Wishes for the Winter Solstice

Social media recently surprised me with old photos of me in front of kindergartners at a local school, telling them about the winter solstice.

If you love to tell stories, as I do, you gotta love how transfixed five year olds are when you move into a bit of a singsong chant about how it gets dark when we go to sleep, and the sun goes to sleep too, every night, and then in the morning we wake up (happy hands shoot up here), just like the sun does every morning. In the winter, the sun needs more rest, so it rests in the dark for longer and longer nights.

And then comes the solstice!

Hooray, the sun is waking up and lighting the sky with longer days. Then we remember lots of stories that people have told for hundreds and hundreds of years, like the Oak King and the Holly King, and St. Nicholas’ visit, and other such. Turns out that this school has some kind of educational relationship with NASA (the U.S. National Aeronautic and Space Administration), so these children were all excited to talk to me about planets, the sun, the moon and their movement through the sky. One child raised his hand to ask in a mysterious voice, “But who made the sun?” Another little boy quickly replied, “No one!” Returning to the first child’s question, I replied, also in a mysterious voice, “Who can know these things? It is a Mystery.”

The Winter Solstice is a special time in our house for non-religious reasons, as well as the obvious Pagan traditions.

Both my husband and myself have birthdays the same week, and just the other day we celebrated our wedding anniversary. A bit of Christmas gathering with loved ones makes the season bright for us, even though there is more darkness outside. Like the seasons, however, it took many years for us to find our balance amidst the holiday expectations of others, especially when combined with our own less than happy family holiday pasts.

Looking back, I realize that we needed to rest ourselves in the long cycles of the cosmos, allowing the dark to absorb pain and nurture new roots. If you struggle with the season, as so many do and I have done, watch the skies as a model of patience, endurance and hope.

And if this is for you the “most wonderful time of the year,” I wish you many happy returns of this mysterious turn of the wheel.