Winter Solstice at Our Little House

It may not feel like it, but the winter is setting after today

Today is the Winter Solstice, or the shortest day of light throughout the entire year. It would have also been my mother’s 86th birthday.

When she was a kid, she used to feel cheated, thinking she had a birthday on literally “the shortest day of the year.”

Actually, it is fitting my mother was born on this day, in the middle of a blizzard in Chicago, as Winter Solstice celebrations have long been about a day of celebrating re-birth, the beginning of the end of the darkness of winter.

For many years, she was also the light of our family and I could always draw upon her strength to see me through any dark time.

From here on out, our days will become longer, if only by seconds and a few minutes at first, but before you know it, we will be looking beyond the cold and gray and at the rebirth of spring.

I will be celebrating Winter Solstice today by taking in the wonder of the beauty around me here in the Ozark Mountains. We often call this time of year here “The bare time,” as it seems so bare and ugly as we survey the mountains from afar.

However, every day I walk from Our Little House to the Belle Writer’s Studio, I’m reminded of how lucky we are to be in such a place, even in the barest of winter.

And there’s no day more appropriate to remember the hope of longer light than the shortest day of the year.

Did you know that the original celebration of Christmas actually began centuries before the birth of Jesus as a celebration of the Winter Solstice and that recognizing Jesus’ birth during that celebration was a way for the Church to get people to accept the celebration as a religious, rather than a secular holiday?

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14 Responses

  1. Alexandra says:

    November is my least favorite month. I make it through early December by remembering the coming Winter Solstice, and the fact that the days will lengthen. In my mind, I always think, Ah, Spring is on the way!

  2. Happy Winter Solstice, a day late. I crave more daylight so glad we’re moving on.

  3. Kristi says:

    A friend just shared with me that in her community the church has what they call a Blue Christmas ceremony for those who are mourning a loss at the Christmas season. It is held on the day of the Winter Solstice. What a nice thing for those who are keeping a sadness in their heart at this time. It is also good to realize, we are not alone in our blend of feelings, from happiness to sadness.

    • kerri says:

      That is a wonderful thing to do, Kristi. I know so many people are sad at this time of the year. It is a time definitely for reflection and nostalgia. I don’t know one person who doesn’t miss someone during the holidays.

  4. Our family is not Christian, so when our daughters were growing up, we tried to emphasize that the Christmas season is a time for families and friends to celebrate our love and connection to each other. We also explained that the holiday’s origin was actually a celebration of the Winter Solstice, not Christ’s birthday.

    My dad was always the driving force behind the Christmas spirit in our house, when I was growing up. I don’t blame my mother for not being quite as enthusiastic. There were six kids in our family and for her, I know that it was a lot of work each year. Dad has been gone for four years now, and each Christmas I miss the way he threw himself into the holiday- singing carols, cutting a cedar tree to decorate, building fires in the fireplace and carving the turkey at Christmas dinner. There wasn’t a single detail of the season he didn’t fully enjoy.

    I can understand how you miss your mother on her birthday and all year through, Kerri. Like your mom, my Dad was the light in our family, who made Christmas magical no matter how tight our finances were.

    Happy birthday to your mother! Though I never knew her, I can only assume she was as fine a person as the daughter she raised. I’ll keep her and you in my heart today. Happy Winter Solstice- here’s to light- whether from the sun and stars, or the love that shines from the hearts of those nearest and dearest to us.

    • kerri says:

      What a wonderful sentiment, Kathy! Thank goodness we have those wonderful memories of Christmases past. So many people never had the opportunity to enjoy the full meaning of the holiday.
      Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  5. Olivia says:

    I love this day, despite the fierce Atlantic storm we are currently having, with howling winds,lashing rain and frightening storm (tidal) surges. It’s impossible to sleep when it sounds like a freight train is doing laps around your house all night. Morning brings the continuing storm with downed tree branches, mailboxes and waste bins overturned, etc. No chance of seeing the lunar eclipse here last night.

    However – it’s the turning toward light that I love. I was born at the beginning of summer when the days are longest: I am a child of the light.

    I guess I regard the “barren-ness” of the winter landscape as “Sabbath time”. Although trees and bushes may look bare and lifeless, they are, in fact, conserving their resources as they prepare for the great flowering of life that will burst forth in the spring. It’s a sacred mystery that inspires me.

    Sending blessings to your little family in your wee house, Kerri.

  6. That is kind of cool that your mom’s b-day was the solstice. And, yes … I did know all about the return of the light. I hang on by my fingernails during the dark time of year. So glad the days are now getting longer.

    I actually went to bed and had Tom wake me up so that I could see the start of the eclipse. :o)

  7. Kim says:

    Yep. Most of our “Christian” holidays were conveniently stuffed into pre-Christian celebrations. Sneaky.

    Kerri, you really need to go hiking on some of the scenic trails during the winter… it’s quiet, uncrowded, much easier to see wildlife, and the views of the amazing rock that makes up our bluffs and mountains are just fantastic. The trick is finding a day off with warm weather… but it is fantastic. Not at all “bare and ugly” if you look at it with new eyes! 🙂

    (Happy Solstice. I stayed up too late wrangling databases and popping outside to watch the eclipse. I’m gonna hurt tomorrow.)

    • kerri says:

      We will have to do that, Kim. I would love to go into the Buffalo National Park this time of year.
      Happy Winter Solstice to you as well!