Phoenix Riting! – November 30th, 2023

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I went to a party recently. Sometimes you go to a party and it’s just so sweet and connected and fun you can’t stop smiling! By the end, my face was sore from constant grinning. Such informal events do as much to weave community, albeit on a smaller scale, as do formal gatherings like dances, festivals and fairs. The flow of connection was palpable; for a while, we lost our personal boundaries in a collective dance of happy fun.

 

I have identified as an introvert for a long time, as I thrive on time alone, but there is something about gatherings that feeds my heart, soul and body, especially when dancing is involved. Maybe I’m an extraverted introvert? An introverted extravert? It was so nice to be invited!

 

This was not a seasonal gathering, but it brings me to this upcoming season. There is something about this time of year! It’s bothered me for years and years, this almost magical feeling to the weeks around the winter solstice and ending with the New Year. Outside of religion, I suspect our need to celebrate this season is a holdover from a pagan, tribal past when the turning of the year felt like being saved by the returning of the light from a fate of eternal darkness. That is the feeling, is it not? We feel collectively uplifted, reprieved and blessed.

 

Not everyone is included in that feeling. Christmas is a time defined by social gatherings and yet many of us are not part of a social group that gathers informally. So many spend Christmas unwillingly alone, pretending it’s just another day, or simply processing past Christmas hurts. Many fall through the cracks, finding themselves alone without an invitation to a party or gathering, lacking a stable home to host in, feeling depressed, bereft and unable to do anything about it. Spirits rise this time of year, but so, sadly, do suicide rates. This year, Joe King Clubhouse is rebranding itself as the island’s ‘living room,’ providing cafe / hangout space available Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10-3. It’s open for folk to come share yummy food and treats, volunteer in the kitchen or just hang out by the fire with friends. You can swap chores, like sweeping and dishwashing, for soup credits. It sounds like an idea whose time has come! This should help those in need of a social feed get their needs met in this time of longing and loneliness.

 

Over the years, I have dropped out of the Christmas spending rat race more and more. I buy books for my grandchildren, and I only exchange gifts with adult family members when I am able to spend Christmas with them. That’s about it. I neither send nor receive Christmas cards. But for some reason, I love this season. Even all alone, I feel the magic. Santa has been good to me every year, even when I have to be my own Santa.

 

I love Christmas so much, and my feelings about it have been so challenging and strained I had to write a song. One Christmas eve back in the early 2000s, I wrote a song called, “Something About Christmas.” And finally, with the skilled help of the always-amazing Marc Atkinson, I have released it as a single–my very first release! Whee! I’ve been receiving superlative feedback and comments about it. You can hear it for free now on my Bandcamp page, at https://phoenixbee.bandcamp.com/, where, if you are so moved, you can also purchase the audio file. The song is in the queue to be released on major streaming platforms as well. I’ll let you all know when that happens; it will be soon.

 

The most frequent feedback I’ve received so far has been that this is a Christmas song that, while Christmassy in mood and music, can be enjoyed by those who ‘hate Christmas songs’. I am very proud of this song, which Marc calls ‘epic.’ The grand piano and harmonies make the perfect framing. I feel very blessed. I hope this song can help others make peace with the complicated contradictions of this season.

 

On that note, may blessings and peace flow in this darkening season, and may the light return on schedule. My wish for you this season is that your hearts, souls and bodies be fed in convivial friendly gatherings.

 

That’s what I think. What do you think? Email me at phoenixonhornby@gmail.com