Today, December 20th, 2020, marks the second-shortest day of the year. Tomorrow, the winter solstice, will be the turning point and once again, sunshine will begin to prevail–even for just a minute more each day.
I long for longer days. I long for sunlight, and for sunshine whenever it decides to shine. I have lots of windows in my home, and I rarely close any blinds to keep the sun out. I lived in too many basements in college, and I am still making up for lost time.
But without these dark days–the short ones in December, the cloudy ones, and the time I spent living in basements, my appreciation for light wouldn’t be as great. In order to fully bask in the light, one must have spent some time in the dark. Without enduring the dark days devoid of joy that occur in everyone’s lives, we would take the light for granted.
I didn’t decorate much for Christmas this year. Our nest is empty, there will be no gatherings here–or perhaps not anywhere in my family, and we gave our big Christmas tree to our son when he moved out.
Today, however, I decided to string a small string of battery-powered lights on a miniature tree. I love the light as I stated above, and Christmas lights bring me a special kind of joy.
Perhaps even more so than the standard Christmas lights, these had a mind of their own. I spent half an hour trying to unravel the tangled clot they showed up in, and it seemed just as I got one step ahead of the knots, I took two steps back. This fine wire had a mind of its own, and it nearly drove me out of mine.
After they got tangled up in my shoelace, I lost it. I uttered a few choice obscenities, and proceeded to haphazardly strangle the little tree with them. Having just watched Clark Griswold with his outdoor lights, I realized I must have looked just as funny as he did.
Except that I wasn’t trying to be funny. I’d had enough, and I let my frustration get the best of me. In that process, that surrendering self-control, I let the poor little tree have it, and then I paid the price.
One of my Jim Shore collectible Santas that was right next to the tree on the coffee table took the stray bullet, fell down and broke.
And then I broke.
Gail, Suzanne and I collect these treasures, as well as his other pieces. Dad used to buy them for Mom as gifts, and we have kept up the collecting. This wasn’t one of Mom’s, but it may as well have been, because I felt her there immediately. Both Mom and Dad were there, as a matter of fact.
The cardinal that Santa was holding broke off. And we all know what cardinals signify.
I don’t need to remind you that this year has been one we all hope to simply survive, and move on to happier times. With a little grace, however, we can use these dark days to remind us what a gift light can be.
My prayer for you is that you have been, and continue to stay well, but we all know that any illness reminds us of the gift that good health is.
My hope for you is that the loved ones you may have lost are still with you for Christmas and every day, alive and well deep within your heart. The cardinal reminds us of that.
Longer days are always coming after the solstice; this is a promise that has never failed. Always.
My Santa can be repaired. I will glue the cardinal back on, and remember every time I look at him that acting out my frustration always gets me nowhere.
And I may even turn on the lights just as they are on my little tree, and remember how important laughter is, especially at myself.
Gail, Suzanne and I may not be able to get together with our siblings and their families for Christmas like we always do, but no matter what, we are always together in spirit. Mom and Dad are there too, always, with or without a cardinal to remind us. These tough times will pass, and we will never take the gift of family gatherings for granted again, because they’re not.
May your Christmas be a reminder of love and light, no matter how you celebrate it.
Merry Christmas from Gail, Suzanne and Kathleen–the sisters of The Sister Lode. Last year’s Christmas picture will have to do. And–don’t forget to laugh!