The Winter Solstice marks the shortest, darkest day of the year–and often one of the coldest. Where I live, in Colorado, the trees have no leaves. The flowers have disappeared, sleeping as bulbs in the frozen ground.
Crows gather in large numbers in the skeleton-like branches of the elms and raise a ruckus, fighting to stay still against the bitter wind, but the song birds are all hiding. Coyotes walk across frozen rivers where two months ago they stopped to drink.
Our breath hangs in the air, a frozen sentiment, and we walk with heads bowed, our hats pulled tight against our ears and low near our eyes. We become our coats, huddled and tight inside the down. No one holds hands.
Most of the world is still, quiet, and waiting for a better day.
And, as with love, a better morning arrives almost immediately with the rise of the next day’s sun and a few more minutes of light. We feel the change, notice the shift: the earth has tilted a small degree, and our hearts, too, have moved and begun to unfold.
And so I chose to celebrate my wedding on the shortest day of the year because I know spring is coming, that placing a ring on my finger is an opening bud on a tree soon to be resplendent green with leaves.
I chose to pin a small flower to my suit jacket in anticipation of rows and rows of bursting begonias, delightful daffodils, and redolent roses lining the walk to my front door, all the windows open so the scent of so many petunias, penstemon, and forget-me-nots will fill my house to bursting.
I chose to sing ‘I Do,’ knowing the robins and chimney swifts and larks will soon turn and thrill in the skies, that the meadowlarks will sit atop a cattail and call across the meadow while the small, red-tailed hawks will circle at ease above the prairie.
My world will fill with words of hope and happiness, songs of love and desire–the call of the nut hatch, hummingbird, and woodpecker.
Raise a cup with me and drink freely of the celebratory wine! The rivers have unbound, the lakes teem with fish, the snow recedes from rock and tree and path. Suddenly, within a few short days, every road is open and all the vistas ring with green.
I chose to marry on the Winter Solstice because now, after the long winter, we can take our hands out of our pockets and curl our fingers around each other. We can open our arms for an embrace, uncoil from the hug of ourselves, so necessary to keep ourselves warm in the dark, and reach out to one another.
We can become the summer sun, the summer light together. Our breath will no longer hang in the air in expectation of words we can share. All the words are ours.
Now we can share everything, our touch and our plans and our happiness, coming alive to each other as the world comes alive: each bulb feeling the call to rise above the frost, each bear in his den stirring, each celebratory noisemaker set to unfurl in a rain of confetti.
I chose to marry on the Winter Solstice because all of my happiness is before me, brought into the sunshine, and I have longer, warmer, brighter days to share my joy with my love.