It matters very little here, the returning of the sun. Our shortest days in the winter are still “long enough,” a luxurious ten hours or so of daylight.
Most of the year, in fact, my biggest worry is how to avoid the sun, which beats down with a blistering intensity. I welcome the shorter days and their corresponding drop in the UV index.
I never understood people who celebrated the solstice, growing up at a similar latitude. The years we lived much further north, though, found me counting down the days at an almost instinctive level. “Soon it won’t be getting darker, it will be getting lighter,” we would tell each other, looking out at the cold darkness.
No wonder people celebrated. There is a blessed relief in knowing that something is as bad as it will get. That, too, I suspect was beyond my childish understanding.
We adopted the solstice as our own holiday then, not because we’re pagans of any stripe, but because it seemed worth celebrating. It was also conveniently personal, arriving as it did before the big rush of family Christmas.
Living here, my most relevant reminder of the changing light is the dog, who looks eagerly forward to the time when the sun will hit his favorite corner for sunbathing. I don’t usually ascribe a metaphysical wisdom to a creature who routinely traps himself in the pantry, but there’s a lesson there.
Even here, the light changes, and time passes, and the world turns. Even here those things are worth marking.