Sunday, December 21, 2008
The Shortest Day
by Susan Cooper
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Third snowstorm in a week. We're snowed in for days and days. So many holiday activities cancelled. Now I'm beginning to think that Christmas Eve dinner at my place, the Feast of Seven Fishes, is going to wait until New Year's Eve. Living on the hill, it will be impossible for family and friends to travel here.
This quiet time, reduced to small forays on foot in the neighborhood and snuggling in my little house, is peaceful and comfortable. But it's not what I expected. Usually there is rushing and shopping and doing and seeing in the few days before Christmas. I've planned a menu for people who can't come, with food I can't shop for. I'm missing a few gifts for people on my list that I might not even get to see on Christmas. So we sit by the fire and catch up on reading. Walk in the snow, watch afternoon movies and nap. It's nice. Sort of suspended in time. And yet each day that passes is a little more worrisome as it gets closer to the holiday.
There are so many work tasks I could be doing - preparing for January and using this time to get ahead. But I'm not. I'm purposely not working. Intentionally not even thinking about it. This is a special time. And a time to enjoy the moment. There will be plenty of time ahead to work and to plan and to accomplish chores. But now is the time to savor the pleasures of winter. The shortest day. The longest night. The quietest hush.