It was Christmas day many years ago. I was about 5 or 6 years old. The family was gathered at my grandma’s house, just finishing dinner. My brother and I had been awake before dawn, it was now dark out again. The bleak midwinter. It had been a long and exciting day. I was excused from the table, went upstairs, and changed into my flannel nightgown, the one my mother made, new every year for Christmas. I came downstairs, ready for the drive home and bed. It was only about 5 pm, maybe not even. Not time for bed, yet, not time to go home. I was sent to change back into my clothes (we didn’t hang around in our pjs at 5 pm in those days).
In my child mind, it was dark and I was tired, it was time to go home.
With electricity, we no longer have to honor the seasons or the cycles of daylight. We can work all night and sleep during the day. We can stay up all night reading, writing a paper, playing video games. We can do as much in a day in the winter as we do in the summer. We don’t have to stop, we can keep going.
And sometimes we feel like we don’t want to keep going, perhaps just want to rest awhile, maybe until April. And this desire to hibernate might just be a little stronger in the colder climates.
Why not rest a little bit more in winter? Maybe that’s what we’re supposed to do when the days are shorter: snuggle up in our flannels, pack on a few extra pounds for warmth, meditate, get introspective, rest up in preparation for spring. Bears and squirrels do it, why shouldn’t we?
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven ~Ecclesiastes 3 (King James Version)
The way we are living our lives these days, the expectations, doesn’t allow for a lot of slowing down for the winter. And for some, the short days, the natural season for slowing down and reflection, goes a further into a level of depression that isn’t particularly pleasant. And, of course, there’s a disorder for that: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Not intending to minimize the challenge, pain, of depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I don’t know that I would call it a “disorder” but rather the natural order of things. A natural side effect of how we live our lives and what we feed our bodies.
We dishonor this season in our fast-paced world. We fill ourselves with processed foods and sugar now more than any other time of the year. We’ve lost touch with our bodies’ nutritional needs and are low in nutrients. We rush around, working long hours, fighting the crowds at the mall, baking and decorating.
What if we could take the shorter days as a call to slow down just a little bit? Relax, reflect, get to know ourselves, sit by the fire and drink wine. But also make time to go out and play and do what brings us joy. Okay, and that work thing we do. What if we could find more balance in our lives? Bring the depression under control naturally and call our desire for more rest a natural tendency to hibernate.
What if we could honor the season?
For all of my local readers, if you want to learn more about natural ways to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder, I’m talking about Manifesting Joy in Stamford, CT on December 6. Join the conversation. For details, check out the meetup group or go to my website: