The Essence of our Holy Days

Photos, text and quotes by Aubrey Bamdad


I adore observing Nahal´s sheer joy at lighting the first advent candle. This is a beautiful tradition that brings us closer together as a family. We sit around the glow of hand rolled beeswax candles nestled within a circle of greenery, tell festive stories and offer song and prayer before heading off to bed.


December, for me, has evolved into a sacred time to readjust from my typically brisk pace of balancing mothering and family life with running businesses, seeing clients and tending home and farm to a more spacious rhythm that allows for lots of time with my daughter and husband doing whatever makes us feel good. It is within that spaciousness that I can assess my inner world and take stock of the lessons, challenges and accomplishments of the past year with detached, holistic vision. Knowing where I’ve come from, naturally yields perspective on where I am going.


Having young children in the home during the holidays invites a special opportunity to craft and create things from our hands. For me, the experience of doing so is less result driven and more oriented towards allowing ourselves to be absorbed into the process and immersed in the shared time together. We cook meals, bake and prepare delicacies, make felt ornaments, collage, sew, roll beeswax candles, draw cards and so much more. We try to involve as many people as who wish to participate, as we feels it adds to the magic of the season to share such activities.


This year we decided to spend the holidays in Amazonia. Typically, we travel to North America to spend time with family and friends but staying home has allowed us to completely opt out of participating in any media driven or consumer oriented activities. In truth, I have been experiencing such a calm and inner fullness this season that I am attributing to being sheltered from modern society’s interpretation of holiday celebration, which oftentimes leaves us feeling drained.


Cultivating the feelings of anticipation and imagination in the hearts and minds of children is truly one of the gifts of Motherhood, in my opinion. A few years ago, we built this advent calendar and each morning there is a new satchel awaiting Nahal´s attention. I fill them with wonderful, handmade goodies such as painted stones and small ceramic figurines.

Christmas quote

There is such a wealth of information available on the web about how to celebrate holidays, which can be an excellent resource but also could potentially lead to feelings of competition and inadequacy which greatly detract from the essential objective that these extraordinary days bestow upon us.


There is something very special about a woven basket full of candles made from the wax gathered by local beekeepers and rolled with concentration and application by the fingers of our little ones. The energy that goes into something seeds the energy that we can receive back many times over.


This past year, my mother gifted me with a beautifully bound and illustrated almanac intended to record family traditions as well as special moments, milestones and memories. I’ve been making an effort to fill its pages with notes on the sweet, small and meaningful activities that make up our family celebrations as a whole and I look forward to passing this heirloom on to my daughter one day.


This is our seasonal altar during the second week of Advent. I’ve noticed when friends and neighbors stop by, they tend to pause in front for a while, as if absorbing something from it.


Cultivating the art of giving with our children, rather than over focusing on what can be received is a practice that yields abundant fruits on so many levels.


Its also an opportunity to share our values and ideals with others in an indirect, unobtrusive and nonjudgemental way. As a nutritionist, I love sharing healthy foods to inspire others. These are a sample of some raw, superfood chocolates and gluten free gingerbread made with homegrown ginger that we packed into tins for friends, neighbors, teachers and employees.


However you and your family decide to share these precious days, cultivate an experience that is nourishing rather than depleting, simple rather than overly complicated and relaxing rather than stressful. Joy will naturally come to and emanate from you and yours.


No matter your faith, culture, traditions or the holidays you hold dear, these essential principles apply to us all. May these dark, cold nights enliven your inner hearths and may warmth and light radiate from within to nourish the mandala of hearts and lives that surround you.