The first day of spring always reminds me of crawling across a finish line, battered and bruised but utterly relieved. In a climate like the one in which we live, north of the Forty-Fourth Parallel, the arrival of the vernal equinox is really more of a moral victory than an atmospheric one—snow and ice will reign supreme here for many weeks more—but the knowledge that we have achieved a balance between daylight and darkness and that we are far closer to milder days than we were months ago is indeed worth celebrating.
It is also worth the optimism of springlike photographs!
I also really enjoy the glee heralded by last day of winter … in some ways even more than the first day of spring. Because while the first day of spring is like eagerly planting a flag on a long-anticipated and enticing patch of turf, dreaming of pleasant things to come, the last day of winter offers the smug satisfaction of accomplishment. Finishing the last page of a book, after all, is much more gratifying than finishing the first page of a new one.
Best wishes for your springtime! May the seeds you plant—whatever they may be—burst forth with all that makes your spirit sing.
That’s the sound of us smiling at the knowledge that we’ve officially reached the shortest day of the year, which means that we’re now beginning our collective, slow, ever-spinning swing back toward gradually and increasingly lighter days, a journey around the sun that we all make together.
One of the really great things about solstices is their unifying characteristic—everyone in the world experiences them more or less simultaneously, together. Better than that, they also connect us with the celebratory traditions of countless cultures around the world, transcending both space and time, as well as our natural world and everything of which it consists. They remind us that we’re all more alike than we are different, and that’s particularly comforting on the darkest night of the year.
Sunlight is returning!
If you are so inclined to celebrate, perhaps you may consider borrowing traditions from one of the societies around our planet that have welcomed the lengthening days over many thousands of years. Forgive grudges, as did folks in ancient Rome, share food with others, as was done in Poland, or create your own way to celebrate the occasion. Light candles, invite loved ones to share a special meal or pause to remember those you cannot be with, volunteer, recommit to a goal or an ideal … or perhaps do nothing at all save feeling smug and pleased that there will be more daylight tomorrow than there is today.
This holiday comes at a particularly good time of year, not just because it is a season of harvest and bounty but also because we are heading into days with increasingly less daylight … and that makes it particularly important to rally our spirits and focus on what is right with our lives.
We encourage you to not place overly lofty expectations on yourselves during this Thanksgiving and the season of festivities soon to follow. In the challenging whirl and hubbub of the entire holiday season and its seemingly endless string of obligations, stress, and exhaustion, is easy to agonize so much over the details and minutiae that we largely miss the point of this longtime tradition—which is to celebrate our blessings, contemplate our gratitude for everything that is going well, remember those who are less fortunate in some way, and—if we choose—to break bread with loved ones. Our holidays need not be Hallmark moments; setting ourselves up for such an expectation may not be to our collective advantage.
In fact, simplicity is often preferred.
If at all possible, consider taking some time to rest and relax, to breathe deeply, and to reflect on the goodness in your lives.
In closing, we offer these wise words:
It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.