Coming into the Light

In a little more than an hour, winter officially arrives.  After a delightful early fall, harsh weather roared through in November, and we’ve been battling brutal cold and consistent snow ever since.  Hard to believe we are still waiting for the coldest season to begin.

A while back I read about one family’s winter solstice tradition of using no electricity for the darkest day of the year. I loved the thought: embrace the darkness while holding hope for the return of the light. But, the kids are little and it would be a battle to enforce the “no lights!” rule in our house (plus, they still worry about monsters in the dark).  So, I modified the plan: no TV, iPad or screens of any sort for the entire day.  If we couldn’t fully embrace the darkness, we would at least revel in some peace and simplicity.

Our intentionally quiet day started extra early when Mack toddled into our room.  He climbed into our bed and swiftly fell back asleep, but I was up.  I tiptoed downstairs, brewed a pot of chamomile tea, and quietly read a book amid the soft glow of our Christmas tree.  Evie joined me soon enough, followed by wee Vivian.  Us girls sipped tea and read books and whispered while the boys dozed.

Once Mack woke up and breakfast was finished, I turned on the folksy “Elizabeth Mitchell Holiday” music channel on Pandora while we prepared a batch of simple Christmas cookies.  Mack knows the recipe by heart, and he required little assistance from me.  Vivian was his eager sous chef, which meant she snacked on whatever morsels he tossed her way.

The rest of the day passed peacefully.  The kids played with some new toys. Evie went to a basketball game at her school with her good friend.  We took the kids to Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo in the freezing rain and pitch black darkness.  We embraced life despite the earliest onset of nighttime all year.

When we returned home we settled into the usual nighttime routine.  Bath, jammies, dinner.  Just as dinner was about ready, something startling happened: the electricity went out. No lights, no sounds, no power.  The kids panicked at first – there were some tears and some fears.  But, we lit a few candles and sat together in the darkness. Their concerns quickly faded as we all drew together telling stories and sharing memories.  We ate by candlelight.

We wrote in our family’s gratitude journal about what we were thankful for today.  Evie said she was grateful for no electricity because she gets “to see what it was like in the old times.”  And, I too was grateful for the loss of electricity because it gave my family the respite I know we all so desperately wanted. Sometimes, I swear, the universe knows just what I need right when I need it.

Tomorrow might be the first official day of winter, but it is also a return to light. The days will slowly get longer, the temperatures will eventually warm up, and our spirits will soar knowing that brighter days are upon us.

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4 Comments for this entry

  1. Janice Cook says:

    Beautiful story Maureen, thank you so much for sharing not only this story but a much broader understanding of the world to your beautiful children….well done! Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  2. jade says:


  3. Julee says:

    What a wonderful experience you share here! So true about the presence of the universe, or angels, or God, one big step ahead of us!

  4. julie says:

    very well written, beautiful story and memories you have.

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