Welcome. The winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere will occur next week, on Dec. 21. Here in New York, there will be just nine hours and 15 minutes of daylight on Tuesday, after which the days will begin to lengthen.
Of course, the solstice is also the first day of winter, so even as the days grow longer, they tend to grow colder, too. I keep a close eye on sunrise and sunset after the solstice, greedy for those extra minutes of light, which, regardless of the temperature outside, promise that spring is on its way. My mother prefers the darker, shorter days, when it feels like bedtime at 5 p.m. She feels less pressure to be out and about and doing things.
I understand this perspective, but the limited daylight, for me, sometimes means I don’t make it outside while the sun is up. It contributes to that feeling that days and months are slipping by on a frictionless surface: I want to grab on to days and fill them, but I can’t find a grip.
I recently watched a YouTube video of Robin Pecknold, of the band Fleet Foxes, performing “A Very Lonely Solstice” — a show that was streamed live last December, from St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn. Pecknold is good company for those of us who struggle with winter, who sometimes find ourselves white-knuckled inside our mittens, holding on for summer. It’s mostly him strumming his guitar and singing quiet, wintry tunes by electric candlelight. “One warm day’s all I really need,” he sings at the end of “Featherweight.” He’s not the only one.
We’re still accepting submissions for your Best of 2021. Books, articles, movies, shows, recipes, ideas, routines, advice, you name it. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your full name and location, if you please. We’re At Home and Away. We’ll read every letter sent. And of course, you’ll find more ideas for passing the time pleasurably — wherever you find yourself — below. I’ll be back on Friday.