A year ago my wife, Jan, and I moved to a local house with a panoramic shoreline view to be close to our daughter Elizabeth, a few blocks away. Now, we are getting ready for Christmas and trimming the tree with ornaments and lights in the true spirit and tradition amended safely by Thomas Edison in 1890.
Replacing the 17th century old world Eastern Europe strings of burning candles on tree branches with pins or melted wax, Edison not only altered our indoor tradition, but he also introduced the outdoor electric light display to brighten our spirits over the whole world.
Today, holiday lighting overcomes the darkest time of the year, December 21, the first day of Winter Solstice, which helps offset what is known everywhere as the winter blues, or SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The solstice is the day that has the fewest hours of sunlight during the whole year, but it is also when they almost unnoticeably get longer. This celestial station in the heavens has been observed since the beginning of Celtic recognition of astronomical definition visibly apparent in the Stonehenge temple of worship.
In modern times – and on Little Bay – this celestial transformation moves silently overhead while we sleep, but not in an unprepared way, since the tree is already decorated at the top with a bright and shining star as appeared over the little town of Bethlehem to welcome the Magi visitors from the east with gifts for the coming of our Lord.
While visions of sugar plums dance in the heads of youngsters anticipating the morning of Christmas four days later, the giving of gifts and the spiritual celebration that peaks the glorious family gathering is followed by New Year’s Eve.
After singing the song that reminisces out the old but also rings in with the new, the following morning brings the first dawn of the New Year. The first light bursts over the horizon with the promise of another day in our lives. It also renews hope for blessings that the horizon may hold in our personal and collective horoscope for family and all human beings around the globe.
Observing and celebrating the dawn out our windows has a rich local history going back to first Americans here. The Wampanoag Tribe called themselves “People of the First Light,“ as they were the first to see it rise out of the ocean at dawn. The nearby Narragansetts similarly called themselves “People of the Dawn,” and around the beginning of the last century they published a small local paper called The Dawn.
Looking out my window on Little Bay, I would finish my nostalgia of this time and place in the heavens to take a poetic license from their historical spiritual meaning of the rising Sun:
Hail to the light of day
glory be to the gleaming ray
as the sun rises over Buzzards Bay
By George B. Emmons