It’s the winter solstice today – the shortest day of the year – a day of transition and rebirth. The earth is turning from darkness back into the light, and so it’s a day of hope. A promise that, ever so slowly, things will start getting brighter. They will start getting better.
Days like this are meant for reflection – for thinking about the past and contemplating the future. And at this time of year, I can’t help but think about my mother, who died of cancer in 2009. So many of my Christmas decorations and rituals hold memories of her. There are things we bought together, on our annual trips to Christmas craft fairs. Things we made together, like butterhorns and candy cane cookies. Movies we watched every year, from the original Miracle on 34th Street to Love Actually. At this time of year, her nearness and her absence are an almost physical ache.
I think, too, about the things I learned from her – from her life and from her death. When it came to Christmas gifts, Mom believed the thought didn’t count unless it was a good thought: she made giving an act of love, not obligation. She believed that beauty doesn’t have a season, and that if she wanted to listen to Christmas carols in March, March was the perfect time to play them. She proved that life takes a lot more courage than death, and showed me how to be brave.
And so I’ll face 2014 with hope and determination – I’ll dream the life I want to live and find a way to bring it forth. I’ll remember that nothing can be taken from us unless we choose to give it up. I’ll know that everything changes…that sooner or later every darkness will give way to light.
For everyone who’s far from their loved ones at this time of year, be they alive or alive only in memory, know that you’re not alone. I’m thinking of you, and wishing you peace.