I have this thing about solstice, the winter one especially. I’ve written about it more than once. I like to mark it in my mind, to note that after this night, the 364 (or 365) nights that follow will all hold more light than this one.
This year, as always, it came upon us quickly, buried underneath the piles of exams and concerts and holiday planning that increase every year it seems. I was busy all day and evening this winter solstice, and when I went to bed that night, after midnight, I couldn’t sleep. No, not couldn’t, actually. For some reason, I just didn’t want to. I thought about the day, the darkest of the year, and about how it had been filled, filled with work and bustle and so much about Christmas.
Finally, at one a.m., I eased myself out of bed and crept downstairs. I wanted to step out into all that still, quiet darkness of night, to really see the full of it. I opened the front door and walked out onto my porch. Having done this many times before, I knew all the neighborhood Christmas lights would all be off by now, mine included.
I don’t mean to make more of what I saw than what it was; doubtless, there’s some lackluster explanation. But when I stood on that porch, I realized my own lights, most of them anyway, were still on. I went inside and double-checked the time. According to both the microwave and the oven, it was indeed past one in the morning. I returned to the porch, thinking maybe LCB had adjusted the timers, or maybe, I reasoned, I was confusing the set times with last year’s times. We do like to keep our lights on late, after all.
Then I looked over one side of my porch, to my neighbors’ house.
Their many lights usually turn off around midnight. Tonight, however, one lone strand remained on, glowing red between the bushes and palm trees between us. I leaned out over my porch, just to be sure I wasn’t seeing something else, like the car lights of a late-night visitor.
Nope. They were Christmas lights, woven around the front-yard greenery.
Then I turned in the opposite direction and there, on the front porch of another house across the street and down the road, glowed the soft warm-yellow lights that hung from the porch.
Maybe a long-faithful timer finally bit the dust this Christmas season, and now my neighbors are left trying to remember the lights each night. The most probable explanation, of course, is I’ve confused the times everyone’s lights go off this year. I know that. But in that moment, I didn’t care.
All I knew then and all I remember now is that on the darkness night of the year, when I stepped out into all that darkness, all I saw was light.
“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people.” Luke 2:30-31
May your Christmas and your new year be filled with sight.