To celebrate the solstice and the return of the light, our neighbors suggested a progressive dinner through the neighborhood. So four families started at one family's house for appetizers, on to another for some yummy salad and a pumpkin-mushroom soup that was divine, then on to a third house for pizza and a spicy red pasta, and then up to our house for dessert: gingerbread cookies and homemade peach crisp. It was such a great idea, and we had a wonderful time with our neighbors. One of our neighbors is a professional storyteller and she had prepared a couple of solstice stories from different places around the world to tell. At our house, I played carols on the piano and several of us sang along. It felt like a kindling of the kind of holiday spirit that really draws people together during this darkest time of the year. We all enjoyed it so much that we're planning to make it a quarterly event on the equinoxes and solstices.
Since we've been snowed in off and on this week, it has really made me appreciate the good neighbors that we have, and the things in our neighborhood that people here have made a priority. When you regularly support a small local food store that carries local foods and has a great little restaurant/coffee shop attached, then when you can't leap in your car and roar off to a big supermarket, you have this great walkable place right there and available. I think our culture has long favored the supposed "convenience" of big box shopping, tons of choices and bulk amounts and shopping once a week over patronizing a smaller more local store. Our store doesn't have the aisles and aisles of stuff that a larger grocery would carry, but by making sure we keep it in business, we're never stranded without close access to a terrific little grocery.
Likewise, our town has invested in a good transit system that serves a large part of our city. So even without the ability to bike, we could still get downtown to the gym and to the library. I wasn't without books or a swimming pool, even though the roads were iced over!
And the fact that our neighbors always come together out on our hill whenever it snows to sled and chat over cocoa or hot tea makes me look forward to these wintry days. One neighbor made big signs that alerted the few drivers to the fact that children were sledding. Snowball fights, sled trains, and sled races abounded as the kids came out to enjoy the wintry weather. It's wonderful to be surrounded by so many nice families and people interested in making a strong and thriving community, whatever the weather.