This time of year is magical. I love the holiday decorations, the lights, and the crispness in the air. Even though I don’t live in a part of the country where I can enjoy the snow, I like to pretend I’m having a white Christmas.
As the Winter Solstice of 2017 rolls around, I dig out my jewelry collection of reindeer and Santa earrings and boxes of decorations. Each ornament holds a special memory — the pearl-encrusted heart my daughter chose for our tree many years ago. The tiny porcelain head of Jerry Garcia – yes, someone, have no idea who, hung it on our Christmas tree a long time ago. It’s such a hoot I keep it. Styrofoam balls covered in ribbon and sequins that my aunt, gone many years now, made for every church fair. But my favorite ornaments are the ones my children made in school. A felt triangular Christmas tree stitched together with yarn and sequins, a wreath of white fuzzy yarn with red balls, a paper stocking, in need of repair, but I still treasure it.
There’s a reason so many religious holidays occur around the time of the solstice — Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, Ramadan, Yule, Saturnalia, Bodhi Day. It’s that special time when our planet tilts away from the life-giving sun. As if the earth itself pauses in its rotation at that very moment.
This year the solstice occurs today, December 21st at 8:38 a.m. Pacific Standard time. That’s the moment we creatures of the earth experience the longest night and shortest day. And if you’re interested in some of the practices and ancient monuments built to celebrate the winter solstice, you can read more here.
The first book in the Zodiac Mysteries, The Madness of Mercury, takes place during the holiday season. Julia, my San Francisco astrologer, knows all the fun and free things to do in her city. So if you just happen to be in San Francisco this month, don’t miss the Christmas lights, or the tree lighting in Union Square, or the lighted boats at Fisherman’s Wharf.