The longest day is 21st June, but the day that feels longest is 21st December, the shortest.
Actually, that’s not true. Right now, every one of them seems like the longest, dreariest, dullest, dark by five o’clock but some days it seems like four day it’s possible to imagine. It’s ok. Even though it’s not. I just get like this every year.
Seasonal Affected Disorder or Seasonally Acquired Depression or whatever it’s properly called happens to lots of people. And as I type that I can hear my mother’s faux-joy denying there was anything wrong, denying utterly that there could possibly be anything wrong, and certainly nothing that needed any investigation by outsiders, oh dear me no. But there was. And there is.
The light messes me up a bit. The lack of it. It makes me spiral down and because it’s not like breaking your arm or even getting a cold, where one day you’re fine and the next day you’re very obviously not, it’s easy for me to forget it’s happening, as it always does, and do something about it.
Which is easy, just get out of the house and put the SAD lamp on when I’m in. Because otherwise I’ll just sit on the sofa or lie in bed, focussing on things that have gone wrong (the same kinds of things everyone has. I hope…) and how it will always be this way now. And forgetting that actually, that’s bollocks. It won’t be.
In a fortnight the shortest day comes and the days slowly, but then quite quickly get longer and the evenings lighter, until by the end of January, by any stretch of anyone’s reckoning still winter, it’s much lighter and brighter. Even if it’s usually colder than December, in my experience, anyway.
And I can deal with that. That’s what the scarf I bought at the Christmas market in Hungerford, 21 years ago this Christmas, or maybe it was only twenty, but it wasn’t any less, is for. It was as brilliant as Christmas markets always are, sparkling in the dark, little stalls where you could talk to the people who actually made the things they were selling, the woman who made my green scarf. It’s got some holes in it where the zip on my Barbour or a succession of them snagged it, as it will again this winter. As perhaps it should. That’s what too the big wool gloves lined with Thinsulate and the palms faced with leather are for, the ones I got in Copenhagen one freezing day in March, 2005, few minutes I had between getting off the ferry and catching a train to Hamburg, the glove-shop more like a big wardrobe than any shop in England, but despite its size perfect, with exactly and precisely what I wanted, real gloves that would last a substantial chunk of a lifetime.
The hat – well, the wool hat lined with Thinsulate went the way of all the best hats, on someone else’s head and I don’t know where. Or when. I haven’t got it now. Nor the Mercedes I had when I drove down to Lyme Regis for Christmas and New Year twenty years back, one of the best Christmasses ever, nor the stone barn I had in Stow-on-the-Wold nineteen years ago this Christmas, rather blighted by the bank deciding to pull a third of the business overdraft. At least I had the satisfaction that the bank manager was sacked shortly afterwards. I haven’t got something I thought I might have from last Christmas either, but I never really did anyway. What I need to not have is a downward mood because it gets dark early.
It’ll be ok. Really. Everything. It will. It does every year. It’s just the light.