The Winter Solstice Explained

wintersolstice Tomorrow is officially the beginning of winter – the winter solstice. It will be the shortest day and longest night of the year for us in the Northern Hemisphere. The term “solstice” comes from the Latin word “soltitium”, which means “sun standing still”. The sun appears directly over the Tropic of Capricorn and seems to stand still for a brief moment, before reversing direction as it reaches its southernmost position. This is caused by the rotation of the earth on its tilted axis, and is in fact the very moment when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted at its further point away from the sun.

Throughout history, people have observed the solstice as a seasonal milestone. The winter solstice is one of the oldest holiday traditions, and spiritually significant in many different faiths. In ancient times, the Romans held a weeklong December feast called Saturnia, to honor the God of Saturn. Some say that December 25th was chosen to celebrate Christmas because it coincided with the date of the Roman festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti – birthday of the Unconquered Sun. The word “yule” – used to describe the Christmas season – actually comes from the Norse word “jol”, which referred to the pre-Christian winter solstice Festival of Juul.

Stonehenge  – one of the most famous astronomical monuments in the world – was carefully aligned on a sightline with the winter solstice sunset. It is a popular gathering place for those who celebrate the winter solstice. stonehengeOne thing most people agree on about this time of year: it is a time to reflect not only on the changes in nature, but also the changes that have occurred during the past year and how they have affected each of us. It is also a good occasion to spend time with the family and friends who are important in our lives.

As we gear up for Christmas and the celebrations of the new year, we are bound to get caught up with last minute shopping, parties and obligations that demand our attention. There will be little time to spend looking within and attending to our own spiritual needs. No matter what you happen to believe in, it is important to take the time to reflect on what was, what is, and what will come.

Here are a few ways to celebrate the winter solstice:

  • Take time off – especially from media and electronics.
  • Make an effort to appreciate nature; since it is such a short day, pay special attention to the light. Bring natural light in during the day, and soft light like candlelight or firelight in after dark.
  • Get together with friends or family, and share thoughts about the past year – share what changes have occurred both around and within everyone.
  • Spend some time alone, and consider what you may be ready to let go of – fears, judgments or even goals that may no longer be relevant. Re-evaluate what is important to you, and think about what it will take to make positive changes in the coming year.

New Year’s resolutions are often hastily made and doomed to failure. Instead of meaningless lists of what you will and will not do next year (“I will lose 10 pounds, I will exercise more, yada yada yada), why not do something more meaningful. Take a moment for a quiet celebration of life and light.

Happy solstice! And Merry Christmas!

Categories: Think About it | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Beware of the Tow Truck – Especially from Crystal Wrecker Service

Living in a city with limited parking places, it is inevitable that at some point you will noparkingeither get a ticket or get your car towed. One great thing about Savannah is the city forgives one parking ticket per year. Last year, if you brought in 10 cans of food for the food bank, you were also forgiven a parking ticket.

My son was unlucky enough to have his car towed twice in the past two months. He works downtown, and often it’s hard to find a safe (and legal) place to park. The first time his car got towed, he had parked in the alley behind Boomys, where he works in the kitchen. His coworkers told him that it was ok, and that no one had ever gotten towed from that spot. Until now.

boomys

Last Friday, he was on his way to work when he hit one of the numerous pot holes that plague our city streets. Just as he was turning off Broughton Street the tie rod on his front tire broke, and fortunately he was able to get help pushing the car across MLK into a parking lot. He left a note on the window stating that the car was not drivable, in hopes that it would not be towed.

Now, I get that private parking is private parking. But someone saw his car, and I’m sure read his note, and yet still called the tow truck. What a jerk.

The worst part, however, is the towing company. My son went over to get the car on Saturday, and guess what? The lot is closed on the weekend. What? The drivers still go out and tow cars from all over the city, and park them in their lot, but you can’t get your car out??!

We actually went onto the website of the company, and it states there that you can get moneyyour car on Saturday and Sunday “by appointment.” If someone is in the office, it seems to me you ought to be able to pay and retrieve your car. But no, my son was told he would have to come back on Monday. Cha-ching! Another $40 gone.

When I took him back over there, we waited outside the lot for the tow truck driver to bring his car out. As he attempted to pull the lift out from under the front of the car, he almost ripped the bumper off. I imagine he would have done so if we hadn’t been standing there watching. Since we were, he went to find a couple of blocks to put under the tires so he could get the lift out with no further damage – and yes, there was damage.

bmw

We watched as the driver unloaded another car he had just towed off a different (flat bed) tow truck. I don’t know how he got the car up there, but he had a heck of a time getting it down. It wouldn’t budge, so he virtually jerked it slowly off the truck. When it was almost on the street, once again he almost ripped the front bumper off as he dropped it down. There was damage done to that bumper as well, although it was mostly cosmetic.

 

Unbelievable, right? As if it isn’t bad enough getting your car towed, now you have to wonder what kind of damage is going to be done. Sheesh!

 

tow-truck-driver

Beware of this guy

Categories: Are You Kidding Me? | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

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