As we approach what one of my favorite bands refers to as "The Darkest Night of the Year," it feels right to consider how often we must wait and endure, how both the dark and light are required to give the other meaning, and (maybe) how we can bond over the end to this shared suffering that is bitter coldness.
Wendell Berry's recent Whitefoot is a "gifty offering" that is formatted and appropriate for youngsters, but finely-crafted enough to warrant wider attention. The mouse at the center of the story finds itself swept away from home by the elements, in constant danger, and with simple needs that are at odds with the tendency to want to stay out of said danger. Despite the urgency of this situation, "Berry finds a heroic dimension to Whitefoot, and his gift is to make readers feel it, too," according to Publishers Weekly.
Minor White: The Eye that Shapes has been called "a landmark book" of photography and notes in a Library Journal review. While it might seem that White can find inclusion in this note simply because a vast amount of his work is in black and white, he uses contrast to its most effective. Of "Snow on Garage Door, Rochester, New York 1960," I feel alternately frigid and resentful of the shoveling I'm about to have to do, or cozy and thankful for early weekend evenings around the fireplace. Not that I have a fireplace. This book is full of silent nights, patient waiting, and frozen potential.
For some lighter fare (and to make sure this modern classic gets all the attention it deserves), check out Elf. I was amazed to meet someone the other night who hadn't seen this sweet Will Ferrell tale. If anyone in your family is the Christmasy-type, this one's required viewing for all. With a buoyant outlook on even the most emotionally challenging moments in the film, Buddy the Elf finds true happiness in the light at the end of the long, dark (Lincoln) Tunnel.
Finally, if you (and your kin) would like to know a little more about why, when, and how the sun will come back, check out The Return Of The Light : Twelve Tales From Around The World For The Winter Solstice. That this transition is such a universal cause for celebration and reverence makes me feel like it's warming up already.