The Entrance Hall with bayberry candles lit at Henwoodie. As dusk falls the pups and I roam from room to room lighting dozens of candles and bayberry candles to celebrate the Magic and Mystery of the Winter Solstice.
The house is filled with pine boughs and evergreens brought in during the daylight hours. The nighttime is when the real magic begins by the glow of candlelight and firelight.
Dinner is eaten by the warm glow of bayberry candles. The meal is simple: ham and roasted small new potatoes, baby carrots, and parsnips. Extra food is put out throughout the day and night for the birds and animals that visit Henwoodie on a daily/nightly basis. The Winter Solstice is a time for sharing and reflection.
Two solitary bayberry candles light the Nativity crêche and winter painting that hangs above the fireplace. A cozy, cheery fire is kept burning in the fireplace all night long while the bayberry candles burn down to the socket of the candle holders.
With the lighting of each candle a silent prayer is said in hopes that Health, Happiness, and Prosperity will come to us and all who visit here. It’s an annual ritual I have performed for fifty years now.
Even in the kitchen windows bayberry candles burn as a welcoming beacon to the deer and animals that visit the side lawns for food and shelter from the bitter cold of the darkest night of the year.
The library table in the living displays my collection of favorite lighted houses, bears, and Pere Noels. Holiday treats are put out for everyone to enjoy as the enter the living room on their way to sit by the fire.
Our dear friend, Iris, joined us for dinner and storytelling by fire. Maddy, one of our tiny rescue pups, did everything she could to stay as close to Iris as possible. Here is Iris greeting Maddy, who had clambered up onto the Mission bench and put her front paws on the table so that she could attract Iris’s attention.It was a dark, dark, cold, cold night. But no snow. The house was filled with the fragrance of pine and balsam and bayberry. Stories were told, memories recollected, and news as to what’s going on now in our lives were the order of the night as we sipped hot coffee and ate cookies and chocolate pie by the fire.
Iris departed just before midnight with a box of bayberry candles in hand to burn on Christmas Eve in order to bless her and Mary’s house during the holidays.
At midnight, the pups and I bundled up and trundle out the door to take our Winter Solstice walk in the woods just off the lower gardens. The trees held their breath as we passed and there was a still, hushed silence that hung in the cold night air.
Back at the house, the pups snuggled under their fleecy blankets or stretched out in front of the fire. I would stay awake until the last of the bayberry candles had burned down and extinguished themselves.
The night was quiet and still. Only one person was missing who could not be with us for the Magic and Mystery—John. He will arrive on Christmas Eve when we will celebrate the second night of the holiday with our traditional rituals.
Friends begin arriving on the 23rd and family will join us on the 26th. For us at Henwoodie the holidays really do begin on the Winter Solstice and will last right through the New Year’s Eve celebration!
I hope everyone who reads this blog had a Wonderful Winter Solstice and an upcoming Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!