This was posted on DailyKos today and it felt like a small, bright light at the end of my personal tunnel. I’ve been feeling so very cynical about Christmas this year. It all just seems like BS to me. People running around spending $ they dont have for presents other people don’t need. I just want to sit at home in my pajamas and watch tv and veg, you know?
Since the election I’ve been running into a lot of depressed people. One of my friends told me he doesn’t want to do Christmas at all this year, that the forced celebration and most-wonderful-time-of-the-year stuff was more than he could stand this time.
It occurred to me then that what my friend — and most of the people I know — needs to celebrate is not a Christmas, but a Solstice.
Let me explain. In order to really get Winter Solstice, you have to look at the World through pre-Copernican eyes. All through the Fall, the path of the Sun keeps dropping toward the horizon and the days get shorter and colder. Nothing other than the lore of your elders explains why this process should stop. Why shouldn’t the Sun just keep going south until it’s completely gone? Why should it ever come back?
But it does come back.
To the untrained eye there is nothing special about the height of the Sun above the horizon on Solstice, nothing that says “Just this far, no farther.” But somehow, on Solstice, the Sun turns around. No matter how many times our ancestors saw this, or how accurately they were able to predict it, it never stopped being a miracle to them.
So what kind of holiday is Winter Solstice? It isn’t about being bouncy and joyful, it’s about waiting out the longest night and having faith that things do not go on getting worse forever. It’s a time when you remind yourself of other dark times, and how you did manage to survive them somehow. It’s about resolving to try again, even though your efforts seem ineffectual — because there are invisible tides in the World, and someday the tide will be in your favor again, no matter how impossible that may seem right now.
History has hinge moments, when things turn. They are usually invisible to the people who live through them, until much later. Winter Solstice is one of the hinge moments we can see, and it reminds us of the hinge moments we can’t see.
Wishing you the best in this time of darkness,