Happy End of the Creeping Darkness!

20171214_195354-1.jpgThe creeping darkness will end this evening at 9:19 pm MT. “Creeping darkness” is a phrase I created, which is probably why you haven’t heard of it before.  I have a hard time with this time of year and the way the darkness comes earlier and earlier, stealing light from my days, and so “end of the creeping darkness” seems a perfect name for this particular event. The correct term, of course, is “winter solstice.”

“Solstice” comes from two Latin words, sol meaning “sun” and sistere meaning “stationary” because on this day, in the northern hemisphere, the sun seems to stand still, as if garnering it’s strength to fight back the darkness.

Technically, the winter solstice marks the moment when there is a 23.5-degree tilt in Earth’s axis and the North Pole is at its furthest point from the sun — from here on, the days will get longer, gaining us an additional 6 and 1/2 hours of sunlight per day by June 21st when the days begin to get shorter again. (This is reversed in the southern hemisphere, so today those down under will be celebrating their summer solstice.)

Though neo-pagans have claimed the solstice for their own, this is one of those natural holidays (holy days) that we all should be celebrating. The end of the lengthening nights. The triumph of light over darkness. We don’t even need the metaphors of light=good and dark=bad to find reason to celebrate this day. It’s simply a day of stillness, of hope. A day to give thanks for the promise that even in our darkest hour, light will return.

My celebration will be simple. I’ll turn on my bowls of light and go outside to toast the pale winter sun with sparking cider. Technically, I will be toasting the moon since the sun will have set hours before, but the sun won’t care. It will be shining brightly in the southern hemisphere, and will return to this part of globe tomorrow with greater strength.

Wishing you a bright and hopeful end of the creeping darkness.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

The Stockings Were Hung by the Heating Unit with Care

A word of advice — if you don’t like the sun setting before 4:30 in the wintertime, be sure to move to the western end of a time zone. The sun sets at the western end of a time zone almost an hour later than the eastern end.

And I live close to the eastern edge of the mountain time zone.

Even worse, there are still three weeks until the end of the creeping darkness.

Usually I wait to put out my bowls of light until close to the winter solstice to celebrate the returning light, but this year, I need them early. Not only does the sun set at 4:30, the long twilights I remember from my previous years in Colorado seem to be missing (maybe because I am further south than where I used to live). So, full dark comes at 5:00. Yikes.

Yesterday I put out the bowls of light.

Today, I put up my Christmas trees. The red tree was a gift to cheer me up three years ago when I couldn’t go anywhere because of my destroyed arm, the green tree was my father’s. I hadn’t intended to bring it with me, but someone thought I needed it, because when my brother helped me move my stuff into a storage unit after my father’s death, there is was.

And now here it is.

One odd aspect of growing older is that everything has a story. Those trees, of course. The stocking that was hung above the heating unit with care was a gift from my sister about fifteen years ago that has been packed away. The bowls the lights are in used to be my mother’s. The table used to belong to an aunt, got handed down to my brother, and now it, too, is here. The red wreath started out as a hatband and will again become a hatband in another week or so.

Every ornament has a story, too. Quite frankly, I had no idea I had so many ornaments — I haven’t had a tree for decades. I put up my father’s tree for him but decorated it with the cute felt nativity set I’d made for my mother when I was young. (It seems to have disappeared. I know she gave it back to me before she died, which is why I had it to use for my father’s tree, but I must have gotten rid of it during one of my storage unit cleansings.) I did recently buy some ornaments from an artist friend — the arabesque (onion shaped) ones — but mostly what I have are things I was gifted. A couple of things I found in with my ornaments, I don’t remember ever seeing before.

It might sound as if I get too attached to things, but if you knew how much stuff that I liked that I’ve gotten rid of over the years, you’d see that some things attach themselves to me, and those are the things I still have.

In this case, it’s good I have the stuff. I mean, first Winter Solstice/Light Festival/Christmas in my new house? Of course, I’ll decorate!!

Besides, it makes the long dark nights on the eastern edge of the time zone a bit brighter.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

 

 

Celebrating the End of the Creeping Darkness

I have always disliked the creeping darkness of fall, each day getting shorter, the nights getting longer, so I used to celebrate the day after the winter solstice — the end of the creeping darkness and the beginning of the brightening.

I didn’t much notice either the light or the dark during the past few years. All my days seemed dark, first with the long dying of my life mate/soul mate then with my grief after this death. But now that I am opening up to life again, opening up to a brighter time, it seems fitting that once again I should celebrate the end of the creeping darkness and the beginning of the brightening.

To that end, I have planted light. I wonder if it will grow.

S

Wishing you a brighter day and a new year filled with light!

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+