The Season of Darkness and Light

Epiphanies and errant drifts of light, on the road to somewhere else.

On the way to Kensington Market for a Solstice Parade, we stop into a small gallery on College Street. I heard about it on the radio: a menorah lighting for the first day of Chanukah.

The room is warm, and smells of sweaters and candles and oranges. A young rabbi greets us. Candles are lit, songs are sung. The confluence between solstice and Chanukah is debated. We miss the parade, but then chance upon a bonfire, drumming, and a crowd of people carrying lanterns, on the longest night of the year.

A few days later. I am cooking up the perogies, warming the cabbage rolls. It’s Christmas Eve. Candles flicker; pleasure, humour, and all the small anxieties of the season fill the air. Our musician guests pull out their accordian, their mandolin. Klezmer music ensues.

The next day, I get on a plane. It’s late on Christmas night. I stand to stretch my legs. I see a field of small tv screens, a private, electronic starry starry night.

We drive to my brother’s house on Boxing Day: our belated Christmas Dinner and my mother’s eighty-fifth birthday. There is a comfortable expectant silence in the car. Outside the window: fir trees, strings of lights, an indigo prairie sky, and a crescent moon, glow.

I finally crash the next day. It has been an exhausting season, and a year full of hurdles, extremes of darkness and light. I am weepy, disconsolate. My mother comforts me. My brother cooks dinner. Diffidently, casually, he produces a wondrously silky Thai curry. I eat it sleepily, gratefully.

Here’s to families, chosen and inherited, straight and queer, and the breaking of new light.

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