Another year is almost over, and we’re still grappling with Covid-19. Whether or not you got the vaccine, it’s still a little scary wondering if you will get the virus. I’m still wearing my mask in indoor public places, even though so many are not. I wonder how this holiday season will go with many people deciding to celebrate as they have in the past, traveling and partying and spending a lot of time indoors with small to large crowds. It remains to be seen what the numbers will reflect when it’s all over.
Meanwhile, the December holidays are spread throughout the calendar, and some of us are looking forward to them, while others will just be glad when they’re over. I’ll be with my mother, and my sister will be with us for a few days before she goes home to spend Christmas with her family. I expect it to be a quiet time for reflection and gratitude for the many good things that have graced my life.
My family celebrates Christmas, so that’s the only tradition I know much about. There are two other cultural holidays in this month that many people celebrate: Hanukkah is the Jewish eight-day “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, and Kwanzaa, a holiday that celebrates African heritage and identity. Various, lesser-known holidays are sprinkled throughout the month, too. It’s good to have these celebrations in the darkest, coldest part of the year. I like seeing all the lights that people decorate their homes with; they brighten the nights that sometimes seem intermitable.
The winter solstice is this month, too, the shortest period of daylight of the year. Here is a poem that spoke to me with a few writing prompts you can use to reflect on this time of year:
Winter Solstice Prayer by Edward Hays
The dark shadow of space leans over us…
We are mindful that the darkness of greed, exploitation, and hatred
also lengthens its shadow over our small planet Earth.
As our ancestors feared death and evil and all the dark powers of winter,
we fear that the darkness of war, discrimination, and selfishness
may doom us and our planet to an eternal winter.
May we find hope in the lights we have kindled on this sacred night,
hope in one another and in all who form the web-work of peace and justice
that spans the world.
In the heart of every person on this Earth
burns the spark of luminous goodness;
in no heart is there total darkness.
May we who have celebrated this winter solstice,
by our lives and service, by our prayers and love,
call forth from one another the light and the love
that is hidden in every heart.
How does the lack of daylight culminating with “the shortest day of the year” affect you? What can you do to counteract any feelings of depression or anxiousness that may bubble up during this time?
Write about the goodness of people. It’s easy to complain about the negativity in the world, but write here about something positive that lightens your mood.
Celebrate the winter solstice this year by lighting a candle to illuminate the dark and then list some of the things for which you are grateful as this year ends.