Creating Sacred Space for the Holidays

Just before Thanksgiving I went to visit my dearest friend Cornelia who lives out on the coast. I smiled as I stepped up to her front door, charmed that three huge pointsettias stood against the porch, still wrapped in paper for transporting, gathering in the moist air from the sea, and awaiting their place indoors. Cornelia warmly greeted me at her large turquoise wooden door and ushered me into her kitchen where a round evergreen wreathe with small red berries woven amongst the branches lay flat upon her round wooden table. Very charming, indeed.

This is that blessed time of year when we are inspired (or challenged) to be our most creative in terms of making our homes as beautiful as possible. It is a time when we have license to string lights around our windows, across our rooftops, down our columns, across our gardens, and around a lovely tree which becomes the focal point of our season. Undoubtedly you have heard the story of Luther walking in the woods on Christmas eve being moved to bring a small tree into his house and light it with candles in honor of his experience, and while this is actually a folktale, nevertheless it serves as a wonderful metaphor for the spirit of Christmas. How shall we bring light and beauty and a sacred feeling into our homes during the season?

I believe it begins with intention.

“In the seed is the tree,” the Dutch say. Whatever intention we bring to the spirit of the holiday will become manifest, whether it is with elaborate decoration or with the simplest of offerings. That has always been the promise of Christmas and the theme is repeated throughout all the hymns, songs and stories we hear at this time of year.

How then shall you set the intention of your holiday, for yourself and your family? And how shall you celebrate? What makes it special to you? For it is only in listening to your own inner voice whereby you will make the season meaningful to you and your family. While you may look externally for inspiration and ideas, unless those points of inspiration resonate with your own deepest values, the season will pass and a magnificent opportunity to create a meaningful holiday that is in keeping with your own beliefs will be lost to you for another year.

Most likely your home is the place where you start. Is it clean? Is there order?
It seems it is inescapable that the basic canvas for a good holiday season begins with the most fundamental act of deep clearing and cleaning. There simply is no way around it. The sheer act of creating a clean canvas is the foundation of all creativity. Order and cleanliness have a vibe that lifts the environment to a state of grace and readiness. You know what I mean.

I personally always follow the deep cleaning with the simple act of bringing sage into my home and burning it. I walk from room to room, borrowing from the ancient Native American tradition, allowing the smoke from the sage wand to penetrate each and every corner of each and every room, declaring as I go, acknowledging, that each room is now a neutral and purified space, that all that has proceeded is now in the past and that the room is now made ready for what comes next. As esoteric as this sounds, after years of incorporating this tradition I have only experienced it to be true.

Next I follow my sage path with a sweet incense or sweet burning herb. At this time of year I’m most likely to use frankincense. This sets the intention that what will occur in this room will be beautiful. In each room I add a blessing for that particular room. In this bedroom one will find peace and rest. In this bathroom one will find rejuvenation and health. In this kitchen one will find nurturing and satisfaction. In this office one will find harmony and joy. The sheer act of setting the intention for the room will take you one step closer to creating it.

Now you are ready to add the layers of beauty that will assist you in manifesting what you have declared for your home.

Let us focus today in the kitchen and/or the dining room.

I personally love tablecloths. It is my belief that they are the sacred cloths on which we live a part of our lives, and it is in this spirit that I look for those which lend their beauty: quality lace, cotton, brocades, floral patterns in warm, rich colors. I have a good assortment and I find great pleasure in deciding exactly how my table will look at this time of year. At the moment I have two cloths on my long wooden table, as I love layers. I have a white lace tablecloth underneath, set as it should be, rectangularly. And I have placed at angle on top of that (points at the four sides) a beautiful red and gold cotton brocade tablecloth of the sort one only finds coming out of India. In the center of the table is an unusual rustic handpainted gold vase with small white flowers surrounded by little red berries painted on it in a folkart tradition, now bearing a rather large bough of heavenly bamboo, also called nandina, sporting bunches of red berries, which the garden seems to offer so generously at this time of year.

nandina

Other beautiful choices from our winter gardens are holly and pyracantha. Here is a splendid pyracantha growing nearby in my neighborhood.

pyracantha

The abundance of berries outside your door at this time of year lend an immediate festive air to your table or hearth. So bring them in, bring them in!
Enjoy the gifts that nature so generously offers in the depths of the dark and
cold of winter, making them all the more dear.

Love and blessings,
Kathryn xox

7 Responses to “Creating Sacred Space for the Holidays”

  1. Thanks Kathryn, for sharing your rituals to inspire others during this sacred time of year!

  2. Kathryn, I love the thought of burning sage and incense and declaring your intentions and blessings for the holiday. I’m working on getting my clear space this week, as we will put up our tree on the Feast of the Annunciation, which is Saturday this year. We always put our tree up on that day. It was a tradition of my husband, and I love it.

    Blessings to you too on this most holy of seasons.

  3. What a lovely tradition! Thank you for sharing!
    Kathryn

  4. My grandfather had a nursery business for 50+ years, and I still associate the smell of evergreens with running among the rows of Christmas trees as people came to his business to make their selection. I now have evergreen cuttings on my kitchen table…the smell makes me smile every time I pass by.
    Thanks for helping me remember such a beautiful time of my childhood, K.

  5. That is a very lovely memory, Anita. I know what you mean. I put a big wreathe on my front door this week and as I closed the door yesterday I caught a whiff of the boughs and it put a little happy grin on my face, too. This is a special time, for sure.

  6. Kathryn, I linked to you on my blog because I liked this post so much. I also wanted to say that I wrote the feast wrong in my comment, above. It is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Oops, I always do that because it seems like it should be the annunciation. It is the right time of year.

  7. First, thank you for the link. I’m honored! As for the feast, they both sound worthy of celebrating,
    don’t they??

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