Solstice. Sun-return. The point when the days start turning longer again. The moment when, no matter how dark and cold it still is, we can begin to believe in the spring. I have always believed that it is no coincidence that so many cultures around the world have holidays around this time of year. We are all suffer together the gloom that comes from short days and long nights. We all have dark times in our lives, and we all need to believe that the wheel will turn and that those dark times will come to an end.
This longing for rebirth and renewal, this need to believe in second chances, is one of the reasons that the human race needs stories. From Frodo apparently dead in Shelob’s lair only to be discovered alive by orcs and rescued from Sam to that moment in Return of the Jedi when Luke gives in briefly to the dark side only to pull back when he realizes how like his father he has become. In my novel Ravensblood, we start in that dark place, with Raven rediscovering his conscience and deciding that he can no longer live with the things he must do as a dark mage in service to William. The rest of the novel is the long, difficult return to the light.
Just as we appreciate the lengthening of days more for the darkness that precedes it, the protagonist’s victory is sweeter for the times before when it seemed that all was lost. And in your own life, remember that the longest night is also the night when the wheel begins its turn back toward the bright promise of spring.
To all of you out there, whether this is a religious holiday or not, may your days be merry and bright. Huzzah for the return of the light!
(As I read this over, I realize that it is extremely Northern Hemisphere-centric. To all readers in the Southern Hemisphere, I hope you are enjoying your longest day. ‘Cause we’re taking that sun back soon, and no, I’m not sorry.)
Shawna Reppert is the award winning author of Ravensblood and The Stolen Luck. Read her Yuletide Ravensblood vignette here: http://www.shawna-reppert.com/2014/12/21/yuletide-ravensblood-vignette/ and look for the release of Raven's Wing, the second book in the Ravensblood universe, on January 24, 2015.