There is an art to living beautifully and people on the East Coast seem to have a real knack for it. We know that it is not really about what we have, but what we are able to do with what we’ve got. This past year, each and every one of us has become masters of this mantra and we have come to treasure the things that make us unique not only in geography but in spirit.
Some might say that Atlantic Canadians have always been that way, it’s in our DNA. But the Atlantic Canada we celebrate today is not what it used to be. We hold strong to many of our old European traditions, but are beginning to understand that it’s the DNA of collective cultures and acceptance of different histories that will really allow us to shine.
As I sit down to write my first message as editor of East Coast Living, the first signs of the holiday season that I am most familiar with are starting to appear. My youngest daughter said to me the other day, ‘Mum, this year people are really going to need Christmas.’ And while she is correct, this holiday season, despite being different in many ways, will be a most welcome break from the heaviness of our experiences this past year. It’s the comfort of tradition that makes us feel safe and steady when other aspects of life are precarious.
As I settle into my annual rhythm of Christmas, I have started to raise my own awareness about the customs and celebrations of other cultures in our East Coast communities and how their traditions are just as comforting at this time of year. It’s not the jolly fellow and mangers for everyone. I was so grateful when journalist Ameeta Vohra reached out to me to express her interest in sharing her experiences celebrating Diwali, one of the most important Hindu celebrations of the year that also happens as the days get shorter. The Festival of Lights is a symbolic celebration of the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. This celebration falls on a different date every year but there are similarities to a number of religious and cultural holidays that brings on the comfort and joy in the sharing of special foods, the lighting of candles, prayers, coming together of families and the excitement of children.
As the anticipation of the holiday builds for my family, we are sensing the shift in the usual bustle of the season. We have counted the number of events and parties that would normally fill the calendar from the end of November to New Year’s that just won’t be happening this year. While these moments will be missed there is a welcoming space that is also starting to take on its own shape. In the art world this is referred to as “negative space,” when the space around the object finds its own form. That absence can be just as beautiful as the object itself. For me this negative space is now being occupied by the things I would often wish that I had more time for. There is a gift in that space that allows me to create more time for the people I love the most and to do a little more for those who might find comforts and joy to be a little harder to come by this year.
From all of the East Coast Living family we wish you a season of love and laughter and hope your new year begins with good health and happiness.