The Shortest Day — The Longest Night

Stonehenge at Winter Solstice, shortest day of the year, first day of winterToday is the first day of winter, the shortest day of the year, and precursor to the longest night. This was the time when primitive people “called back the sun” by lighting solstice fires on the hillsides.

This is when people with Seasonal Affective Disorder fight depression and folks try to outdo their neighbors by putting up more Christmas lights. It’s a time of opposites and contradictions: joy and sadness, caution and optimism, fear and hope.

I am tempted to break my “No Politics” rule because these diametric opposites today affect our political situation most severely. To write about that, however, I would have to go to a very dark place and I am loath to do that four days before Christmas.

Finding Joy Despite the Shortest Day

Instead, I would rather look for joy wherever I can find it. When I meditate, I begin by listing some of the things for which I am grateful. Here are a few. I am thankful for:

  • My good health, strength, and fitness.
  • My family, who are all alive and in good health.
  • Having a roof over my head, enough money to buy food and medication, to keep the lights on and the heat up.
  • All the communities and friends in my life: Boston By Foot volunteers, fellow writers in the Spacecrafts Writers’ Group, the regulars at the Longfellow Clubs’ water aerobics classes, members of the choir and the Board of Trustees at the First Parish of Sudbury and all the people who belong to the parish, former colleagues from high-tech companies who have remained friends.
  • The safety of our New England, which suffered no flooding, drought, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes or blizzards (so far) in 2017.
  • Wicked Reports, a marketing client for nine months. Thanks to them, we took the Viking Grand European cruise in June and I built an office in the loft.

I also greatly appreciate the people who read this blog—all of you. Every day I thank you for the time you spend reading my ideas and stories and, I hope, forwarding them to others.

Grateful for Angel Time

Choir of angels, angel time, shortest daySurely, I have missed a lot that did not come immediately to mind. I am grateful for every day that I am upright, ambulatory and above ground.

I appreciate every opportunity that comes my way to be kind and helpful to others, to change their lives for the better even if only for a few moments, and to bring a ray of sunshine into their day. These opportunities are a privilege, a chance to act as one of God’s angels on earth.

For today, at least, I will ignore the Grinch lurking in the political corner and look for the light wherever I can find it. Sunset will come all too soon but tomorrow the days get longer, bit by bit. Counting the days, we have:

  • Fenway Park, Home Opening game, Red Sox, Major League Baseball

    Fenway Park Opening Day 2017

    4 days until Christmas

  • 11 days until 2018
  • 45 days until the Super Bowl
  • 54 days until pitchers and catchers report
  • 89 days until spring
  • 105 until the Red Sox home opener at Fenway Park
  • 116 days until the Boston Marathon
  • 182 days until summer.

Somewhere, although I can’t count them yet, are the days until I give my first Boston By Foot tour of 2018 and our next vacation. There will be birthdays, especially for our granddaughters, and other celebrations. Today may be the shortest day but I have much to appreciate and more to look forward to.

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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

4 thoughts on “The Shortest Day — The Longest Night

      • Mine’s already done, though we will eat Chinese for dinner tonight. 😉

        The girl loved-loved-loved her Star of David earrings. The boy likes his Star of David necklace though it’s pretty pointy – throwing star pointy. Need to take them to work to buff those points down a little.

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