Christmas, 2021

It was very early. I sat at the kitchen table looking out the north window into the darkness. To the right, I saw the soft glow of light from the greenhouse, and straight ahead the faint outline of the flag that hangs on the gable end of the shop. My view was somewhat skewed by the nose smears all over the glass, left by my wife’s dog as she stood guard on the windowsill, always on the lookout for squirrels. 

Woe to the slow squirrels. 

Last night, a full moon drove the coyotes wild. The big dog took that as a personal challenge, so what with the woofing and howling, there wasn’t much sleep. It was kind of a relief when the clock clicked over to an hour that didn’t feel ridiculously early to get up.  

In an effort to get Monday off to a great start, I upped my breakfast routine from Rice Chex to pancakes. 

It helped a little, but it was still white, cold, and dark outside my window. As I was eating, the moon was still visible, but on the western horizon, its quiet light didn’t yield much illumination. My dad once told me a story about driving home from a wedding in Roseau back in the ‘50s (about 300 miles), when the generator went out in his car. It was late at night, with a full moon. He couldn’t afford to not be home for chores the next morning, so he drove with his lights off to save the battery, only flipping them on when he met another car. 

This moon wasn’t that bright. 

I was staring out the window this morning in hopes of avoiding the news. Ever since the wonders of the Internet came to the prairie, I’ve gotten into the habit of starting my day by reading three newspapers and scanning several online magazines. Recently, I’ve become an expert in what advice columnists have to say, those folks who give answers to people struggling with lazy kids, cheating spouses and crazy in-laws. My reason? I can’t stand to read the actual news. Between politics, climate change, and covid, taking a deep dive into the thick of things can be a pretty bleak experience. 

I’ve been struggling a little, trying to get into the Christmas mood when all around me there is so much darkness. 

Then it dawned on me that that’s what Christmas is all about. Not the darkness but finding the light. 

“Silent Night”, “O Holy Night”, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” ...in Christmas carols, there’s plenty of recognition that we live in a world in which the darkness presses in all around us.  

But the darkness isn’t what’s important. What matters is the light we find shining through the night. 

It’s always there, one way or the other. Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a big, bright, full moon to show the way, but even if the light shines from just one star, that can be enough.   

You just need to keep searching. 

Copyright 2021 Brent Olson