The daylight hours are shrinking and this gives us the opportunity to embrace and celebrate long nights. This doesn’t come naturally to many of us, especially in this day of artificial light and electronic screens lighting up every nook and cranny of a home. It can be hard for any number of reasons to celebrate darkness when we’re all so very used to glaring brightness at all hours of the day and night.
It is worth setting aside some time to celebrate and embrace the darkness that comes with this Autumnal season. This season of darkness has a lot to teach us about rest and rejuvenation and yes even about light. Take some time to implement small changes at home that can how you celebrate long, dark nights at home.
Light a Candle
Better to light a candle than curse the darkness is more than just a philosophical proverb. A candle has a way of softening the edges that electric light can’t. Candles also have a way signaling special occasions. Those flickering flames help us slow down for just a few minutes and relax.
The easiest way to have candles be part of the darkness celebration is to simply leave some in the center of the table as much as possible. Have meals by candlelight, read and journal at the table by that same candlelight. Color pictures, draw, knit, etc, using those flames. Play games with the family, make shadow puppets with the candlelight. Simply make the candles and the light they provide a focal point now and then rather than wishing for more daylight.
The candles themselves do not have to be super fancy or expensive. If on a budget, look to thrift stores and buy used ones. Make your own candles if you’re so inclined. Simply light a few candles and enjoy that warm glow.
As the nights get longer, the air tends to get chillier and many of us start leaving doors and windows closed more often. The air can get stale. Scent plays a giant part in our emotional well being and having everything shut up gives us a chance to fill our home with smells of our choosing. Fall is a great time for warm, spicy scents.
Use scented candles at the table if that’s easiest. Make potpourri from apple peels and cinnamon sticks and let is simmer easily on the stove for some added moisture in the air as well as scent. Diffuse essential oils.
This shouldn’t be about filling our homes with chemicals but rather filling the home with natural smells that help us relax and enjoy the darkness. Use scents that help you feel most at ease and that welcome you when you walk in the door after a long day. There’s truly no right or wrong here, just pick a natural scent that feels like fall and home to you.
The darkness usually brings chilly if not downright cold temperatures. A cup of something warm to hold and sip brings comfort on so many different levels. Obviously, the physical warmth of the cup in our hands can be incredible especially after being outdoors. Beyond that though for many of us, a warm cup of tea or cocoa soothes our spirits too.
Keep your favorites close at hand and ready for when the urge strikes. Keep dried herbs stocked for tea. Make sure there’s a collection of chocolate for hot chocolate making. Even keep a few bottles of something for hot toddies for the adults when the urge strikes.
Walk in the Darkness
Instead of huddling up inside in the darkness, go out into it when possible. A walk in complete darkness might not be doable. It’s okay, even good, to walk around a lighted neighborhood. Use headlamps if your street isn’t lighted and darkness is uncomfortable or feels unsafe.
If walking in complete darkness feels impossible for safety or other reasons, go out as the light begins to change. Take a walk at dawn or dusk when the world is in between night and day. Carry a flashlight so that cars can see you as they drive by.
This bit of time in the darkness can have a powerful effect on how we see and interact with the long nights. They no longer become hours that force us inside but rather become a celebration and appreciation of nature in all of her phases.
Go to Bed
Embrace the natural rhythm of the earth and sleep when it’s dark. I know, this runs counter to our modern thoughts of going constantly and checking email and social media every 10 minutes. Stop that. Allow the body and brain to rest in the natural rhythm of light and dark.
Ok, I know we have to get up for school and work. We still have to keep up with our modern responsibilities and lifestyle. However, we can do that and sleep for another hour or so every now and then. There’s a certain gentle rest that comes from allowing the body to set with natural rhythm of the sun.
This fall as the light changes rather than fear the dark embrace it by celebrating it. Welcome this season of darkness, its place in the natural rhythm of not just nature but in the home as well. These are small things but doing them throughout the season can really change our mindset from one of dread to one of understanding and celebration.
Please note: While these things might help on some surface level, they are not going to cure seasonal affective disorder please seek trained medical help for that condition.