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  • Dasia Zanders

Scattering Memories & Wishes

I have often talked about how my mother influenced my child-like wonder for life, especially during the holiday season. Recently, I mentioned a tradition my mother learned from my aunt that involved the creation of reindeer food. When I was a child this was a ritual we performed on the night before Christmas. My mother would "make" reindeer food, hand it to me and we would scatter it all throughout the yard. She read me a poem about how the food would attract the reindeers to the yard and promise an arrival from Santa. In reality, this was nothing more than dried oats and a biodegradable glitter mixed together in a bag or vial to create a rather magical appearance of what is typically mundane.

Of course, when I got older the tradition was removed since I was no longer awaiting Santa's arrival and did not believe in the notion of flying deer in the sky. However, this ritual was revived a few years ago when I shared my childhood memory with my friends. They were curious and I was bored, so I created reindeer food. I took little glass vials, filled them halfway with dried oats and halfway with loose glitter. I shook up the vials so they all blended together in a pretty swirl and presented them to my friends. They were amused by how magical the end result appeared and somehow we found ourselves running around my front yard sprinkling oats and glitter all over until the grass was glistening under the holiday lights and moonlight.

We have done this silly tradition ever since that year and I always find myself laughing at our childish behavior appearing in those brief minutes before returning to our young adult responsibilities.

Thinking about the reindeer food now as an adult I think it's a rather genius idea. I realize all those speeches and poems my mother would tell me before we would throw around the food in the yard wasn't all about Santa. It was about something much deeper.

Oats are said to be symbolic and hold properties in magical practices and spirituality that are often tied to positive life elements. They are often used to bring in happiness, health, tradition, family matters, good fortune, friendship, faithfulness, healing, respect, and spiritual growth. The list could probably continue and depending on where you are in the world or who you're speaking to then you may get a variety of responses. As for glitter, it is often associated with being a pretty substance used primarily in crafts and makeup. It adds a hint of magic to things and for some reason, we as people tend to be amazed by anything that sparkles.

Often when combining the oats and glitter, idle chatter would take place. As a child, we would discuss my feelings and interests through the year with giggling delight. I was a child, naturally, a lot of my interests were funny and creative so of course, we were always smiling. As an adult, when I'm creating these vials and jars of reindeer food I'm often speaking with my mother or best friend about everything that has happened to bring us to where we are in that current moment. I recognize now that I'm essentially bottling up these emotions and thoughts, but because reindeer food is such a silly thing to do I am bottling these emotions and thoughts with kindness rather than complaint. I'm not angry, anxious, or distressed. Instead, I'm calm and grateful to have gotten through the year at all! When the time comes for my group of friends to run around the yard, we're so full of joy and hope for the new year.

My mother, unbeknownst to me, was teaching me how to release any negativity so that I can allow for my wishes and blessings to come forward. If we're always looking forward in life with expectations for the worst, we miss out on the ability to allow for some of the best to come forth. My friends and I hold our little reindeer potions close to us as we discuss what wishes we hope to come true going into the new year. We individually make a wish then make a wish as a collective. After that, we go running around the yard in absolute delight! It's a tradition I was convinced would fade out with age, instead, I find myself looking forward to passing it on to my future children and continuing to do this little ritual with my friends and family as long as we can.

If you're ever looking to add some whimsical joy into your life, perhaps this year you should buy some biodegradable glitter and a large box of oats and host your own ceremony of reindeer food.

Stay safe, have fun, and I hope to see you again soon!


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