I hadn't expected my visitor, but I was glad that he had come. After 400 miles driving, he was on my doorstep with a hug and a kiss. I placed a hot drink in his hand and we sat before the hearth, catching up on the news of each other's lives.
It was a quiet time, as befit the early hour. We were soon in our beds, curled up in anticipation, for the next day was the solstice.
Our day passed in communication and shared meals. Gifts were exchanged - not all of them tangible - and affirmations of love and goodwill given. All over town, lights and decorations glistened in the winter air, strewn between buildings or draped over lamp-posts. We passed under them, linking arms and chatting. (In my home too, tinsel and baubles lined the mantel and the tree, sparkling in the glow from the hearthlight.)
As the sun slipped beneath the western horizon, heralding the onset of the longest night, we were out in the world. Two decades ago, we had met while both living in a nearby city. We drove around it now, parking the car outside homes where one or both of us had once lived. We stood in the chill air, exchanging stories as the memories occurred to us. One house was boarded up now; another was bright with the lights of the family who were currently there.
We recalled the dreams of the people we had once been. We laughed together over half-forgotten jokes. We squeezed an arm around each other, when the remembrances turned dark. We touched base.
Later on, we returned to my home and opened a bottle of rich, heady Madeira. Toasting each other, we flicked through album after album of old photographs. Our impossibly young selves laughed back from snapshots in time. We smiled fondly, adding texture to the images by telling stories of when they were taken, or updating each other on our knowledge of old friends pictured here.
It was a solstice worth sharing. Settling our roots in the past, discovering our places in the present, sharing a special moment in time. I wish you all a happy Yule and a wonderful year, however you celebrate it.