The Shortest Day
by Susan Cooper
And 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, revelling.
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, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And now so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.”
Winter officially arrives today - Saturday, December 21 - although most of the country has already experienced its ferocity. The Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, was celebrated at my granddaughter’s preschool.
Cold temperatures and long, dark nights characterize this time of year. But with every cloud there is a silver lining. And with the onset of winter it is that every day the amount of time suffused in daylight gets a little bit longer.
I cannot wait until darkness does NOT arrive before 5:00 p.m.
…when I feel tired, as if bedtime is almost here.
…when going out to dinner before darkness descends and the roads ice over means partaking of the early bird special.
…when dragging myself out of bed to attend exercise class in the morning no longer requires turning on the car lights and driving to the gym in darkness.
…when dressing to go outside does not necessitate layers of clothing and cold weather accessories.
…when holiday lights are not needed to brighten the blackness.
The preschoolers and their parents walked in a procession, forming a circle and singing "This Little Light of Mine Let It Shine". It was a wonderful way to celebrate the shortest day of the year and celebrate the holiday season without specific religious motifs.
The song "This Little Light of Mine" has been sung by many artists, among them Bruce Springsteen. Enjoy his version here.