The dusk is lit with glittering snow-capped roofs and icicles dripping from trees. The holiday lights framing windows and hanging on the eves of balconies sends prisms dancing across the ground. It’s a chilly dark winter night, and yet revelers dressed in Santa hats are standing outside singing carols and sipping warm spirits. The holidays are here, and so is the winter solstice and the return of the light.
I love this time of year. People are more joyful, a little kinder and the holiday lights brighten up the gloom of long winter nights. The holidays can still be rough for many people. RA or other chronic illness can upheave our lives and disrupt our plans with pain, stiffness, and fatigue. Many people may not be ready to celebrate. They may live far away from friends and family, they may not have family, or they are still isolating while the rest of the world carries on. It’s been a conflicting year for many – 2022 started out so promising but it moved too fast, and like the floodgates opening on a dam, the current swept everyone up in its swells – some fought against the current, some got lost in the undertow, and some found refuge on the banks and waited – me, I found a strange peace in allowing it to carry me along.
Every year I face the list of things I want to do – go caroling, tour gardens glowing with holiday lights, go to parties with glitter in my hair, drink rum and Egg Nog – instead I listen to carols in the comfort of home, I enjoy the neighbourhood lights, and I always forget I don’t really like Egg Nog, so I have a little Irish Cream and Brandy instead. It always goes so fast, but this year feels different somehow, less chaotic, less urgent. I’ve learned to bring the experience of the last two years into my daily life. I focus less on getting that perfect gift and more on just trying to give time to family and friends, and to myself.
The winter solstice is a time of hibernation and restoration. After the solstice, the days start to get a little longer and the light returns. A New Year is here before we know it. It’s an opportunity for renewal, to begin again, to hope again, to just be still and enjoy the moments that are right in front of us instead of worrying about tomorrow and pining for yesterday. The sun’s return to the earth is the optimism that will carry us through to a New Year.
In the silver-gray twilight, the snow glistens beneath the lights. I look through the frosted window and reflect on the challenges and victories of the last year, as I prepare to welcome the light. It’s a time to awaken dreams and allow the negative energy to slide into the darkness and emerge transformed.
Happy Yule, Happy Christmas, Happy Winter – whatever you celebrate, embrace a new season and let it take you up and out of the darkness.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.