These darker days are days that feel light to me, a quality versus some quantity. There are car rides to see Christmas lights and walks after dinner, a blanket of sky dotted with stars and a moon fading to new. Poetry and seasonal essays, tea and twinkle lights. Darkness that is light, a quality richer than any quantity.
We bake (many) cookies and bread and I cook a lentil stew that no one is excited to eat except me. I wake one morning to the possibility of snow. I wait. A tiny bit of snow falls, quickly turning to icy drizzle, turning to just drizzle, turning to a thin slush. There are a few patches of snow at the base of the birch trees. It’s as if they closed their branches tighter, as a bird tucks its feathers along its body, nestling against the cold. My sweet birches have tucked themselves in to block the drizzle, to preserve little patches of snow, for me. It’s slush not snow, but I pretend, it’s December after all.
I bring sprigs of evergreen and extra candles to my yoga class. We each light a candle in the cozy, dimly lit studio, releasing what does not serve with the strike of match, the wick taking flame. It’s a simple act, a quiet act, a solstice-inspired act, and it’s lovely to witness each woman taking her turn, pausing a moment, igniting her flame. There are so many stories that float through the world, there were a few in the studio that night, stories whose plots I know little to nothing of but whose energy infuses my being.
As the days tick by, moving deeper into the Christmas season, inching closer to the turning of the calendar year, I’m aware of some shift in space and time. There is bustle all around and, while my days are full, there’s a slowness to them as well. I keep it intentionally so, or try to anyway. Here’s a yes, here’s a no, I ask myself how I want to feel and can I make it so? There’s still the house to clean and the essay waiting for review, and any number of things that may or may not need doing, may or may not get done. I choose carefully, quality over quantity, igniting a flame of release and stoking the embers, heating what wants to emerge. I will eat lentil stew for days and be satisfied, content. It’s December, dark is light, I’m steeping in richness that only I can measure. Yes, I say, yes and yes and yes, choosing wisely the stillness, the light within dark, the gentle quality of something I cannot see but which infuses my being.
That’s what winter is: an exercise in remembering how to still yourself
then how to come pliantly back to life again.
~ Ali Smith ~
P.S. Happy belated Solstice, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Everything to you and you and you. xo