I grew up on the western edge of the Eastern Standard time zone. That means that the sun went down a little later in our corner of southwestern Ohio. I did not appreciate this fact until I came East to go to college in Connecticut. I called my mother that first fall: “The sun goes down at 4:30pm!” Mom sent me a high-spectrum sun lamp. I wrote my papers under it and staved off the worst of the seasonal depression, without escaping it all together.
I moved back to Connecticut two and half years ago. And I love it here. There is something about the fall sky in Connecticut – the clouds are like none I’ve seen anywhere else. This year, the leaves were more than stunning. We love being close to the shore and delight in sea gulls in seemingly random places: downtown, the grocery store parking lot.
And once again, daylight savings time (that odd misnomer) came this year on November 3rd, and now the sun goes down at 4:30pm. Today, December 9th, the official sunset time is 4:22pm. I’ve begun turning on lights and lighting candles before the sun sets. As the darkness settles, I think of us spinning our way toward the darkest night of the year, the winter solstice. I remember that after December 21st, the days will lengthen and the sky will progressively lighten. The sun will return. And though months of winter remain ahead of us, we will welcome the light and turn our faces toward the sun.
A devoted detester of winter, I married a man who loves the snow, loves the cold, the coziness of winter evenings. He has helped me to change my view of these darkest nights of the year. One of his most beloved albums is “December” by George Winston. It and Handel’s “Messiah” are the sound track of our Decembers. Winston’s calm, quiet piano solos warm the winter air and make one wish for a fresh fall of snow (which we just may get tonight). Through the music, I am reminded of the blessings of darkness. I pray that I may not just wait out these dark days, but embrace them, lean into them, cherish them. I pray that I might write and cook and reflect and love my way through December and find the joy therein as the light fades and then returns.
I wish the same for you.