Mid-December and Mother Nature’s black velvet dress cloaks our muddy valley, accented here and there by defiant Christmas lights casting their colours into the void. We homo sapiens have celebrated light at this darkest time of the year for millennia, and so it continues. As perennial as the grass.


Ninety km south of the 49th parallel, day at this time of year lasts less than 10 hours of every 24. Evening chores demand headlamps, while morning chores feature a soft, grey, drizzly dawn some days, a hard glittery white-frosted world others. I prefer the drizzle, less buckets to carry when the water lines are ice-free.

Holiday preparations are well underway, and along with the lists and the errands, the baking and unpacking, my sack of memories grows larger and heavier each year. How can I help but think of the halcyon days of our youth, as I stick childish brown construction paper reindeer and jolly red elves with cotton ball beards to the walls? Unwrap the tree decorations, so many inscribed with the year and recipient’s initials in my mother’s increasingly spidery hand, stilled forever too long ago. Pull out the red tea towels, won in a silly happy noisy family gift game instigated by my Dad’s dear second wife, taken from us far too early. I can still hear her laughter ring out across our crowded table.


My heart aches, and yet, how ridiculous. These memories are riches. How must it be for those who don’t have my blessings? My children, my huge loving family, my comfortable home and happy marriage, my fulfilling work with like-minded colleagues, my hobbies and interests, my life.

So I shall bustle. Distract myself. I will not be blue, dammit! I will busy myself with projects, and wrapping, and cooking and shopping. With visiting, and trips to see the light displays, and I will smile at my checkout line companions and giggle at the parking lot gridlock and when I can’t stand the traffic, I will avoid it entirely, a choice I am fully aware is a luxury only granted to a few.

I will be grateful that I woke up. I will savour what each day brings, like this morning’s discovery; the accidental flowering of a discarded grocery store cyclamen, shoved out the back door months ago and left to fend for itself.

How lucky I am to have another day to spread some love in this big crazy mixed up world we share. It surprises me too, this accidental flowering of joy out of my own private darkness, and I reach out and hold on tight. Solace.