To everyone else she knew, the winter was something to be dreaded with its short, cold days and long, even colder nights. To them the world seemed dead and lifeless with very little to give them joy beyond the traditional pleasures of the season.
There were, of course, always many candies and treats to be had, eggnog, sweet preserves, plum pudding, and a variety of meats and tropical fruits that were shipped from all over the world. They put up their holiday decorations knowing little about them beyond the tradition of doing so. They built fires and drank cocoa. And they despised the dark that came in the long winter months after the world outside seemed to die, wanting nothing more than to see the long, hot days of summer to return.
But she understood what it all meant.
She relished the autumn when the world showed us what beauty is to be had to let the dead things go and remain quiet for a time. She had had her own autumn and she was ready to rest herself.
She enjoyed the bountious foods as well but because she saw them as the fruits of the rest of the year’s labors. She had labored hard for her own harvests in life and was ready to see the fruits of her labor rewarded… in the right time.
She loved the darkness that brought her into long nights of deep slumber and soul-refreshing rest. It was much needed, that rest, and she knew far too many people felt the heavy weight of obligation and self-reproach that despised time spent in solitude and self care.
But most of all she basked in the beauty of the evergreens and other decorations. To everyone else, it was so because it had always been so: trees, lights, holly, ornaments, gifts, the colors of the season. To her, it was the beauty of a tradition and mindset that had existed since the beginning of humankind:
The evergreen trees were life when everything else seemed like death. It was good and wholesome to remember that even when things seemed darkest that there is always life… and light. The twinkling glow of twinkle lights, candles, and fires left burning overnight were more than a soft golden glow, the were the light in the darkest hour that, although small and perhaps insignificant on their own combined to bring light to an otherwise black world. The ornaments were precious, carefully made treasures that on their own may have been worth very little if not for the stories they inspired people to tell of their ancestors, of their past, of their hopes and dreams and beliefs. And the gifts were not just the opportunity to share love and fulfill wants and needs, they were the reminder that it is a beautiful and powerful thing to give not just out of one’s bounty, but also out of one’s poverty. But most of all she loved the holly because it encompassed all these things in the prickly green and white leaves as well as the red berries. It reminded her that although things may be prickly and challenging at times, one shouldn’t forget to be thankful for the life therein, and that the greatest gift any of us could receive was the gift of grace.
So while everyone around her bustled and busied themselves with too many self-inflicted obligations and expectations, she sat back quietly enjoying the rhythm of her short days and long nights, sleeping with the window open to bask in the crispness of frozen air. She looked around thankfully for there was little more she actually needed. And she smiled at the sprig of holly she had hung over the door feeling the happy hope of knowing everything in the new year would be alright and that the darkness never lasts forever.
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