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Winter Light – Nelly Volkovich

They say that spring will come again

No one knows exactly when

Still the suns a long lost friend

on the longest night of the year

You might recognize the opening lyrics from the Mary Chapin Carpenter song, “The Longest Night of the Year”, from her holiday album, Come Darkness, Come Light.

For those of us who sprouted roots above 40°N latitude, daylight works part-time during the winter solstice, and night becomes the primary custodian of our diurnal rhythm. The official longest night of the year occurs on December 22, a few days shy of Christmas day. It’s a harbinger of the season, like evergreen trees, cozy fires, and that Jack Frost nipping at your nose. After January 1, we shovel the light of holiday cheer back in the attic and have to contend with long dark nights on our own. About the time February arrives, many of us grow frustrated with winter, wondering if spring is ever going to return. The calendar says spring equinox officially begins March 20, yet we had snowfall well into April last year.

I used to think the world was small

Bright and shining like a ball

Seems I don’t know much at all

on the longest night of the year

Sometimes we need a lesson from those who reside further north than our 40° latitude.   One year, we spent Christmas week with good friends in central Sweden, where daylight lasted less than seven hours. Swedes are quite familiar with long nights, and bring light to the dark with window candles and fire pots on doorsteps and public places.

Savjo Sweden - DT Krippene

Savjo Sweden – DT Krippene

If dark winter nights get you down, you can spend the holidays at locations where the equinox doesn’t impact the weather, or is the exact reverse. I lived in Singapore for a few years, a city-state eighty-eight miles from the equator. Night and day rotated on equal shifts; twelve hours light, twelve dark. While darkness is busy partying in the northern hemisphere, light reigns supreme south of the equator. We spent a holiday season at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Opening presents in 90° heat and 65% humidity didn’t feel right to me at first, but the girls loved the idea of putting a Christmas star(fish) on a sand tree.

Konstanttin - DepositPhotos.com

Konstanttin – DepositPhotos.com

We press our faces to the glass

And see our little lives go past

Wave to shadows that we cast

on the longest night of the year

You can call me old fashioned. I’m still wrapped in childhood memories of frosted windows, cold-numbed feet and runny noses. It’s one of the few times of the year I look forward to the night, both in celebration of the man who gave us the reason for the season, and the anticipation of a jolly old man in a red suit.

Alekuwka - DepositPhotos.com

Alekuwka – DepositPhotos.com

Make a vow when Solstice comes

To find the Light in everyone

Keep the faith and bang the drum

On the longest night of the year

It isn’t about the night. It’s about the light of our human spirit that keeps the darkness from our hearts.

So keep me safe and hold me tight

Let the candle burn all night

Tomorrow welcome back the light

Twas the longest night of the year

I’m as anxious as anyone for the light of spring, but I like long winter nights, especially when the air is crisp and the heavens glitter with stars. Plenty of light in the night sky if you look for it. And take heart. After winter solstice, it’s getting lighter every day.

Valentyn_Volkov - DepositPhotos.com

Valentyn_Volkov – DepositPhotos.com

Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, and may your days be long and bright in the New Year.


Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Longest Night of the Year



You can find Mary Chapin Carpenter’s Holiday Album,

Come Darkness, Come Light“,

from her Website, Amazon, or ITunes.