It always seems kind of strange to me that the winter solstice is nowhere near the middle of winter...for most of the country, it's more a harbinger of weather to come rather than a mid-point in the season. In my latitude, the summer solstice is the same way. We know on June 21 that summer is just getting started and that the worst (for us) is yet to come. Yet both events mark the extremes in our days -- they will begin getting longer after today, and on June 22 the days will begin to shorten.
Perhaps more than anything, a solstice celebration is a reason to hope. Oh sure, we know the worst weather is still ahead of us, but also have tangible proof that it isn't going to last forever. In another month or so it will be lighter -- a full half-hour later than it is right now.
I am not a summer or long day kind of person; my favorite time is this, when days are short but nights are long. Perhaps it's because I worked nights at an Observatory for several years when I was in my 20's, but I think dark nights are the best times to be doing things, especially during this month, when we light them up with colorful decorations and candles. It's actually the one time of year when, to me, there's no such thing as light pollution -- as long as they are cheeful and colorful, the more lights the merrier.
The dark mornings also provide a wonderful, quiet setting to contemplate the close of the year. Such a cliche to talk about how fast the time flies, but our lives move so quickly nowadays that it's sometimes helpful to set aside an hour or three and just think about what's happened in the last 365 days. What was the general mood of your year? Was it frantic, exciting, slow-paced, angry, blissful or gentle-paced? What milestones did you see pass in 2016?
As we watch the sun set tonight at what would be mid-afternoon for many if it were summer, may we understand where we've just come from and where we want to go, so that once the light returns it will find us with a plan and a purpose, doing what we need to do to get where we want to go. Or if you've arrived at your best destination in life and there is nowhere you want to go, may you find yourself still right here next year, with all bits and pieces intact.
My year personally has been fruitful, and less hectic than 2015 was, although with a decidedly strange autumn due to election madness, which I kind of watched from a distance (and still do). How was your year, in total? One for the books or one for the shredder?
I hope your solstice brings enlightenment and purpose no matter what you've just gone through in this last trip around the sun, and I hope your dark night is spent in a warm place, filled with cheerful warmth and contentment as we officially head into True Winter.