Although the calendar doesn't change for another few days, I think of the new year beginning at the moment the Earth passes the point at which sunlight begins its long crawl back toward the northern hemisphere. From the winter solstice onward, those who variously like or seriously crave daylight get a little more each day.
The change is imperceptible at first. By the second week of January the change is obvious. As much as short little February seems to stretch eternally, followed by about 40 days of March, the lengthening days of winter hold quite a bit of hope and energy.
This year I had a very sluggish late fall. Every year I want to sit quietly and think during the ultimate slowing of the year, but this year I really crunched to a halt, mentally and physically. All my plans for creative activity by lamp light came to nothing. Based on conversations with people I know, I was not the only one.
One friend of mine, a sort of Episco-Buddhist-Zen-Wiccan, told me she was unbelievably torpid this year. But, she said, on the next day after the winter solstice, she suddenly felt a return of energy. She acknowledges the many reasons she could feel this way. Knowing that the corner has been turned heads the list. But she and I had both experienced the phenomenon with a more rounded bottom curve in most years. I, too, felt unaccountably perky the day after the solstice.
Mind you, it's no miracle cure. It's far from complete. But for the first time in weeks, on December 23 I actually felt like moving my body in a more constructive way than simply dragging it from bed to coffee pot, coffee pot to work, work to home and flopping into bed for an unsatisfying doze ending in joint pain and another crawl toward caffeine. Perhaps soon I will follow the transitory feeling with action.
Big snow is apparently on its way, to open the ski trails and stimulate some needed cash flow into the company coffers. Whether winter will truly build and maintain usable ski conditions remains to be seen. Somehow, no matter what the winter does these days, it's still easier to scrape up a sense of purpose once December is piled by the curb.