This time of year, drawing close to winter solstice, I crave solitude and quiet. Especially on Christmas Eve, I have to find a few moments alone. There’s something about when the woods around me are dormant, when earth seems to be sinking into a deep sleep, turning slower, that makes me need the same. Of course this is such a busy time, it’s hard to find that quiet space. But I need it.
Memorial Day is just another day for me. This time of year, however, is my memorial time. It’s when I remember those who have passed, when I touch decorations that my baby fingers touched, when I smell spices and resin that take me back years. The holidays used to be a time for my large family to gather, but no more. And so this time of year I remember all the old stories.
Melancholy is most commonly defined as sadness or gloom. However, another definition is ‘pensiveness’. That, to me, is more accurate, and how I feel this time of year. Pensive. Tears feel close to the surface. But it’s not because of sadness. It’s closer to mourning what has passed. Whether that’s people, seasons, the year, changes that have happened, the person you used to be. And it’s a form of farewell and endings.
After winter solstice, when the earth begins to turn slowly back toward spring, and we can start seeing the signs of waking up, all of this melancholy will go away. But for now it’s important to slow down with the season, to pause, to dream, to remember.
This pensiveness draws me out into the trees. It’s when I go out in the dark and freeze my butt sitting on a specific granite boulder near a yew tree. There I can sense that deep sleep under my feet, can feel the slow revolution of seasons, and wait for my time of remembering.
One memory in particular is of auntie, an elderly woman who raised my mother. On Christmas Eve, she created magic fire, sprinkling powder over flames and turning them all colors of the rainbow. All kids should have magic fire on Christmas Eve.
So for the next few weeks I shall be remembering and honoring the past.