Saturday, December 21, 2013

Next Up, Spring!

I like this time of year; winter as a whole (never high on my list of All Time Favorite Seasons) is not so nice, but the days surrounding the hibernal solstice and—not co-incidentally—Christmas always give me a nice, warm boost. I like it because I like twilight, that peaceful, reflective hour, as the world pauses, waiting for nightfall; and at this time of year, it is twilight all the time. Either that, or it’s dark.

When night squeezes the day into a brief period of grey light and long shadows, it feels as if you are always on the cusp of evening. Daytime never really gets the chance to take hold; darkness is always just out of sight, waiting to engulf you. But there is comfort in the dark, and the more bitter, the better.

In fact, the seam separating the year from “coming off of summer” to “heading toward summer” should be as bleak and dreary and cold and snowy as possible. What better way to ensconce oneself in the seasonal siege against the darkness? Nothing is more jolly than gathering with friends around the fire (or, in a pinch, just yourself with a re-run of A Christmas Carol* on the telly) wrapped in a comfy jumper with a steaming mug of mulled cider in your hand (and if it’s the American non-alcoholic variety of cider, make sure you pour a healthy dollop of rum into it) while apocalyptic weather rattles the window panes.

What could be more comforting than a friendly pub with a roaring fire?
This, of course, is the impetus behind the old Pagan winter festivals, and why Christmas was moved here (get over it) and why enough other major religions have festivals at this time of year to make us self-flagellate for inadvertently wishing someone a “Merry Christmas.” It’s simple human nature to want to gather together, light a fire for celebration and warmth, get good and drunk, eat ourselves sick and basically hold up two fingers (or, for you folks in the US, just the middle one will do) to the darkness.

I did a Google search for "warm jumper/sweater" and got this; the jumper
looks warm enough, but I think she's missing the point.

That's more like it!
So “Merry Christmas” everyone—or, if you don’t subscribe to the religious or capitalist motivations behind that particular holiday, Happy Solstice—may your mead cups overflow, your Yule logs burn brightly and your cakes, meats and treats leave you feeling as stuffed as a Burns Night haggis.

As for myself, it is currently just after noon as I write this, but it is murky and drizzly outside with a wind brisk enough to make up for the fact that we don’t have any actual snow or ice to complain about. It’s perfect weather for a trek to the pub, where the fire will be blazing and the festive lights twinkling.

And, if I’m particularly fortunate, they might have mulled cider on offer.

* The real one, with Alastair Sim as Scrooge, and make sure it’s in glorious Black and White, not that colorized bastardization. 
Bah! Humbug!


  1. I have a feeling that you are far far far from being a bah humbug Michael! Happy Christmas to you and yours and I hope that the mulled cider goes down a treat!

    1. No Humbug here. Have a good one!

  2. Oooh, that fire looks lovely. Happy Xmas to you and the Mrs.

  3. I hope 2014 proves to be a good year for you and yours!