Winter Darkness, Winter Malaise

Crows in Winter 1941 N.C. Wyeth(1882-1945)


Depressed? Seasonal or chronic? Both?

I’m seasonal. Cranky…irritable…overly sensitive…overly critical….overly snarky….
And I’ve got the slows. Like I’m wading through mashed potatoes. My brain is tired of thinking and I don’t want to do anything but drink coffee, eat cookies and chocolate until these symptoms disappear.

The world over, this is why in so many cultures, ‘the ancients’ invented a holiday to coincide with the dark cold days of winter. Call it what you will…

Were I to respond to the desires of my earthly body and ethereal spirit, I’d settle myself down for this long winter’s nap. I’d stop nagging on myself to get more things done, stop scolding myself for all I have not done, or done badly. I’d swath myself in flannel and get under a quilt.

And eat cookies.

In the Modern Era (ever wonder just how long the ‘Modern Era’ will last? and what we’ll call the next one?) we feed this Winter Malaise by engaging in online seasonal Retail Therapy on Amazon. Or if the weather’s not too frightful, we bump into strangers crowding the shopping malls looking for sparkly things to give to loved (and not-so-loved) ones.

And then we all fall into the longest sleep, dream in the darkness of winter and marvel at the mysteries within.

Resistance is Futile

And why should I resist? The sun in the Northern Hemisphere is approaching its solstice position on the horizon. About as low-down south as you can get. Minimal daylight hours; darkness falls before suppertime. I fall with it.

The Winter Solstice is upon us. Me. I feel its weight, dragging me slowly down into darkness, where all my stories, memories, my dreams and imagination reside. From here I will tell my tales in a new year, evoking the mysteries of the Universe that flows through us all.

I’m gone with it.


Jammin’ it down to the Solstice

“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.

Standing 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.

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.

Summer’s coming!

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….