So much for an extended Christmas

Paula Tessier
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It is my worse kept secret: my disdain for the winter season. A couple of weeks ago, we experienced one of my favourite days of the year, though, and I’m not talking Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve.

No, my friends, one of my favourite days of the year is the day marking winter solstice — more specifically, Dec. 21 of this past year (and every year).

Why, you ask, would I love a day that leads directly into the season I most dread? Simple. After that date, we start experiencing, ever so subtly, longer daylight hours — and I couldn’t be happier!

Well, on the day when the clocks spring ahead, I am more than just a fraction happier, but thinking about that in December turns one into a Grinch.

This year’s shortest day snuck upon us, so when it reality hit, it was like an early Christmas present. But let’s face it, there’s a whole lot of winter left, so I was left wondering, “What could we do to help us get through it?”

Then it struck me. We should all leave our exterior Christmas lights up and on until the last flake melts. They look so pretty, and you can’t help but feel a little bit more positive when you see them. All those bright twinkling colours, reflecting through the snow (or under the snow, as is the case with our love branch lights in front of the house … sigh).

But you get my drift, so to speak. Then and there I decided I’d throw the suggestion out on my first column of the new year. Perhaps the winter might be more tolerable for those of us who dream of palm trees and umbrella drinks.

Then the weekend happened. In the words of the great Alanis Morrisette, “Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?” Not only could we not turn on our lovely lights, we would have had trouble seeing them from what must have been at least 10 feet of snow that fell. And if that 10 feet of snow still didn’t bury every last bulb, the blistering cold made it dangerous to open your eyes all the way to see for fear of your eyeballs freezing in their sockets.

What a way to start the new year. Many in the dark for extended periods of time, many discovering exactly how many sweaters you can drag on top of each other before rendering yourself unable to eat because your thickly padded arms could no longer bend at the elbow to feed yourself.

I think we’ve adapted new useful traits now, though. How fast can you cook a pot of chili? Well, in rolling power outages, pretty darned fast. Boiling the kettle became a huge priority. And if someone turned on an unnecessary light once power was restored (for the billionth time), they were scolded in ways that must have brought back their childhood days of writing on walls with permanent markers.

Of course, many lessons will be learned by us all after situations like this. Perhaps one of the best for us is knowing that you will most certainly live if you dial the thermostat down a bit. It’s completely acceptable to eat the exact same thing for supper that you had for lunch and feel quite grateful that you have it … two days in a row (it was a big pot of chili!).

And most importantly, when someone is in need, you step up. Because we were fortunate to have power more than we didn’t, total strangers were invited to our house for heat and food, and yes, they were offered the chili.

Keep your sweaters handy, take your Christmas lights down, and always, please always, be kind to each other. There’s lots of winter left yet, but together we’ll get through it. We always do.

Email Paula Tessier at

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