Editorial: Short Days – Long Nights

Have you noticed? Our days have gotten significantly shorter while our nights are getting longer. It is happening at the exact time when we are frantically trying to get more done during the day. The holidays are here and there is much to be done. There are parties, gatherings, Rob Mathes’ concert is next week, and it is going to be a good one! If you are a merchant in Greenwich, you are at your busiest of the year, while others – office workers – are finishing up year-end projects or putting finishing touches on next year’s budgets.

We seem to be at our busiest and most stressed when we should be finding time to enjoy family, friends, and co-workers.

Adding to the frantic pace of life is unsettling news from around the world. As we encounter people throughout town the conversations we hear echo a desire for a greater sense of community. We are reminded of the poem Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in 1863 titled “Christmas Bells.”

“And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

One of the terrific things about living in Greenwich is that if you seek a greater sense of community, you do not need to look far. We come easily together in large and small ways. This past weekend Old Greenwich was turned into a festive Currier and Ives holiday scene (minus the snow and low temperatures) as residents and shop owners came together to celebrate the First Light Festival. There were horse drawn carriage rides, musicians, s’mores and more.

The coming holidays bring something else with it too, something warm and fun to be around. The anticipation of soon having our children (of all ages) home for the holidays. It will also be the time when high school seniors are hearing from colleges where they applied early decision. Some will get in and some will not. They may be a little stressed and anxious. The entire college application process has become overly, and unnecessarily stressful. The right college will find the right senior.

Can you tell we love teenagers? We love having them around. Watching their minds develop and grow with each daily challenge. We stock the office with them in the summer. That’s right. Have a teenager you want out of the house this summer? Give us a call. If they are responsible, polite and fun, chances are we can use them as an intern. We had twelve last summer and they had a blast.

For many our sense of community grows when we participate in activities at our houses of worship. This is a beautiful time of year to attend a church or synagogue. The music, the preaching, the people they remind us of holidays from the past and often we remember them fondly. We were unable to attend services during COVID. Now that we are able to return to practicing our faith traditions in person, if we crave community, we should do so. Our sense of community will grow as a result.

As the national media overwhelms us with stories of war and politics, Longfellow’s poem seems stark with symbolism when he writes of “no peace on earth” and “hate is strong.” Fortunately, the poem does not end there.

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
the Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Our days may be getting shorter, but soon the Winter Solstice will occur, and the trend will reverse until by next June there will be almost seven hours of additional sunlight. For now, let’s not rush the clock or the calendar. Let’s us find ways, large and small, to enjoy the holiday season, celebrate what makes our community so great, and not focus on the dark.

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