The Light in the Darkness

It’s dark out there, so keep spreading the light.  As we head towards the Winter Solstice next week, the shortest day of the year, I’m remembering cold winter mornings as a kid growing up in Montréal.

In winter I get up at night, and dress by yellow candle-light.”
My Mother would recite this poem each morning, waking us up for school. (“Bed in Summer” from A Child’s Garden of Verses by the Scottish poet and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson). To this day I can recite the three stanzas by heart (and so can Mom, age 91).

Those Dark Mornings
were no fun, but the reward of leaving our cozy beds was warm clothing, which my Mother had spread out to toast in front of the open oven door. I know it sounds like something out of Dickens, but we really did get dressed in the kitchen in front of the stove, the joys of poetry and warm underwear intermingled.

The Holiday Tradition
in my home has always been to light the Chanukah candles while singing the ancient Hebrew blessings, melodies that still get me choked up every time. But the search for light also created another tradition. Montréal is a grand Catholic city, and it dazzles and bedecks itself with radiance at Christmas time. Bundled up in our pajamas under our snowsuits, my brother and sister and I climbed into my Father’s big old white Buick for our annual night-time tour to oooh and ahhhh at the lighting displays around the city. What splashy defiance of the dark night!

This has been a difficult year to keep carrying the flame for many of us, but as we round the corner towards the sunshine ahead, I wish you and your families warmth, hot cocoa, and a little poetry along the way. And I truly believe that your words will be a source of light for others, a gift of personal connection as you present and enlighten and clarify and inspire.

Joy to you and yours!