The busyness of the first part of December always distracts most of my attention from the shortening days, but then one day I wake up in the dark, and it's already dark again before 5. While I enjoy the beauty of the holiday lights in the evenings, at the same time I pout because I can't manage to be about during daylight hours. I miss the sun.
Then, just a few days before Christmas, the world turns. Light returns. The deep of winter's cold is still ahead, but my heart is cheered when, each day, the morning comes a bit sooner and the evening lingers a few minutes longer.
With the holiday itself, I have a love/hate relationship going.
I love the carols, and the memories they invoke of some of the best Christmases ever: Of riding home after Christmas Eve mass, the car cold, but warm in my jacket. The six of us crowded in the back seat of the car (the two youngest in the front with mom and dad), jumping with anticipation, eager for the gift opening which followed our arrival home. We'd sing carols during the short drive home - as I got older, we sang in three part harmony.
These days, I love it when my family gathers from our scattered homes. But I mourn those who are missing from the gathering. Some of the faces that made up my childhood memories are missing.
Thus this year, as I have for all of my adult years, I greeted Christmas with both a smile on my face and tears in my eyes; the joy in my heart competing with sadness.
May the season's promise of Peace come soon and very soon - to my heart, to yours, and to this battered world of ours.
Merry Christmas to all.