“Now is the time when my winter coat is at its fullest, yet my soul is still empty.” —Henri, le Chat Noir
The Winter Solstice is upon us. It’s still over a week away, but I’ve got the slows, the blues, the grays, the crankies…
As a child way back in the last century, I never noticed much about December 21, other than it was my father’s birthday, and that it was kind of a bummer to have a birthday so close to Christmas. I grew up and marveled that the phases of the moon control the tides and affect women’s fertility cycles and births of babies. A few more years flew by before I noticed the mood-altering effects of the seasons of the sun.
That’s what solstice means. Standing sun-twice each year, for three days the sun seems to stand still on the horizon. That’s all fine and dandy if it happens to be the Summer Solstice, when days are long and warm, and nights are short and sweet.
I am severely annoyed if not traumatized that darkness now falls before the end of the day. During these last days jamming on down to the Winter Solstice, I am nearly frantic sometimes about scarce daylight hours, and fret about the darkness through the longest nights of the year. The urban glacier on my street–a remnant of the last snow blast to the Western Slope of the Colorado Rockies–deflates any enthusiasm I might have had to leave the warmth and safety of home.
Meanwhile, my irritability quotient is on the rise, slowed only by the daily intake of cookies and chocolate, which coincidentally are everywhere. I’ve learned to give into it, all of it–the malaise of winter darkness, the cookies, the chocolate. I surrender to winter’s dark lethargy while joking about my crankiness. It passes, miraculously, this dark mood–about four days after the Winter Solstice.
That’ll be my battle cry, come December 21. Daylight returns and I’ll be doing the happy dance again, irritability quotient almost back to normal. Neither snow, nor ice, nor chilly wind will blow this candle out. The added plus: there’ll still be cookies!
And that, Virginia, is why Christmas comes four days after the Winter Solstice. Gives everyone a chance to get into a better mood.
But until then….I’m a crosspatch. Cookies in one hand, chocolate in the other….