For some of us, it is officially the holiday season, and I want to take a moment to point out that the holidays are complicated any other year, and even more so in 2020. I want you to know that it’s okay to acknowledge how hard it is.
So this month, instead of an essay, I want to give you a spiritual practice, a grief/sadness and gratitude/joy ritual.
Grab 4 candles and a lighter or box of matches, and find a place to sit and relax.
You are going to light the 4 candles one by one, naming something you’re grieving as you light each candle (you can use more than 4 of course, just don’t overwhelm yourself with too many things to name). Then, sit and look at the candles. Center into your body. Take a few deep breaths, and say to yourself, “I honor this pain and this grief. I acknowledge it in my body and around me.” Then, when you’re ready, blow out the 4 candles.
Take a few deep breaths, and light each candle again, only this time, name something that gives you joy, that you’re grateful for, something you’re maybe looking forward to, as you light each one. When you’re done, sit with those things for a moment. Then say to yourself, “I honor this joy, and I acknowledge that we can hold both grief and joy in our bodies and lives, and that’s what it means to be human.” And then, when you’re ready, blow out the candles.
And that’s it. It’s short and simple, it can take as long as you need it to take, and you can repeat it as much as you need to throughout the holidays. I did this exercise with both my children separately. We each had our candles and we named these things out loud to and with one another as we lit the candles. It was a beautiful way to acknowledge what’s hard and beautiful.
This exercise can also easily work virtually, if you’d like to do it with a friend or loved one that is far away.
2020 has been a hell of a year, and with COVID numbers on the rise, it will be a hell of a holiday season. So, go gentle, please. Hold space for yourself and others. Name your grief and your joy, and let it all sit intermingled. This is what it means to be human.
Have you caught any of the conversations in my new series, WHO IS AMERICA? Tonight is my last conversation with Dr. Teri Murphy, but if you weren’t able to make it to any of them, don’t worry, they are all available on my Instagram feed!
Each of these conversations nourished and taught me so much, and reminded me why solidarity work is so important right now and always. I hope you’ll listen in and share the videos with others who are asking who America is to them in this time.
I’m booking events for 2021, and especially excited to continue to talk about the writing process and #NativeBook with audiences of all backgrounds. If you’re interested in booking me to speak, you can contact me through my agent’s website.
Now, on to the good stuff. Here is your 2020 Holiday Guide! These are gifts/events that I am really excited about, and I want to pass them along to you as you consider yourself and your loved ones this holiday season.
Shop Indigenous! An incredible online marketplace for all things Indigenous is now available, and I hope you’ll check it out. Note: I often get asked if non-Native people can buy Native-made stuff. My opinion is YES! You are supporting Indigenous artists when you buy what we make/write/create.
Shop Indie! Buy books from a local bookstore. 2020 hit our local bookshops hard this year, and we need to continue to support them. Instead of shopping on Amazon, check out the amazing gift bundles that bookstores are putting together for readers of all types! One I am really excited about is this Self-Care/Spirituality gift guide from Charis Books, a feminist bookshop in Atlanta, featuring my new book, Native: Identity, Belonging and Rediscovering God, among others that look absolutely amazing!
Shop Spiritual Experiences! Here’s the thing. I think a lot of us are learning in 2020 how important it is to invest in our own spiritual care, and I hate that it took a pandemic for some of us to realize it. Instead of giving a physical gift to yourself or someone you love, give an experience that will nourish their bodies and souls for years to come. First, this e-course by the amazing activist and public theologian Christena Cleveland—it’s called Liberating the Mind-Body-Spirit from White Supremacy, and this is something we all need right now. Another opportunity is from Indigenous teacher Lee Spence (check her out on Instagram here), who is offering a monthly membership to a community called Modern Ancestors, where you’ll join others for monthly courses and guided meditations, to honor and remember your ancestors and ground yourself in the ancestor that you already are. This is a beautiful gift to give this holiday season. It launches TODAY! So give yourself or someone else an early holiday gift to guide you through the season and beyond.
Shop Stationary! So many of us won’t be with our loved ones this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t communicate how much your loved ones mean to you. This holiday season, send out cards to friends and family and remember why community matters, especially in times like these. I love buying stationary from Etsy, because there are so many amazing artists to choose from. And remember, your local bookstores will also sell stationary, so check that out as well!
And happy holidays!
“Catch it if you can. The present is an invisible electron; its lightning path traced faintly on a blackened screen is fleet, and fleeing, and gone.” —Annie Dillard