Greetings, readers! According to my refrigerator calendar, today is the Winter Solstice, a day which marks both the beginning of actual winter and the shortest day of the year. As Terry Pratchett has pointed out, it's a day to be careful of people who claim to be honest as the day is long.
I like Solstice. It's a lovely way to escape the growing clamor of Christmas v. Hanukkah v. Eid al-Adha v. Kwanzaa. I think Solstice slips under the radar a bit, which is nice. After today, the days begin to grow longer again. There are a couple of ways of looking at this. If you want to be confrontational about it, the bleak, cold darkness has been beaten back for another year and we as a species have survived to claw our way back into the sunlight. (I suppose we could say surviving the final trip to the shopping mall symbolically commemorates this event.)
I prefer to look at it a little differently, though. A long time ago, people were more attuned to the turning of the seasons - before the advent of electric light, there was a distinct difference between day and night that just had to be acknowledged. And it was understood that seeds, fields, and yes, people, needed to rest in order to store the energy necessary to grow when the time was right. Solstice marks the end of the dormant period - it's time to stretch towards the light and get ready to grow. It may take a while to see the results, but after all, flowers do a lot of work before we see the blooms.
So why wait until the calendar New Year to make some resolutions? (Yeah, I know. I'm not modifying my lousy eating habits until Epiphany, but that's beside the point. You plan on finishing that pecan bar?) Fresh starts require some effort; it's true, but you don't have to carry all that junk you've been carting around into the New Year with you. So maybe dig out your holiday cards one last time and send one to someone you've been on the outs with. Send it anonymously if you want. Or write down what you consider to be your bad habits and burn the paper in a Yule fire. Resolve to be the light this year; not the shadow. Climb up toward the light - it's where we all belong.
This is my last entry for 2007 - but I'll be back during the first week of January for musings and commentary from the holidays. Have a Merry New Year and remember - it's a brand-new set of three-hundred-and-sixty-six days in which to get things right. Just go a little easy on yourself and keep in mind that no one really has things figured out. While some folks are better at looking calm and collected, we're all just doing the best we can with what we have. So be a little kinder to someone who you don't think deserves it, even if that person is you.
Peace to you.