Crafting an Intentional Family Winter Holiday Narrative using the 5 Pillars.

Merry Christmas!!

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that in this non-secular era, most of us are not actually celebrating the birthday of Jesus Christ, the mystical innovator, all around shit-disturber, and spiritual guide who walked the earth two millennia ago (I mean this with the highest esteem of shit-disturbers and the process of innovative disruption). Yet, we still call this time of year the holiday (i.e. Holy-day) season.

So, what exactly is it that is Holy and that we are celebrating at this special time of year?

One way of seeing it is that we are celebrating the opportunity to get together and cherish this time with our families and loved ones. While this is a big part of it, I have been looking for a deeper meaning, especially since the birth of my son. He’s five years old now, and I would love to transmit a winter holiday tradition to him that isn’t just about stimulating the economy, generating more plastic toys that will end up in a landfill, or floating the giant mass of plastic in the Pacific ocean, and the myth of the fat man in a red suit. I’m hungry for meaning and that sense of connection that comes from sharing an empowering narrative with those I love around me.

So how do I go about finding or creating a meaningful winter holiday narrative?

Actually, the process of creating and living a lifestyle we love is similar, whether we’re talking about designing farm systems or designing a holiday narrative.

Let’s take a look at how I can apply the principles of the 5 Pillars to cultivating a winter holiday tradition for my family that is authentic and meaningful for me.

Pillar 1: A clear and well-defined vision.

My family and I share a Christmas narrative and tradition that elevates the human spirit, nurtures a sense of gratitude and awe, and contributes to raising our consciousness. My family’s new winter holiday narrative draws inspiration from multiple faith-traditions including Judeo-Christianity, pagan, indegenous, and new-age cultures. To me, Christmas represents the dawning of a new era, of a new consciousness. In a very literal sense, it marks a time of the year when the days have reached their shortest length and the light is returning more and more each day.

Our winter holiday narrative is ever evolving and is developed as a family through dialogue and consensus building. We welcome all ideas. We have fun in the process. We savor this time together and we give thanks for the miracle of life. We follow an iterative process where each year we build upon the past to create a celebration that is even more in light with our vision. We have a time of reflection and discussion in the new year about what we enjoyed about this iteration of our winter holiday celebration and we take notes and have a clear plan for the following year.

We engage in family celebration. We celebrate the dawning of a new light through a candle lighting ritual. We celebrate the beauty of life through the decoration of a tree. We tell stories from multiple faiths that highlight the elevation of the human spirit and consciousness. We sing, we play, we cuddle, and we express gratitude.

Pillar 2: A S.M.A.R.T. plan.

In this case, the plan is less obvious than with a crop plant or a farm budget. This first step is crafting a S.M.A.R.T. goal towards which the plan will strive. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time based).

By December 31 2018, I celebrate with my family a one-day winter holiday celebration centered around a collectively decided, intention holiday narrative/ set of activities. Life’s intentions: To be a loving family member. (Linking it to a life’s intention ensures that the goal is truly relevant.)


The plan that would accompany this SMART goal would be:
1) Share my vision with my family and enroll them in this project.
2) Brainstorm a list of possible activities, stories, holiday rituals.
3) Have a conversation with my family where we decide on a set of activities and narratives that we want to try out this year. Create a written sequence of activities.
4) Gather the necessary materials etc for the celebration
5) Celebrate!
6) Have a conversation with my family about what we liked and what we would like to try differently next year.

Pillar 3: Prioritization of time and resources.

This pillar is all about identifying the activities which bring us the bulk– the desired outcome,and consciously focusing our time and resources on these activities. For me, this means focusing my energy on activities and rituals that cultivate the spiritual side of this holiday. This also means not dedicating significant time or energy to material gift giving and shopping. P.S. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of this at the grandparent’s house 😉

Pillar 4: Solid farm systems.

Hummm… in this case we aren’t talking about farm production systems. However, the principle behind this pillar is still applicable: Using systems to reduce the reliance on any one person or component of the system.

In this example, what comes to mind is having a written list of the activities we have planned for the celebration so as to empower each member of the family to act independently on the plan that we have collectively decided on.

Pillar 5: Monitor for results within a community of support.

The key is to plan for the future but live in the present. It will be important for me to stay focused on the results I want (spiritual connection with my family) rather than on the specifics of how I imagined the day was going to unfold. The key in this example will be awareness, flexibility, and communication. This pillar is really sweet because it reminds me that I am building this holiday narrative within the context of a loving family community and that we are all here to support each other.

Your turn!


  • What is one area of your personal life where you would like to live in a more intentional manner?


  • How can the principles behind the 5 Pillars be applied to this area of your life?
  • May health, wealth, and love reign in your homes during this holiday season and into the new year.



Go make a ruckus!

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