Happy mandatory-family-friend-hanging-out time!

Be it Hanukkah or X’mas or Bodhi Day or The Day of the Return of the Wandering Goddess (awesome sounding, btw), or Kwanza or Omisoka or Saturnalia or the Winter Solstice — I wish everyone the best one.

That said. Good lords and ladies, I’m happy to be in Taiwan: the holiday mania hasn’t really gotten in full swing here yet and I’m grateful. Having spent the last decade or so in America, the difference is startling.

Don’t get me wrong – I love the holiday whirl as much as the next introvert does. Which is to say, with great joy and great trepidation and much reservation. I enjoyed going the whole hog in the past: hosting T-day dinner for fourteen, the staying up for X’mas eve, the drunken revelry, the gift-giving on X’mas morning, and X’mas morning brunch and so forth.

This year, however, I’m just grateful that it wasn’t expected or required or even necessarily appropriate. I’m sure there’s plenty of Taiwanese people and American ex-pats here who do celebrate the gamut of jollification starting from slightly before Halloween to as long as Valentine’s day or even Easter, but it’s not a thing. Thank the gods.

This year has been one of much change, forced self-reflection, and navel-gazing. It’s been a privilege to be able to retreat these past few months and watch the emotions precipitate out.

I’ve come to realize how much the endless social whirl can obscure the heart’s desire and I’ve badly needed the time to try and regain equilibrium and erect the necessary boundaries that I’ve apparently neglected for nearly three decades.

So I celebrated Winter Solstice this year by staying at home, listening to my body and its needs, reading, writing, and reveling in the freedom to do so. I missed having easy access to candles, incense, and the other tools of the trade, but in the end, it was just fine the way it settled out.

If I could give a gift, it would be that of the courage to choose whatever is best for you in the holiday season. It takes bravery to say no, especially at this time, and so I offer the whisper of “courage! take heart!” to all those who need it.┬áBe it choosing to go to a party despite a grouchy partner or refusing to be shamed into passing up that second slice of pie or saying no, thank you to an all-nighter or declining that fourth flute of champagne.

It’ll be a new year in less than a week and may we all move forward into it with grace and joy.

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