The Wild Hunt, on December 1st and I need help to make it a page worth visiting and worth remembering to visit again. If it is big and beautiful and interesting, I believe it will grow and attract great monthly submissions from more and more like-minded and lovely folks that I don't yet know are out there. I think it can kindle the comfort of community in the hearts of solitaries currently going it alone and I wholeheartedly believe it can pour good and mutual benefit throughout pagandom. But for any of that to happen, I need to take a running jump at the launch and make it the best start I can muster. I desperately need and want your help. You, who inspire me with your hearts, your insights, and your many varied talents, you are the secret to this whole ambitious plan taking off. I've got hold of an awfully big kite and I need a lot of help right now. Will you run with me, into flight?

I'm looking for submissions. Photos you took that make your heart rise, artwork that you or your children have made that celebrate the Earth and Her many Mysteries, insights into your life as a forest-wandering spellwalker or devoted kitchen witch. I'm looking for fond memories and rich traditions and the crafts that bring joy to an afternoon's free time. I'm hoping for windows into your pagan homeschool practices and the work you do, as priests and priestesses and builders of community to welcome children into your midst. I'm looking to find people whose passions fuel and are fueled by their spiritual journey. I'm looking for you...with all that you have to contribute to the whole.


Please, I hope you'll consider contributing to our community with your unique perspective. We are taking submissions focusing on Winter, the holiday season, and Yule right now, but we are always open to anything you have to share. There are no contracts or exclusivity agreements. If you submit your work, and I choose to post it, I'll offer you $5-$20 for that piece. You decide whether you want to proceed and you're free to redistribute your work, as you will, forevermore. I'm not buying rights to anything that you've created--I'm just saying, "Thank you for taking the time. We couldn't do this without you."

We are taking submissions for the launch between now and November 20th. Please mail what you have, if you're interested, to us at If you know of someone that should be part of our site--pagan parents, artisans, writers, bloggers, photographers, artists, or simply nature-hearted--please feel free to refer them to me. <3


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