Light > Darkness

Light Definition
Merriam-Webster’s entry for light. Part of it, anyway.

“Something that makes vision possible”.

“Light” seems like one of those words that is difficult to define without using the word itself. But Webster’s first definition is beautiful in its simplicity. And compelling to me, especially at this time of year.

#confessanunpopularopinion: We’ve discussed in this space my love for melancholy Christmas. To the point of making a whole playlist for the season.

Honestly, I love the mid-December days with the 4:15 sunset and afternoons that are pretty much indistinguishable from evening. Every year has a rhythm. To everything there is a season, right?

But that’s me. Despite outward appearances, I’m basically a very dark person.


That doesn’t mean we don’t all long for light at this time of year. Across civilizations, through the centuries, regardless of faith or lack thereof, late December brings a rage against the darkness and quest for light.

So we seek out light.

We look for it in the darkness, alone, or surrounded by people we love.

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To the point where we’ll drive around in cars to go see other people’s lights.

And maybe, compare ourselves to other folks, a little bit. Because we can.


I’ve always said that Christmas Break comes at precisely the right time for a teacher. Everything around us, the whole world, says “Bundle up. Gather your people close. Take stock. Tell stories. Look back. And: Look ahead”.

So, if you are planning for second semester today, awesome. If that’s on the agenda for the weekend, cool. I’ve got my list sitting on my desk at school that I’m going to tackle in parts over the next few days.

And when I go in, I’ll probably have to take down the string of lights that has outlined my whiteboard for the last month.

Although, a warning. When you wake up on January 6, it’s going to be darker than you remember.

January 6 Sunrise

The sunrise lags the solstice by a couple of weeks, plus, let’s be honest, sleeping in is maybe the greatest perk of Christmas Break for a teacher. We’re gonna pay for that in a week or so. It’s gonna be pitch black when you wake up, and still dark-ish when you leave for school. On the first day back, when there is the slightest glimmer that we’ve turned a corner, when the buzz of seeing friends for the first time in a couple of weeks has burned off, we might have to make our own light.

My geometry students feel a little like they are stumbling through the darkness of a new kind of math. They might feel like they are crashing. They’re gonna need something to “make vision possible“. Or at least someone to thank them for flying Air Penguin.

“Who says a penguin can’t fly?”

Author: thedullguy

High School Math/PLTW teacher, Valparaiso High School, Valparaiso, IN. Opinions mine.

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