Monday, December 21, 2015

The longest night

Today is the (northern hemisphere's) Winter Solstice, bringing us the year's shortest day, longest night, and the start of meteorological Winter. My Minnesota wishes you Merry Solstice! and hopes Yule enjoy this season and the next year in health and happiness. [We also hope you'll forgive the seasonal pun.]

Winter sunrise, short day
Winter sunrise, short day
Photo by J. Harrington

Our family's longest night (so far) wasn't on the Winter Solstice, although it was close to it. Our first born, a son, arrived on Christmas day many years ago. Labor actually started on Christmas Eve. That night confirmed my belief in the old saying "they also serve who only stand and wait." I didn't have to do any of the hardest part but I still can't stand watching the Yule log on television. The longest night of my life brought the best Christmas present ever.

Since the year our son was born, Christmas in our home begins at midnight and continues only until noon, December 25th. At noon the celebration becomes his birthday and he gets to open his birthday presents. Creating a virtual "firewall" between Christmas and his birthday seems like the better choice, rather than celebrating an alternative birthday on the Summer Solstice or something. Since these are the shortest days of the year, to savor them we should slow down instead of rushing through short days toward something we think or hope will be better.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

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