I've begun to have a renewed enthusiasm for Winter Solstice. About 10 years ago I pretty much gave up on Christmas. With no family to share it with and no children of my own it became a strange time for me and my partner. We tried throwing ourselves into it; buying presents, trimming up the house, cooking a big fancy meal but no matter how hard we tried we both felt flat, grumpy and lonely.
We were pretending - dressing up and playing a character rather than accepting that for us, as well as so many others Christmas was a hard time of year. The memories of Christmas pasts lurked. I used to fantasise about what my family was doing, how they were enjoying themselves, how I was left out. It was painful and I have for at least 9 of the last 10 years really hated bloody Christmas!
As a child I felt obsessed with the gleam of Christmas, the chance to escape the misery of what was happening to me by getting lost in toys and food and glittering lights. But it was like eating a great big tin of sweets. No matter how full I was I still wanted to eat something nourishing.
Enter Winter Solstice!! Firstly it happens just before Christmas so it can't get mixed up in the feelings that descend on Christmas Eve and usually linger until Boxing Day and secondly it actually symbolises something good. Being half way out of the darkness is a wonderful feeling. To know the days are going to gracefully elongate themselves over the next few months, even if snow and ice descends cheers me up like no amount of presents could. I like the idea of our ancestors bringing the outside in to light up their homes and to stave off the dark. and it's real, it means something that is lasting.
This year it feels more special because that phrase 'halfway out of the darkness' feels true for the journey I've been on for so many years. My thoughts are less dark now, tinged now with light and hope. I can for the first time feel that some sort of healing has happened. I can string together days and weeks, even months, when I have energy to live, an interest in the world around me and a feeling of contentment.
I am halfway (if not more) out of the darkness. And I'm grateful.