Let the Light Shine

-An Essay for the first day of winter by: Susan Olcott

Here is an excerpt from a blog I wrote five winters ago entitled, “Winter is Hard, Heavy and Slow.”

“In winter, the lightness of being is literally taken away, as you realize when you try to move in all of this gear and feel a bit like you’ve donned one of those Sumo wrestler suits you can put on at a carnival. The spontaneity of things goes away, as you can’t pop in and out of doors with the fluidity of warmer seasons’ constant temperature. There is no grabbing a pair of flip-flops in winter and heading out the door. The physical heft of winter can make you feel the heaviness of daily life in ways that summer frees you from, allowing you to shake off things easily.  Add to that the long, dark afternoons when your Vitamin D levels are critically low and you feel shortchanged by the day length.”

Five years have since passed and I now am the Mother of twin girls who will turn four this January.  While winter is still certainly hard, heavy and slow (often even more so now with juggling boots, snowsuits, mismatched mittens and clumpy socks), my girls have literally shined their light into the dark afternoons.

For most of the year, they are asleep when it is dark, but in winter it is a special treat to go out for walks in the quiet darkness.  We bundle up and bring glow sticks or flashlights.  This time of year, we look at Christmas lights, but other times we search for the moon and the night’s first stars.  These “moon walks” have become a winter tradition for us and have made me look forward to the darkness rather than dread it.  They see such beauty at night, posing poetic questions about the sky like, “I could stick my finger out and poke a hole in the sky to make a star” and, “I think the moon is sleeping under a blanket of clouds.”  How could I not be eager to welcome winter’s darkness with them when these experiences are so rich?  We have recorded these experiences and images through poetry and stories.  Here is an example of a simple book we wrote together about the sky and about our moonwalks.(copy) A new book  If you are interested in this activity, you can download a free app called Book Creator and make books like these with your kids. But, most importantly, get outside on these long, dark afternoons with your children and make it an adventure.  It will bring lightness into your winter.

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The author’s daughters playing on the ice on one of their many winter moon walks.