I have the post-Christmas blahs.
I’m not talking the ‘sit in the corner and cry‘ type of depression or the ‘stay in bed with the covers over your head’ kind – I just have the lethargy that comes when it is cold and wet and dreary and the excitement of getting ready for the big day is over, and I know that now I have to put all these decorations up and start straightening the house and thinking about eating better and getting up early to go back to work in another week. Adam and his dog Molly left yesterday, so no happy jingle of Molly’s collar greeted me as she bounded out of the bedroom, and even though I am going to see Adam on Tuesday, after that it will be weeks until I see him again and I miss him already. Everything is sopping wet and gray outside and I know this will be our weather off and on for at least the next two months. I’m just in a funk.
Surprisingly, I found a light at the end of the tunnel through science – more specifically, in a time and date chart showing the sunrise and sunsets for the upcoming months. It started in our current Sunday School class book, Not a Silent Night, by Adam Hamilton. This small book looks at the Christmas story through Mary’s eyes and has many thought provoking ideas. Hamilton reminds us that Jesus came to this world to bring light –
“In Him was life and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overome it” (John 1:4-5)
The early Christians put so much weight on this idea of Christ coming to bring light to the world that they probably set December 25th as His birthday to coincide with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Hamilton says that this is “literally the night when darkness is defeated.” (page 121)
After the solstice the days begin to get longer. I usually think of Christmas as starting the winter, and even though we do get the majority of our bad weather in January – March, the short days are actually getting longer from here on out. Looking at the chart is fascinating – our solstice here in Georgia was December 21st, when we had 9 hours, 52 minutes and 58 seconds of daylight. On December 22, that daylight increased by one second – but it increased! And if you look at the chart, you can see that each day keeps getting a few seconds more of daylight as our earth goes through its rotation around the sun, so imperceptibly that we don’t even notice until about March or April when we say – Hey, the days are longer.
So Christmas comes at our darkest time.
In 2002, my father passed away a few days before Christmas. Less than two months later, in February, my mother in law Robbie, died suddenly. It was a bleak time for me. I felt a certain measure of guilt over Robbie’s death because she thought she had a stomach virus and insisted she didn’t need to go to the doctor, so I didn’t take her and then she had an aneurysm and died. I kept thinking at that time that I just wanted to get through to the spring – I felt I could make it if I could see the flowers and feel the warm sun. The spring did come that year, as it does each year, and the hard time passed.
My funk will be improved with some sunshine, but I know people right now who are going to have a long, dark winter. They have been through life changing losses and some are struggling with aging parents, problems with their children and health issues. But as Paul says – “We do not lose heart! Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2Corinthians 4:16) Just as the sunlight is getting slightly more each day, we are getting closer to the true light each day even if we are not aware of it. By praying, reading and persevering in our desire to know God, we are being renewed and changed. And that gives me hope.