Solstice of the Soul

Not to be dramatic or anything, but I call this time of year The Solstice of the Soul.

The runup to the shortest day is heralded by 4:30 p.m. sunsets, cloud-pocked skies and barren trees. Everything seems to be dying, including the light, and I find myself turning inward, hibernating, contemplating the chill of endings as the sun turns its back.

And yet in the midst of darkness and conclusion are the buds of new starts. Advent. The promise of longer days. A new year shimmering with possibility.

It feels familiar.

For me, this year has been a series of endings and beginnings. Dark and light. Doors closing, windows opening. You know the drill.

In some ways, I feel like a character in one of my own books. I’m at the three-quarters mark in the story, The Dark Night of the Soul when all seems lost, but is really on the brink of being found, reclaimed or rediscovered. If it’s the kind of story that’s going to end happily, that is.

So as the solstice approaches, I’m looking ahead to After when there’s more light and life. Here’s a short list of things I’m eagerly anticipating in the weeks and months ahead:

  1. Accidentally auditioning for “Baking Disasters” with this year’s batch of ruined Christmas cookies
  2. Trimming the tree with kid-crafted items that are basically hunks of cardboard held together by globs of glitter
  3. Drinking wassail while listening to Sting-based Christmas songs
  4. Making unrealistic New Year’s resolutions, like creating a new TikTok dance sensation or stifling the urge to correct errant apostrophes
  5. Making New Year’s resolutions I might be able to keep, like eating more tacos or not tilting my head when I listen (like the RCA dog)
  6. Kicking 2021 to the curb
  7. Welcoming 2022 like Robert Plant to a cozy dinner for two where he’ll serenade me and feed me tacos (see #5)
  8. Turning (mumbles age)
  9. Seeing my eldest graduate
  10. Seeing my youngest perform chiropractic-inducing acro stunts
  11. Working on my next book
  12. Finishing my next book
  13. Celebrating the other solstice
  14. Complaining about hot weather
  15. Spending as much time as possible with the people I love
Can’t wait to hang this…um…ornament on the tree.

How about you, dearest friends? How are the short days treating you? What are you looking forward to in the days to come?

*Photo by Tobias Bju00f8rkli on

72 thoughts on “Solstice of the Soul

  1. I’m not really a fan of the short days, but there is a certain appeal about the approaching new year. New possibilities and all that. Love your list, and here’s hoping we all have some good things to look forward to in 2022!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Been in a writing desert all week. Today is the first day we don’t have errands to run outside the house. We picked up the Christmas tree the other day. Now the time is coming to decorate it and to get out the Christmas village. Then there’s all the Christmas baking–biscotti, Sachertorte, mincemeat pie. I had planned to finish the first draft of my latest novel by New Year’s, but I’m only at 16K words. I will get another Sherlock Holmes to my editor before the end of the year, so that’s something.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hang in, Tom! I bet you get some writing done while relaxing in the Christmas wonderland you are creating–with a fire (you can a streaming Yule log for you TV if needed), a drink, biscotti, and twinkle lights. Race ya on the WIP?

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I definitely hate the short daylight hours. I wake up before 5:00 am, so it’s dark. And when I look outside at 4:30 pm, it’s dark again!

    I look forward to winter solstice since this means the amount of daylight will slowly increase. We are still waiting for our first big snowfall in Ottawa …we usually get a good amount in late October or early November, so seeing bare sidewalks and not having to wear big snow boots in early December is weird.

    And I will gladly kick 2021 to the curb with hopes for a better 2022 where I get to travel internationally, and see many of you in person at LCC and Bouchercon.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I don’t mind winter because it’s an excuse to build a fire. As long as I don’t have to go outside, and then I will complain to my heart’s content.

    I am looking forward to: publication of my third Homefront mystery in February, seeing friends at LCC and Malice, publication of my fifth Laurel Highlands Mystery in August, seeing my oldest graduate college and the end of parent-subsidized housing.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Thank you for continuing to grace us with your wit and indomitable spirit, Kathy. Personally, I can’t wait to take 2021, toss it in the fire pit, gleefully watch it burn with an Irish whiskey in my hand, then scatter the ashes across the continents. (Talk about dramatic!)
    Then, I will welcome 2022 with open arms with the optimism that comes with a new book series that debuts on March 1.
    Cheers to better days ahead!

    Liked by 5 people

  6. I’m also looking forward to turning the same (mumbles age) as you.
    I’m looking forward to finishing the three shorts I’m writing.
    I’m looking forward to hearing the words, “Guess what Mama- you’re going to be a grammy!” Nothing yet…
    I hate winter and darkness at 4:30, so I am looking forward to spring. In May I’ll travel to meet an author buddy and hang with her for a week. All good stuff. If you need someone to eat those cookie disasters, call me!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Liz, you made me laugh the laugh of recognition with that end of parent-subsidized housing comment. Our kid is also graduating college – I cannot believe how fast it went by – and I have to admit, it feels very weird to have no idea what she’ll be doing after that or where she’ll even be.

    Im looking forward to launching my new series, seeing everyone in person again, and … not sure what else.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Thanks for this post, Kathy. Here’s to a happy ending story for you! And I would so like to watch that new TikTok dance!

    I’m looking forward to meeting up with writer friends at conventions next year and having the L.A. Night Market series launch.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh my gosh, I can’t WAIT for the new series, Jen! There is so much goodness in store for us all there!

      And thanks for the TikTok encouragement. I actually had to download the app for work (I’m totally serious) and I’m finding myself pulled into its vortex.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. So Kathy, I’m thinking–why give up those artistic cookies to a mere disaster-baking show when you could shellac them and add them to the lovely ornaments on your Xmas tree? Every year, you could revisit them. And add more. Anyway, loved this post! I hate every day at 4 pm here in NH when all suddenly goes pitch black. I am immediately exhausted and also starving, and it’s nowhere near dinnertime (well, close, but I’m too tired to cook). I combat this fatigue with cookies, kind of like English tea but without the tea. Once “real” nighttime arrives, I’m buzzed on sugar and chocolate and ready to roll!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Now you’re talking, Lisa! I love the idea of immortalizing my cookie art. It could be like an exhibit in a museum of baking shame.

      It is so disorienting to feel like it’s dinnertime at 3:45 and bedtime at 5:30. I think your English tea, hold the tea, is a great strategy.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Kathy, that looks like an ornament with a story! I’m looking forward to seeing family at Christmas. But after that, I share your (and Jim’s!) desire to kick this year to the curb. Soon the days will be getting brighter!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. I’m not a fan of the short days either. It’s dark when I get off work, so I have to run in the dark. I much prefer light.

    At least, since I’m working from home, I get to enjoy sunlight through the windows during the day. When I’m in the office, I’m in my cubicle, and I rarely see daylight during the winter. Just one more advantage to working from home.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Not only would I watch your Tik Tok dance, Kathy, I’d even try to learn it and perform it enthusiastically with you!

    I had to laugh at that ornament because at first I thought it was Lifesavers candy glued on and it reminded me of the year we hung something edible-ish on the tree and in the frenzy of undecorating, it got stuffed into a box. Let’s just say the ants and mice were well-fed that year!

    I like your imagery of the solstice of the soul. I’m an avid list-maker, goal-setter, and planner so the end of the year is like catnip to me. Blank calendars, colored markers, and a ton of optimism help to turn a quiet December into an exuberant January.

    There’s always so much to look forward to! Theatre tickets! Trips! Left Coast Crime! Malice Domestic! I’m already wiggly with anticipation.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’m holding you to that TikTok promise, Becky. We’ll take the platform by storm!

      There’s something so gloriously first-day-of-school about the New Year. It feels so new pencils and shiny shoes.

      Love all that you’re looking forward to! I’m catching your wiggly anticipation.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Funny you should mention tap dancing, Lisa. Just the other day I decided to give it another go. Maybe my nervy, numb legs and feet will be more cooperative. My tap shoes are just so lonely and sad, she sobbed. I do not look good in hats, though, so I’ll have to take a firm stand about costuming.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Being here in Hawai’i nearer to the equator, our days don’t change all that much–it’s gets dark around 6 pm at the solstice. But even that’s too early for me. One of my favorite memories is of being in France in the summer and sitting outdoors in the fading daylight at 10 pm sipping a glass of wine.

    Which brings me to what I’m looking forward to next year: traveling again, specifically to Albuquerque and Bethesda to see all of YOU at Left Coast Crime and Malice Domestic!

    Liked by 4 people

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