The Contemporary New England Witch

The Contemporary New England Witch
Ms Faith

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'tis the season . . . What do you want for Christmas?

 Evening Greetings,

I sit this week pondering how I'll feed my soul this holiday season. Now we've made it past Thanksgiving, truly a holiday designed to feed the body, no matter how you look at it, I used to find the Christmas/Yuletide season strangely unsatisfying.  I found my soul was hungry for something deeper, more fulfilling than just trying to buy tons of presents. That was until as a young adult, when I started to become aware of the world around me.

Around this time, I first went to new York City, it was the week before Christmas with a friend and her family who were all New Yorkers and very familiar with the city.  I found it fascinating, exciting and shocking, in the respect that there were people sleeping on heating grates, on pieces of cardboard and most surprising were the people hurrying past, no one noticing or seeming to care.

In my town of approximately 55,000 today, there's a different public view of the  homeless. We don't see them, not figuratively as I observed in a large city, but we really don't see them.  Our town has always been progressive in many civic ways, and we've had a homeless shelter for over 50 years, so we don't have people sleeping on the sidewalks. Almost as if they don't exist. My trip to NYC  made me realize that we do have homeless, they were just not as obvious as those in a big city, but they are there. I started to take notice of the 'unnoticed' in my community.

I wondered how I could affect a positive change. I wanted to help the wheel turn in a way which benefited my community and in turn gain fulfillment, because as magnanimous and philanthropic as we may want to believe ourselves to be, we all get something out of everything we do.  Whatever the benefit, however small, it benefits us in someway.  I'll give a bit to the bell ringers outside the stores, as I personally couldn't imagine standing outside in all sorts of crazy cold weather ringing a bell, and I think its important as they remind people that there are other causes out there besides our own.

We've always contributed to various charities through the mail, like so many do. Then I started to read news stories about the distribution of funds, misuse or the charities not even getting the monies. This is not true for all and many charities are valid and very much needed. But I found writing a check to be an easy, convenient and soul starving action, for myself personally.

So I started looking for a different way to get my 'holiday charitable fix' and to do it in a way that resonated with me and the energies I wanted to experience.  I wanted to feel good in my heart during the holiday. Yes, giving that special someone a special gift from the heart qualifies. Quality in thought and sentiment is always more special than quantity.  Yet I also found I wanted to give back to my community, but not by writing an anonymous check.  So over the years I've done the following things between Thanksgiving and Christmas in an effort to give back.  Maybe some of them will appeal to you should you find your soul hungry for a 'holiday charitable fix'!

Every year my town has toy drop offs at fire houses around town.  People drop off the toys and a few days before Christmas families that have low incomes can bring a child and choose a toy for free.  We would collect the toys once a week and transport them to the main collection point. 

On a Sunday before Thanksgiving and Christmas the local food bank packages up bags of groceries, turkeys and pies enough for a family and these are distributed to the many families that qualify by having so little they couldn't afford food for the holidays. So many wonderful volunteers show up to grab at least one family's food to deliver to them.  On a good day you could deliver to 4 -6 families.  Many people have no idea how  some people, in our community, live under the weight of poverty.  Homes with no food in  the cupboards, let alone a tree or anything to go under it.

A few years ago we hosted a drive collecting new hats, gloves, socks and scarves. We contacted the local homeless shelter and found out the number of females and males that were staying there and my students  brought in enough for all the residents to each have a package of new warm clothing. I spent a lovely day wrapping each package and we delivered them on Christmas eve.  Everyone received one and I still remember the smiles on some faces, the thanks and God bless you's.  I personally don't believe it really  matters what our personal vision of deity is,  I returned their blessings in like manner. It wasn't the place to announce my status as a witch, as it shouldn't make a difference.  What made a difference to me was the feelings of doing something for someone, a person you don't know and will most likely never see again, and looking in their eyes for just that moment. That connection. 

Several years ago I noticed an emergency response to a home in our neighborhood on Christmas Eve. I thought about the first responders and it occurred to me that they are there. 365 24/7  I know I didn't give them much thought, but if you need them, even on a holiday, Sunday, at midnight, they're always there for us.
I hope we never need them, but I'm so grateful we have them. In my community we have both a town force and a volunteer force of first responders.  Shortly after that fateful Christmas eve I started my own tradition, one that has become very special to me.  I'd like to share it with you.

The week before Christmas we normally celebrate Yule on the Solstice. Much more about that in a later discussion! My point being Christmas Eve and Christmas day are quiet and restful days for me.  During the week before I bake lots of Christmas cookies.  I make up several trays or plates of assorted cookies and on Christmas eve, we stop by  the fire departments, emergency rooms and the police department in our town.  Just having an opportunity to say thanks in person feels great, for me. 

. When I do these things it  makes me happy to know I'm making others happy, or helping in some way, no matter how small. To many of these people who work so hard to keep us safe and help us when in crisis, hearing a sincere thank you means so much. It doesn't happen as often as it should.

This tradition is a very special one and for many years has been a private one for me. I'm glad that I can share this and some of the things I've done in the past to fulfill my spirit at Yuletide with you.  I'd love to hear of things you do to give back to your community this time or any time of the year. Please send in a comment and others can benefit from your ideas and suggestions also.

I commented just today how the Internet, the world wide web, really is like a spiders web. One that connects us all to each other and allows us all to benefit from one another and share with everyone. This is a very powerful, magickal tool to my trained witches eye and I hope we someday learn to use it for the potential it holds rather than the virulent harm caused by viruses and other man created mayhem.  So, please, if you'd like to comment on this discussion and share ways to give back to your community, post a comment.   Thanks for playing!

Peace and Happiness

© 2010 Enchantments, LLC Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see

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  1. What a wonderfully inspiring post! :) I am a knitter, and knit with a group once a week. For the last few years before the holidays, we each make a scarf to send to a soldier who's deployed. They're not just gone from their families for the holidays, but for months, or over a year. I like to remind them that they're not forgotten while they're risking their lives and serving their country and that they're loved. :)

  2. I am working on a project with my coven this winter, perhaps not time for Christmas, but I think will be welcome none the less. I recently purchsed several pieces of fleece fabric on sale and we are going to make the no-sew cut & tie blankets to donate to children in a battered women's shelter. Sometimes these women & children have to leave their home with very few possesions & this can provide the children with something soft & comforting that they can keep as their own.

    Another idea that I thought was great was to assemble a "birthday party in a box" and donate to the local food pantry. The box contains a cake mix & frosting, a few ballons, grab bags, candles, hats, etc. People who do do have enough food on a day-to-day basis often do not have the resources to celebrate their child's birthday as they want to.