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Post-Holiday Reflections - A New Empty Nester's Perspective

            As the fading light of a winter afternoon filters into my home office, our little place seems quieter than ever – even with the rattling in the heaters, running overtime.  It’s more than the usual quiet that settles in after the hectic holiday period.  Visitors have retired to their own post-holiday quietude, pine needles have been dutifully vacuumed and presents are put away – the material ones, anyway. 

            The spiritual presents linger on – filling the air with an essence stronger than pine scent and echoing through the quietness of the room as the fading refrains of holiday laughter.  The lingering heart-warmth of family and friends brings more comfort than the mingling of solar and electric heat wafting through the house. 

            Another year of holiday memories casts its almost-sedimentary essence with the winter sunlight across the walls of the place. I love the quality of light in winter.  How many years have I looked out over this hill through sliding glass doors into the bare-boned trees – at first looking through the pint-sized smudges of tiny hands, but of late, noticing scuff-marks made by boxes of daughters moving out?  The changes in our lives never seem so apparent as the time after the holidays.

            Nature pulls her living essence into the dark warmth of the Earth as the sun moves low in its arc across the sky.  The light brings more contrast to everything.  Shadows are darker, but the light – where it shines – is brighter.  Winter paints the colors of our lives in stark contrast.  It is then that we must turn away from the outer cold and harvest the inner fruits of the spirit, signified outwardly by the holiday period.  I remind myself of this.  At no other time of the year do we become so aware of the changing seasons of our lives.  It’s almost as though the outer life retreats from us and the light shines low into every nook and cranny – reminding us of what we have and what we have lost.

            It is then that I remind myself that the pain of loss only comes from what I will not let go.  Hiding in the shadows of the past can only bring chill to the spirit, while peace comes with remembering it’s the light in our lives that brings both the brightness and shadows. Light that figures so prominently in the holidays becomes our bridge over the darkness of winter and across the changes of our lives.

Granville Angell

© 2004 by Granville Angell

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