Tonight is the longest night of the year, also known as the winter solstice. Before the day’s tasks caught up to me on this shortest day of the year — the longest night does come with the shortest day, you know — I made a list of 10 ways to celebrate the solstice. I don’t feel like posting them now as it’s a bit late to schedule a marshmallow roast among friends to help weather the longest, darkest, coldest night. Well, maybe it’s not the coldest, but it’s close.
But while we celebrate the new year on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, I think of the winter solstice as the real New Year’s Eve. After tonight, the sun starts coming back to us, the days start getting warm again, and we start moving toward summer again. Summer is my favorite time of year. It’s when I feel most at home in my own skin — sweating, getting dirty, and playing hard the way I was born to do. Summer reminds me of home, mud, first love, long days of swimming and crawfish, and all the best things in life. In fact, most of what I remember about childhood is summer. I guess that’s part of the territory when you’re from the Deep South.
My first winter was awfully rough. I moved to Maryland in April 2006, and that winter I felt very much alone, even though I lived in a crowded apartment. I was a stranger in a strange place, for sure. But over the past few years, I’ve learned how to cope with winter, I’ve made some friends who keep me warm at heart, and I’ve learned to dress properly for snow. I’m shocked to say now that I’ve actually enjoyed the cold weather so far this year. I know there’s plenty cold left to face, since December 21 is technically the first day of winter, but knowing that the sun’s coming back gives me hope. As the days get longer, we’ll be able to stay out longer, get more exercise, see more, do more, and before you know it, we’ll be sweating in the sun once again.
Now when I think of summer, I remember home, but I also remember my first summer here. I remember going to Gunpowder Falls with my new friends and running half naked through the woods. I remember people coming to visit us and how happy I was to share my new home with them. There is so much more to look forward to this year. This is my new year, and I am beyond ready to ring it in.
Welcome! Come on in, get cozy by the fire. Get naked if you like. Here’s a drink. Lets have fun. You are amazing and beautiful and full of potential. I can’t wait to see what kindof magical thing you will become.