The Longest Night

Today is the Winter Solstice, the Longest Night.

My Winter Solstice Tree is white, decorated with silver. The ornaments symbolize stars, moons, and snowflakes. After the shortest day of the year, every day will start having more and more light until the longest day on the summer solstice. Some see this day as the rebirth of the sun.

I think a lot about religion, mostly how what I believe doesn’t fit into one, but borrows from many. From my experience teaching Catholic school, I learned the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus, the son of God, is born. Peace and light will return throughout the land, just as the light returns in increasingly longer days.

Somewhere in these holy traditions, Santa and commercialism crept in, making it all about manipulating behaviour for material gain. I work with children but I’m not a parent. I always said I would never lie to my child with all the Santa crap, because I confess that I do not like Santa, his slave elves in the North, his acceptable breach of privacy and home invasion. I have to go along with it at school, because I would get fired if I presented the truth. So there I am, saying Merry Christmas! with the white trimmed red hat, asking if they wrote their letters to Santa, pretending that a senior overweight man will actually come down their chimney with hatchimals and nerf guns and video games even when no one has real chimneys anymore. I hate it. This elf on the shelf trend that has popped up is also not my style. Be good, or else Santa’s not bringing you toys.

I was teaching Early Learning and read a book about “What I Love Most About Christmas” which bent heavily to the answers of spending time with family, indulgence, and upholding traditions; some pretty solid reasons to love the Winter Holiday Season without any mention of Jesus or Santa. Then in the discussion that followed, I said I like that the days start to become longer. Going around the circle, the children answered all the same, they love the presents. I have to admit I like free stuff too, and watching someone’s reaction when they open a gift you know they really want.

It’s Midwinter, a time for reflection. I can’t wait for two weeks off to focus on creative projects and sleeping in. That’s my actual favourite part of Christmas.

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