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Living in Season Newsletter

Living in Season
The official newsletter of the School of the Seasons
Volume 1, number 18
November 19, 2003, Mary, Mother of Divine Providence


  • Welcome
  • Update: November and National Novel Writing Month
  • Living in Season: New Traditions for Thanksgiving
  • Advent of Advent: Advent Offerings
  • Current Offerings: Winter Correspondence Course
  • Early Notice: Midwinter Holiday Packet
  • Copyright
  • Subscribe - Unsubscribe

Welcome to my periodical newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life. And a special welcome to the many new subscribers from Beliefnet. Please forward this newsletter if you enjoy it.

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My Days of the Dead altar is still up and will be until November 30th, the day which marks the end of the month of the dead for the Irish. I like to think of this whole month as the month of the ancestors and spend time looking through old family photographs,

But this month I haven't had the quiet time I would like during the quiet, dark, rainy days of November because I signed on to participate in National Novel Writing Month. This means I'm writing 1,666 words a day on my new novel, a sequel to the detective novel I started four years ago which was just picked up by a New York agent.

National Novel Writing month is a contest sponsored by a website which encourages writers to challenge themselves and compete with other writers to produce 50,000 words in one month (which isn't exactly a complete novel, more like a detailed outline). I've never written this fast before-the last novel took two years to write and one to revise-but I thought it was time to try something new. So far, I'm happy with the results. I've written over 25,000 words in 15 days and it gets easier every day. But it remains to be seen if I can revise it into something readable.

To learn more about National Novel Writing Month, go to:

Living in Season: New Traditions for Thanksgiving
I'm not a big fan of Thanksgiving. During my childhood it meant boring dinners with relatives and a spread of food that didn't particularly interest me (except for my mother's marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole and the cranberry turkeys my Aunt Jo made with a cookie cutter and slices of canned cranberry). Later, when I was in college, I avoided it as a holiday of cultural appropriation, a myth cooked up to condone white conquest of North America.

For a few years, when my daughter and I were invited to Thanksgiving dinners at Bright House, the home of Helen Farias and James Carrell, Thanksgiving was what it should be: a glittering occasion of good food and good conversation. But sadly, those days are gone,

I like staying at home on Thanksgiving and having a small intimate dinner. My favorite main dish is a sophisticated squash stew served with cornbread and green beans with mustard. But too often, I am swept up instead in some well-meaning friend's attempt to provide me with a family Thanksgiving experience - usually a hodge-podge of assorted Thanksgiving orphans - and a strained attempt to find some common ground over the carcass of a turkey.

So naturally I've been researching alternative ways to celebrate Thanksgiving. Here are some of the favorite ideas I've gathered:

Susan Abel Lieberman in her book on new traditions suggests using the post-turkey time on Thanksgiving to go through all the photographs taken during the year and put them in albums. I love the way this concept combines the notion of preserving memories with the gathering of family.

Earlier on in the day, over the dinner table, you might simply ask everyone present to talk about the things for which they are thankful. Dominique Browning, the editor of House & Garden, described her reaction when her hostess at a Thanksgiving dinner announced that this was a family tradition. "It's the kind of tradition that makes you groan with anxiety, and then, unexpectedly with the pleasure of listening to people open their hearts."

Last Thanksgiving, writer Hanne Blank featured on her web site a wonderful piece riffing off the mantra of a woman Zen master: "Thank you for everything. I have no complaints whatsoever." She used it as a launching point into looking at the ways unpleasant experiences had affected and strengthened her.

And my friend, Elizabeth Grey, has a wonderful Thanksgiving practice of writing a list of 100 things she is grateful for. I'm lucky to be on this list sometimes and to receive a copy of it via email.

Blank, Hanne, www.hanneblank.com
Browning, Dominique, "Family, Food & Friends," House & Garden,
November 2002
Lieberman, Susan Abel,
New Traditions: Redefining Celebration for Today's Family, Noonday Press 1991

The Advent of Advent
OAdvent is celebrated by Catholics with a candle-lighting ceremony on the four Sundays preceding Christmas. Thus Pagan Advent ceremonies, like those described by Helen Farias in her book The Advent SunWheel, would be most appropriately celebrated on the four Sundays before Winter Solstice. Since the Solstice this year falls on a Sunday, I believe the two Advents coincide.

If you're interested in new ideas for celebrating this magical time of waiting for the return of the Sun (or the Son), check out my article on Advent.

Or order The Advent Sunwheel, Helen Farias's collection of four tales of the Scandinavian winter deities, appropriate for reading at Advent gatherings, along with recipes and other ideas for celebrating Advent. $12 plus $2 shipping & handling; allow 10 days for delivery. No email version available. Sorry! Visit our Store to order.

It was Helen Farias who told me that it is traditional to bake Thirteen different kinds of cookies during the Christmas season, a charge I try to carry out by making three different cookies each week of Advent. You can order my little book of recipes for 13 Traditional Winter Holiday Cookies through our store. $6 plus $2 for shipping and handling; allow 10 days for delivery. No email version available. Sorry!

Current Offerings: Winter Correspondence Course
In the School of the Seasons, winter is rapidly approaching, since I use the old British reckoning of the seasons in which winter begins on November 1st, with Samhain. If you're interested in signing up for the Winter correspondence course, order now to get your materials before Winter begins. Visit our Store to order.

Early Notice: Midwinter Holiday Packet
I will be writing a Midwinter Holiday packet but I'm not starting until November 30th, and the end of National Novel Writing Month (see above). Luckily I wrote an early draft of this holiday packet almost five years ago so I should be able to complete it by December 7th. I will focus on festivals of light including Winter Solstice, Saturnalia, Hanukkah, Loy Krathong and Christmas, and include songs, recipes (especially porridges and cordials), crafts (like luminarias and ornaments) and plant lore. Order a copy now or closer to Midwinter through our store.

Copyright ©Waverly Fitzgerald 2003.
All rights reserved. You may reprint material from Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as long as you credit me and provide a link to: http://www.schooloftheseasons.com. Please send me a copy of the publication.

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