Happy New Year!
On the first day of 2020 I wanted to dress up. I put on a dress and a string of pearls before finishing dinner. I lit a pair of tall candles on my beautifully set dinning room table and called the kids down.
Evan put piano music on, and after a Croatian aperitif (of homemade walnut brandy), we paused to give thanks for the beginning of a new year.
As we shared a delicious (low-carb and gluten free) homemade meal – rich in colors of the rainbow – with green baby broccoli and yellow squash, and bright orange sweet potatoes complementing the earthy browns of mushrooms and gold of the onions – we remembered the best and the worst moments of 2019.
It’s only fair to honor the past before we step into the new. To acknowledge the good times as well as the challenging ones.
I had to do a quick recount for everyone, as so much has happened that some of it slipped into the forgotten parts of our memory banks. And once I did, everyone gasped at just how much we all did in a year.
Our summer trip to Croatia and London won the most ‘best of’ votes, the cruise being the second. And for the worst, we all picked out something that was emotionally difficult to go through – for me, it was missing Evan’s senior presentation.
After we toasted to 2020 as a year in which we will stay focused on our paths and be present to each other, I told everyone how my mom’s Christmas Wheat taught me a beautiful lesson that I’ll keep in mind as I plan ahead.
It’s a tradition in Croatia to plant some wheat on the feast of Santa Lucia (Dec 13) and grow it in a small dish until Christmas when it becomes a center piece and an offering for an abundant new year. It is said that the way the wheat grows is indicative of how the year ahead would be – rich and thick, or sparse and slow-growing.
Although it’s never really right, it’s fun to keep little rituals like this one when the ritual is in itself rich in tradition and soaked in people’s hopes and dreams. Of course, it’s not all luck.
It matters HOW you plant the wheat, how you treat it while it grows and where you keep it so it gets enough light. Faith in God and God’s helpers like Santa Lucia also play a huge part.
So, the whole thing is really not about superstition but about the effort and willingness to collaborate with both heaven and nature to co-create abundance.
This year, a friend of mine sent me a batch of fresh wheat seeds, and my mom (who grew up in a village and learned this tradition as a child) knew exactly what to do.
She asked me to buy a shallow dish for the wheat, but I was busy working and didn’t have time to go shopping. She then wanted to use an old plastic food container but I rebelled saying it wouldn’t look pretty – and my Christmas centerpiece had to be pretty. I took out a beautiful square glass vase and gave it to her.
“Plant it in here” I told her. “It will get plenty of light.”
My mom wasn’t too sure, but Santa Lucia wasn’t going to wait for us to get the right dish. It had to be planted.
The next day, we marvelled at the tiny sprouts the seeds happily produced laying on a bed of rich soil.
Each day, my mom made sure the wheat was getting the right amount of moisture and light. Each morning she admired it (and loved on it) as she drank her morning coffee, and moved it a little bit closer to the window before she’d retire for the night.
By Christmas, the wheat was tall and thick. Just perfect!
But as I placed it in the middle of my pretty Christmas table, I noticed the fuzzy looking fluff at the bottom of the glass vase. It was mold.
The container wasn’t right – it was pretty but it didn’t allow enough air flow needed to regulate the moisture.
“So, the lesson is – chose your container right!” I said to everyone. “Whatever gift you are nourishing, it’s important to chose the container in which your gift will be able to flourish. Because you don’t want to choke it by squishing it into the wrong place – or wrong project.”
It matters where you put your time and effort.
What about you?
Is the container for your gifts and talents the one that will yield the rich harvest? Or are you growing it in a form that looks pretty and seems perfect at first glance, but is not allowing the grace to flow through it?
Whether it’s something you are working on, or a gift of Love you are growing each day through your caring actions, observe the conditions it is in. Are you constraining it in some way? Are you not allowing it to take the shape it’s meant to take?
If necessary, make changes to allow Grace to flow freely (like air) and regulate all that your gift needs to flourish and bless the world around you.