December 21st. Roll that date over in your mind, or even say it out loud.
It’s the Winter solstice. The shortest day of the year insofar as daylight is concerned.
But you already knew that, didn’t you?
From here until the Summer solstice on June 21st, daylight grows longer, our days grow longer.
But for now, at this apex of darkness when many of us celebrate Christmas, the Light coming into the world and also the end of one year and the beginning of the new, we kick back. We set our workday cares aside for a time to enjoy friends and family. We give and receive good cheer.
But before we celebrate Christmas, there is the longest, darkest day of the year.
Here is how I get through it: I read Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost.
I have read it on December 21st for as long as I can remember. It calms me. It centers me. It prepares me for Christmas.
For those of us who work in nonprofit fundraising, 2017 will be a momentous and tumultuous year. I’ll help see to that!
But for now, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, © 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., renewed 1951, by Robert Frost. Reprinted with the permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC.
Source: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays (Library of America, 1995)
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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