Monday, December 21, 2020

Moving into the Light

Annamaria on Winter Solstice

Northern Hemisphere cultures mark this day as the shortest of the year - the time when the days will begin to lengthen.  A reason to celebrate.  Especially this year.  Though the chilliest days of winter are before us, at least - starting today -  more and more light will shine.  This seems to me an apt and hopeful metaphor for what our sacred planet has seen for the past ten months. So I look forward with hope.

                    As close as I can get to my beloved dome this year.

Regular readers of MIE may recall that for the past few years I have been spending the holidays in Italy, and thereby escaping the worst of the icy and gray weather one often finds in my otherwise glorious and beautiful home town.  Since such a venture is impossible this year, I had to find another way to cheer myself up. However, being alone with a Christmas tree did not seem like a formula for dispelling gloom.

I decided on, for me, I typically kookie solution: Sans tree, decor that includes all the otherwise Christmasy baubles and lots and lots of lights.  Here, in addition to the above, is a look at the mixed results - some lovely, some a bit lame, some really cute, and all cheerful.

                       That's Jane Austen in the blue dress!

My plan is working. I am smiling a lot as I look around me.

The last time I had to approach Christmas with such sadness was in 2001.  The annual festival of lights came just a few months after 9/11.  In my part of town, you could still smell the pile of rubble and hear the work of the search crews. My neighbors and I decided that we would string lights on our houses.  Then as now, it seemed that what our world needed most was light.

In those days, I hosted Christmas Eve with a typical Italian banquet of many fish dishes:

                                Christmas 2001: Today those empty chairs seem sadly symbolic

But in 2001, I also found - as I do now - great comfort in the length and breadth of my friendships.  So that year, I reached out to dear ones around the US and the world.  I mailed them the words to a favorite carol with lyrics that seemed so appropriate to the moment.  I asked them, at ten PM, their local time, to sing the song in solidarity with New York.  For those around my table, that was the moment we carried in the flaming pudding and we sang, not the typical "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," but the one our friends were also performing in distant places.

Sing it loud with hope in your heart.  Every word fits this moment.

We will muddle through somehow.  We will.


  1. We will. We always do. I wish a very Merry Christmas for you, AmA, however strange and distant from what you would normally choose. Find one wonderful thing that you would not otherwise have experienced had life not taken a detour through a rubble-strewn vacant lot. It's there, and it's your challenge and joy to find it.

    1. We will, EvKa. My one wonderful thing that you urge me to find I have already found. And it isn't going to make anyone smile, but it would not have happened without all the garbage that has gone down in 2020. The pandemic laid bare underlying dreadful flaws in our America. Many of us knew they were there and bemoaned them, but it was all too easy not to dwell on them. The systemic racism, the harsh realities of climate change, economic inequality that makes the life of poor workers in the US today harsher than the life a serf in Tsarist Russia. And a President and a Republican leader whose goal seems to be to make all of that worse! I know. This is not holiday talk. But you asked the question. And I have to say:the pandemic has brought all this to the forefront of the national conversation. This is the big favor 2020 did for me. Pandemics from the Black Death onward have taken nascent trends already in place and supercharged them. My hope, inspired by 2020, is that dealing with these issues will take on a force that will drive them toward meaningful change.

      Hope! I hope for lovely times ahead for you, my friend.

  2. It looks super! And all your friends are with you there in spirit! Happy Christmas, Patricia!

    1. Thank you, Michael. Without my friends, I would be consumed with grief and loneliness. But I feel the nearness of my friends, in their voices on the phone, their faces on video calls, their written words--such as yours here. It is wonderful to me that I have such people in my life. Their love and affection reminds me what an incredibly lucky person I am. They grow the love in the heart, and it keeps sadness at bay.

      I wish you Comfort and Joy! And many, many beautiful days in 2021!

  3. Beautiful! Thinking of you amidst all that light and cheer makes me smile, too! And, as you point out, from tomorrow the days get longer, the light lingers just that little bit more in the sky. Merry Christmas!

    1. Thank you, Jamie. Seeing things get brighter and brighter bit by bit is all my heart needs to be happy. Sending warmest wishes for many things HAPPY and BRIGHT in the coming year for you and yours.

  4. What a beautiful display in your home. Nothing like red plants and ornaments and other baubles to cheer up a home. And nothing like friends.
    I hope for next year that this virus is controlled, the vaccines are effective, and that jobs and sufficient financial aid are given to those who need them, as well as food and housing funds. I agree with you that the pandemic has brought so much of the inequities in this society to public view. So has this past four years of divisions and hostility.

    I wish for "Peace on earth and good will (and a cure and financial aid) towards men and women" for 2021. And good health.

  5. YES WE SHALL, SIS! For sure. I just love what you've done with your place. Ours seems trimmed in socks everywhere. Not the kind you hang by a chimney, but wear as you muddle around in a house for nine months. Happy New Year. :)