Sunday, December 21, 2008

The shortest day

Today is the winter solstice. The first day of winter. The shortest day, but the longest night. It’s my favorite holiday because, among other things, it’s the day beyond which you know things cannot get worse—at least in terms of daylight. Starting tomorrow, the days will become longer. It will be slow at first—tomorrow’s daylight will increase by just 3 seconds—but by the end of January, we’ll have 10 whole hours of light each day, and the sun won’t set until 5:05pm. All that’s left to do is just hang on.

The first day of winter did not disappoint this year. The windchill hovered around 25 below zero all day, and I think the actual temperature made it all the way up to 2 degrees at some point today. As if the extreme cold and 30+ mph winds weren’t bad enough, the entire world is covered in a sheet of ice. Seriously people, I can handle snow and cold to a certain extent, but ice is completely unacceptable in my opinion. And even though today is just the first day of winter, it feels like the city has already thrown its arms up in disgust and given up on even attempting to plow or salt the streets.

Last night was our neighborhood holiday party. It was only a block away, which was good, because I practically made Rob carry me over there. I am terrible on the ice. In the past couple of weeks, two elderly people have passed me when I’ve been out trying to walk on this stuff. I am considering making my own snow shoes by drilling screws into all my shoes. Unfortunately, I don’t think we have the right kind of screws for that, and it’s too damn icy to go to the hardware store.

In true west-Urbana style, last night's party was a real, old-fashioned, neighborhood holiday sing along. It was the kind of thing that belonged in a black-and-white film. Everybody was all dolled up and had brought along homemade Christmas cookies. There was hot mulled cider brewing on the stove. We actually all stood around the piano and sang Christmas carols. I am not kidding. When it came time to sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” each guest was assigned a different “day” (I was “nine ladies dancing”). When we sang “We Three Kings,” three of the male guests sang the magi’s verses as solos. Before he realized what he was getting into, Rob was somehow volunteered to sing the part of Melchior. He did so well that he will probably be asked to sing this part again next year. It was fun, it was folksy, and—despite the fact that over 90% of the party guests still have Obama signs in their yard—it was real America.

I’m hoping that when I wake up tomorrow morning, it will be warm out and my knee won’t hurt anymore so that I can go running. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

Thanks for reading!


Anonymous said...

You just gave me an idea for a Christmas gift, thank ya!

Anonymous said...

You put into words, everything I've been feeling about WINTER thus far!!!!! this MUST be the LOOOOOOONG WINTER,my dear!!!! sigh. I am HOPING we have a VERY EARLY JANUARY THAW, and ALONG with the' EXTRA" added DAYLIGHT, we can MAKE it till the WARM days appear again!!!! Loved hearing about your FOLKSY neighborhood gathering....... TOO BAD IT CAN'T BE THAT WAY ALL YEAR!!! good friends, good times, and , of course, the SINGING. Tell RB, he can ENTERTAIN us with his singing, while you're here!!! Stay UPRIGHT, and TAKE care of that KNEE< remember what happened to robby's........... Be careful driving NORTH,,,,, can't wait!!! PS. loved your christmas card!!! you are SOOOO CLEVER!!! luv you , foxy mama

Anonymous said...

Great Christmas Card!!! It came skidding into our mailbox today! How fun!! The sunshine on the ice was a perfect winter painting today -- but since i don't paint, would prefer much warmer artistic scenes. Happy to hear about your 'old fashioned' neighborhood Christmas party ... there should be lots more of those kind of get-togethers!! See you soon!
hugs, auntie

amypfan said...

What a fun party! I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to sing in front of other people, but it sounds like you guys had a good time. :)