Posted tagged ‘Winter solstice’

” It’s Christmas. Nothing bad is going to happen on Christmas!”

December 21, 2017

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter. The days will start getting longer but we’ll hardly notice. It will still be dark early. I guess it’s a psychological thing, the idea that winter is very slowly losing its grip. Today is cold. Gracie and I were out early as she had another acupuncture treatment. She did well. When we got home, we both went to back to sleep. I just woke up. She’s still sleeping.

I’m going to make some cookies today. I did all my Christmas food shopping yesterday. I also made two other stops for dog food and Christmas candy. For Christmas dinner, the menu is set. We’re having bone-in rib roast. I have to pick the meat up on Christmas Eve. The rest of the menu will give our plates some color, in keeping with the season: white, green and orange, better known as potatoes, carrots and green beans.

My whole house feels like Christmas. The aroma of my Christmas tree fills the rooms. It makes me smile, and I tell the air how wonderful it is. I don’t even pretend I’m talking to Gracie.

I’m watching a Christmas movie, and it isn’t very good. The elves are tall and have names like George and Mindy. Their acting is over the top, hammy. The main characters are a family of a mother and two kids. The father passed away. One kid loves Christmas while the other is obnoxious and angry. She needs a slap. The mother is sweet and does her best only to be rebuffed by her daughter. The only parts of this movie I really enjoy are the scenes of the town and the snow. It looks like an old town with lots of brick buildings. Snow is everywhere. I don’t know why I’m still watching. I know how this horrible movie ends. It’s a Christmas movie so the ending will be happy and even the rude, obnoxious daughter will love Christmas again. Maybe I should watch Krampus again though even that has a happy ending.

“The light teaches you to convert life into a festive promenade.”

December 21, 2014

The Winter Solstice is official at 6:03 EST tonight, the longest night and the shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. We are moving back to the light.

It always seemed unfair somehow when darkness came so early. We had the street light curfew so winter afternoons for playing outside were short, and if it was cold or snowy or windy, we sometimes didn’t go out at all. We played games, watched TV, did our homework and read. The afternoons felt endless. Supper always seemed to be late, deeper into the early evening, but it wasn’t. The early darkness fooled us.

Today is the same as yesterday, a grey day, and it’s cold so I’m glad I don’t have to go anywhere. The inside Christmas lights are lit so the house looks bright. Multi-colored lights are my favorites for the tree though I do put a strand of white lights around the trunk, starlights in the middle of the tree. My window lights are white candles, bright white candles, which shine in a circle of light above the bulbs.

It is easy to create beauty this time of year. The tree is in my living room in the same spot it always is. Sometimes I stand at the edge of the room just to look at it. I’m always taken by how lovely it looks, a bit of bias I suspect. My dining room is lit by the window candles and by the small tree in the corner. The table runner is bright red and green. The centerpiece is a tree made of blocks. Each row is a word or phrase spelled out in the blocks. All of them have to do with Christmas. It was once my mother’s. My kitchen has a red pepper bunch of lights and a string of scallop shell lights. I never mind going from room to room to turn them on. Their light is welcome especially tonight.

“A cold wind was blowing from the north, and it made the trees rustle like living things.”

December 21, 2012

Usually if I wake up, I fall back to sleep, but not this morning. I had no idea of the time as the clock in my room doesn’t work, and I haven’t felt the need to replace it. It was still really dark, but I got up anyway. The house was cold. I got downstairs, turned up the heat and made coffee. It was 4:30. The animals went right back to sleep. Fern and Gracie are on the couch and Maddie is on the table. Such lives they lead!

Winter begins in earnest at 6:15 this morning. The Sun’s path has reached its southernmost position, and tonight will be the longest night of the year. It’s the winter solstice. All the cold and snow before today has merely been a dress rehearsal. I have one sparkler left, and it will be my simple celebration on the deck to chase away the darkness.

I always think dark mornings in winter are the quietest times of day. Most people have yet to stir and few cars are on the road. My favorite memory of walking in the stillness of a dark morning was going to church one Christmas day with my brother. Our footsteps echoed in the quiet and we could see our breaths. We even whispered. A few of the houses were bright with light and through the windows we could see Christmas trees blazing with color. Our guess was little kids just couldn’t wait any longer.

I have a vivid memory of that dark morning. I remember how cold it was walking around the field below my street, and how glad I was to be where houses on both sides protected us from the wind. We crossed the railroad tracks, and the streetlights lit our way. When we got inside the church, we could hear the radiators, but the church still had a chill. Only the side altar was bright with light. A few of us sat in the front two pews. The priest said the mass without an altar boy. There was no sermon. The mass was over quickly. We hurried home.

“Even as an adult I find it difficult to sleep on Christmas Eve. Yuletide excitement is a potent caffeine, no matter your age.”

December 22, 2011

55° on December 22nd just doesn’t seem right. When I went to get the papers, I stood a while outside and took in the morning. We have sun and blue skies for the first time in days, but it all seems wrong. Where’s the snow? I should be seeing my breath and be clad in wool from head to toe. I’m sure it sounds like complaining, and I really don’t want winter as I’m loving this temperature, but it’s Christmas time. It’s sleigh bells ringing and Frosty dancing. It’s even the first day of winter. Mother Nature is behind her time.

Every kid counted down to the big day, Christmas Eve. The lucky ones, like us, had advent calendars which let us know how many days were left without having to ask. I swear that’s why my mother started giving them to us. We just counted the unopened windows and knew how long. Later, when we were older, we did the math. I have to admit that still being in school until the 23rd helped. We were forced to be busy so the days went more quickly. Christmas Eve is the longest day of the year, not the summer solstice. Just ask any kid.

I don’t remember the specifics of most Christmas Eve days except night was a long time in coming. I bet we drove my mother crazy. It was never a day for us to play outside or wander. It was a close to home day. The TV was always on in case there was a Christmas show, just what we needed to heighten the excitement. We wondered what Santa would bring. Would he follow our list or be creative?

We always got a new game or two for Christmas. As long as I can remember, we were a family of game players. Learning to play cards started with war then we worked our way up to more complex games as we got older. My parents, figuring they had built-in partners, taught my brother and me whist. We also played all sorts of board games either sitting on the living room rug or at the kitchen table. Santa always left the games front and center under the tree leaning upright against other toys. They were often the first things we saw. I don’t remember asking for games on my list. They were Santa’s choice, but we never complained.

I still try to give a game at Christmas. It’s one of those traditions meant to be carried on year to year. The one change is we just can’t manage sitting on the rug to play. It’s too hard to get up.

“I will love the light for it shows me the way. Yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”

December 21, 2011

Yes, I know it’s Wednesday, and this is my day off, but I decided to write just a bit this being the winter solstice and all.

It is warm today at 51°. We’re expecting rain so the sun is gone yet again. It’s actually been a while since it last appeared. If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was on vacation in a sunnier clime.

The longest night of the year needs fireworks. The sky should be ablaze with color. Bon fires need to be lit. We ought to be outside around the fire singing carols and celebrating and having a glass or two of something warm.

Tonight I’m going to a friend’s house for dinner, and I will wear bright clothes to dispel the darkness on this the longest night.

“I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

‘We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,’
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.”
–   Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing