Solstice, solemn solstice

The sky has closed in around us today. It is warm, but the world feels wrung out and weary as the decade draws to a close. I am aware of an abiding sense of  quiet sorrow, Weltschmerz. This time of year is always difficult. Christmas has become a melancholic, meditative season for me. It has been this way since my parents passed away more than three years ago. I have learned to embrace a degree of aloneness as a time to recalibrate. But this year the “Joy to the World” spirit my religious upbringing taught me to embrace seems especially anachronistic. It seems there is so much hatred coursing through veins of this tired planet.

On a personal level, the passage from last December to this one has been marked by a little more mental instability than I’ve experienced in recent years. Twice I needed medication adjustments while in therapy I began to make some progress opening up channels into exploring grief and trauma. But progress is slow and subject to diversions and setbacks.

In an effort to cope with a variety of stresses at home I sought to escape. Run away, perhaps. To India. Twice. And now I’m back at home anxiously watching political unrest threaten to explode there; worried about my friends and a country I have grown to care about, and worried about the way hatred has been allowed to grow and spread so freely through democratic nations across the globe. Even my own country, still modest compared to its loud neighbour to the south, is not immune. Ignorance of history, distrust of science, and intolerance of difference are fueling fires that won’t be easily extinguished.

Tonight as I decorated my Christmas tree with the many angels my mother collected for as long as I can remember, I tried to call on her presence and only ended up missing her more. Were she here she would be as worried as I am. No, I’m afraid she would despair even more despite the fact she was a believer in a way I have never been able to be.

So, as winter settles in here in the northern hemisphere, all I can do—what I must do—is to try to hold to some faith (even if I am uncertain where it is rooted) that the lengthening days will hold a little promise that things will get better going forward. For all of us. Everywhere.

Author: roughghosts

Literary blog of Joseph Schreiber. Writer. Reader. Editor. Photographer.

8 thoughts on “Solstice, solemn solstice”

  1. Christmas can be a tough time, more so if the marketing message of all those ‘happy families’ celebrating together gets to you. But of course it’s not like that for everyone, I’ve known two women who decided that they would not do Christmas because their marriages had failed, neither of them noticing that their small children were desolate about it. Two of those little children are parents themselves now, and I sometimes wonder how they deal with the memories of that year.
    So I am pleased to hear that you have chosen not to give in to melancholy, and have decorated your tree. I would love to see a photo of your mother’s angels, and perhaps the story of how she came to collect them.

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    1. To be honest, the melancholic and meditative time is something I am coming to cherish. Christmas has always had some quiet, alone time ever since my divorce. The mood of this post reflects the weather and the situation in India, whereas the delayed tree decorating is due to the fact that the external renovations on my building that should have been done in November was not finished until early this past week. The interior repairs to the cracked and damaged walls should be entirely finished tomorrow but I decided to go ahead and put the tree up anyway.

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  2. I hope Christmas passes as easily as it can for you, Joe. I know what you mean by the state of the world. We’re beset by political disappointment in this house, about to lose our official European identity, something I had so hoped we’d avoid. Ah well, there’s always books, art, nature and, I hope for you too, good friends.

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  3. This *can* be such a difficult time of year. My OH hates the dark mornings and evenings, and always experiences a change of mood once the Solstice has passed and as he puts it, “the nights are drawing out”. I am simply trying to avoid the horrors of the world – where is all this hate coming from??? – and doing what I can on a local level to do nice things for people. It may not make much of a difference but I feel fairly powerless at the moment. I do feel for the people in India, and I hope your friends are ok (I’m fretting about friends in Australia right now, too). Anyway, I hope you have a peaceful season and let’s hope for a better world in 2020. x

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    1. Thanks, Karen. The hardest part about the hate we see (and I face it close to home in provincial politics, not to mention the UK atmosphere you live with) is not to respond with anger or, in other words, put more negative energy into the world. That’s my goal, but it’s not easy.

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  4. Everywhere you look at this time of the year there are images of the ‘perfect’ family Christmas we’re all supposed to enjoy. It just gets rammed down our throats with barely an acknowledgement that for some people this isn’t the most wonderful time of the year. Though it’s always a melancholic time for you, you’ve found strategies to cope with it over the years. But as you say it’s doubly hard this year when so much of the world seems in a very very dark place. I hate what is happening in America right now as a result of a political agenda driven by bigotry and the stand off in Hong Kong will end I fear badly, given the Chinese government’s determination not to give way

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