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Oxbow Bend, Snake River

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The Winter Solstice – A Time to Reset and Reflect

Patty Ceglio

The Winter Solstice – December 21 – is the day of the year with the fewest hours of daylight, and it marks the start of astronomical winter for the Northern Hemisphere (and Summer for the Southern Hemisphere). After the Winter Solstice, days start becoming longer and nights shorter as Spring approaches.

The Winter Solstice is considered a turning point of the year in many cultures.

For Seasonal Employers, this time of the year is also a relevant turning point. As Winter Employers are opening their doors, handing out name tags and kicking off their season, Summer Employers are beginning to dust off recruiting messages and stare at 2021 Staffing Plans. Given the enormous challenges that Summer 2020 presented, you might be A.) exhausted, B.) still in recovery mode, C.) awaiting this year’s tumble in the Solstice turnstiles with anxiety, or, D.) somewhat confident about taking a swipe at “next” because you’ve just about made it through the 2020 despite drinking-from-the-fire-hose at every turn. Kudos to you for being where your feet are – for arriving here, today – however you got here, wherever “here” is, and whatever it all means to you!

Solstice offers us the gift of mark-making. Of pause. Of reflection. And intention. A time when we can work to quiet the roar of all that is swirling around us, and focus on this unique opportunity in time and space. Fire and light are traditional symbols of celebrations held on the darkest day of the year.

On my bucket list, I want to one day bear witness to the magical occurrence of the sun rising through the giant boulders of Stonehenge in jolly ol’ England the first morning after Winter Solstice. This time-honored traditional gathering gives energy to the hope that better days are just ahead, as the days grow longer. Good weather will come back and seeds will be sewn (literally for some, and both literally and figuratively for me.) Life will, indeed, move on a little more brightly every day.

What inspiration will help light your way through the darkness of winter? Give that some attention with a glass of egg nog or mulled wine or a good, long soak in hot water. Or while one of your musically inclined pals is strumming away on his guitar. Or you know, if you’re really lucky, all of the above.

Lantern Festivals are another means of celebration at December Solstice, inviting attendees to let go of old thoughts and find new possibilities for the coming year. 2020 has forced our hand to think differently in so many areas of our lives. The way we live. The way we work. And the way we play. Have you had to revamp pieces – or all – of your operation? Or, heck, of your daily existence? Most employers would never have planned to offer Private Bathrooms or Grab & Go EDR meals for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. But look! Here we are. Making it up as we meander along and making the best of whatever challenging situation arises. Whether there’s a lantern set aloft with actual fire involved or not, Seasonal Employers already honor this tradition by being absolute rockstars in celebrating the end of one season and looking ahead to all that will be new in the next.

Consider a virtual Lantern-esque Festival with your coworkers or friends. (Safety first – no flaming lanterns in your forest or neighborhood!) Think “candle”. Think “fireplace”. Think “campfire”. Think “Solo Stove”. And then let those old thoughts and fears and stressors go. Let it go, Let it go.

One final note. When researching Winter Solstice, I was awestruck by the idea that this is also an occasion to recognize and celebrate the spirit of cooperation and partnership that helps communities survive difficult times. Say whaaaaattttt? How fitting is that for us – this Community of Seasonal Employers?! It actually gave me chills. At the Seasonal HR Association Conference, we’ve said “We’re in this together!” long before these words became the mantra for everyone in 2020. And so it goes. We are all stronger when we stand together, lean on each other, and make contributions to our communities of choice – family, friends, quarantine-pods, alumni, neighbors, co-workers, business associates, city, state, country and world.

May you embrace the mighty spirit of the Solstice. Recognize that you’ve done your best in trying times. Rest. Reflect. Reset. Seize the opportunity to welcome the new light, fresh energy, and promise of all that is to come. Cheers – and Happy Solstice!