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Sunday, 21 December 2008

The Winter Solstice and sombre reflections

The Winter Solstice today - the shortest day of the year. From now onwards the days get longer. It's when I start to see in early January that the days really are getting longer that I realise that Spring will arrive eventually. I tend to suffer from SAD but it is exacerbated by the usual gloom of Christmas, my birthday and several sad anniversaries.

34 years ago today my mother died of multiple organ failure at the age of 45. You would think after all this time I wouldn't remember it, but I do every time. I think it is probably because of its proximity to Christmas and my parent's wedding anniversary - 20 December - which is also my own wedding anniversary and the anniversary of my divorce. (33 years ago and 25 years ago respectively). I was married on what would have been my parent's silver wedding anniversary 20 December 1975 - it seemed like a nice thing to do at the time. I suspect now that my mother's death was part of the reason why I dashed with unseemly haste into matrimony just a year later. It was like clutching at anyone or anything which affirmed life.

Once again the festive season will soon be upon us and I find that every year I am more against the commercialism of it all. I had my Tesco shopping delivered yesterday and we were going to Marks & Spencer tomorrow for a few goodies as we have some M&S vouchers we've had for a while. Then I looked at the fridge and the freezer - both as full as they could possibly be - and suggested we didn't go. I haven't a clue where I'd fit anything else in so it seemed a bit stupid. We have booze - neither of us drinks very much; 3 Christmas puddings; chocolates; the meat we're having for Christmas day; a raspberry and frangipane tart in case we don't fancy Christmas pudding; fruit, veg, bread etc. More than enough with which to enjoy Christmas and probably New Year as well. So we've called a halt to it and said what we haven't got now we will go without.

It's not after all the food you eat or the booze you drink - nice though they are - but the people you're with which matters. You won't remember the food later only what you did and who you did it with. With that thought in mind I shall endeavour to instil some cheerfulness into my head - or at least less gloom. I shall start Christmas on Wednesday evening with Christmas Mass at our local church with my next door neighbour and remember what Christmas is really about.

Happy Christmas to everyone


Anne Brooke said...

Sorry to hear of the bad memories, Jilly - thinking of you loads.

And hope you have a good Christmas.

Love & hugs


Jilly said...

I feel quite a bit better today - thank you for thinking of me. I usually start to get back to normal soon after Christmas though the lead up to it is always bad. It helped writing about it - should have done that before.

NAM said...

Yes, that is an awful lot to contend with, and I remember most of it, of course - just hadn't realised how it all came together in quite such a bunch.

I think the winter-born in particular need a personal ritual of Sun Return (to borrow Ursula K LeGuin's phrase from the Earthsea books) to help feel that the light and warmth are coming back. Certainly you and Keith, and even my father could have done with it, since although he was an optimist, he always greeted Midsummer's Day (which to me felt like a high point) with "Oh, now the nights start drawing in".

Even I feel the need of such a ritual for the balance of the year, so we're trying to think of one! Why not create something that would suit you? It might be as simple as lighting a candle or reciting a poem or visiting a particular place; it really ought to be on the shortest day, but no need to be too hidebound just because we've missed that this year. New year's Day would probably be another good date.

Winter hugs,

Jilly said...

Thanks, Noreen. Yes you're right about some sort of a ritual. last year I found going to the 'midnight'(10.00pm this year) service at the church was almost like saying goodbye to all the bad things and looking forward to the New Year with hope. I'm thinking this might serve the same purpose this year as well.
Thank you for the hugs - I am feeling a bit better now.