The phrase “tucking in” has dogged me since the solstice. Literally it could mean putting a little one to bed or digging into a delicious meal. The dark days of winter are haunting and often daunting. I resist, I resist, and then I submit.
One year I spent Christmas out of town. It was bitterly cold, snowing and very late on Christmas eve when we arrived. There had been almost no other cars on the highway. A silent night indeed. I was feeling tired and sad. As we pulled up to the house, a row of candles glowing in ice led the way to our cabin in the woods.
I am learning to embrace these festivals of light and to divorce them from should and must and other familial residue. I need the smell of balsam and the taste of clove, the sounds of choral music. I need firelight and shiny things and dress up and nonsense and mummering, not so much for their nostalgia but more as a communal and cyclic sextant. These ancient cultural traditions are human traditions, with variations across the globe that are more alike than not (gather, light candles, sing, eat), powerful enough to stop time, money and war if only for a day.
And then I need some time for tucking in. I will, in a manner of speaking, sleep, and dream. I will tuck in to keep the cold at bay. I will tuck in with the monsters that still hide under my bed and even dare to tell their stories. I can do that because the first snow has come. I will tuck in to the feast of unconscious thought and feeling and travel to my personal underworld to reclaim its deepest truth and meaning.
A friend writes, “How much can you stand yourself deep down inside? The courage to create is fundamentally the courage to be alone.”
This time, til birds nest anew and green shoots poke their heads out of barely unfrozen soil, is for me the most creative. The new year begins now, in the earnest darkness.