December is the time when we celebrate the fact that we’ve made it through another year. The stars align for the Solstice, when the day and night are equal as autumn morphs into winter. Christmas is just around the corner. This December marks another year of a global pandemic, an experience that has drastically changed how we live in the world. We try as best we can in this second year of COVID to get together with friends and family. To celebrate in ways we used to, and long for, all the while knowing it will never again be the same, and it’s time for some new traditions.
One thing that will never change, in my humble opinion, is December’s festival of lights. We drape strings of white, red, and green bulbs from windows and doorways and trees, in homes and businesses, on street lights and rooftops. Candles flicker in the velvet nighttime. Fires warm the hearth. Stars sparkle above. It’s a time of gifting, and parties and laughter and, hopefully, good cheer. It is also a time, for many, of remembrance and loss. We have all experienced loss for a myriad of reasons and this time of year heightens their absences. This pandemic has taken so much but it has also given back. The gifts we cherish this season have nothing to do with presents and everything to do with presence. To hold our loved ones, to celebrate their health, to toast each other with happiness and joy.
Each year in this month I take the time to consider what I’ve learned in the past twelve months. The pandemic successes and failures have kept us on a roller coaster ride. So much is out of our control. But in this second year came the acceptance that life has definitely changed and now we must adjust. I think nothing of donning a mask to enter the grocery store or providing my vax card to enter a restaurant. It’s the new normal. I would do whatever I could to be able to spend time with my loved ones, my grandson. The past two years have challenged us all in ways we could never have imagined (and definitely did not prepare for) but although I feel exhausted by it all, I am also hopeful and optimistic. There’s a lot of letting go involved and that is no easy thing.
During my childhood living on the north shore of the great Lake Superior, the darkness of December was early, deep, and sharp. It allowed me to see the stars in brilliant relief, great blankets of them swept across the black canvas of night. On those magical nights when the Northern Lights waved over the expanse of the sky, it was easy to believe in something greater than myself. So much power in that magnificent, magnetic event. The Aurora Borealis. It even has sound. A song that weaves across the star studded expanse, wrapped in green and blue. I felt a deep awe for nature, small and insignificant in the presence of such an event. But I was also uplifted, singing my own song, making my own magic.
It’s easy to be awed and amazed when I look at the sky that way. I’ve always made wishes upon those celestial lights. I could believe there was power in those little points of light drifting down on me from millions of miles above. Yet so often we deny the magic in ourselves as we hope and wish for something beyond ourselves. Perhaps it’s the belief itself that makes the wish come true. Who can say for certain? Perhaps because of the belief system I was raised in but I have a lot of faith in the new year, the promise of change and something better than the year just ended. Belief in my ability to live and thrive in this new normal. Mostly, though, I just feel gratitude. A simple thank you that my loved ones are still here for me to talk to and hold. I could wish for nothing more magical than that. Happy Solstice.