The older I get, the less I tolerate cold weather. I don't know what it is, but I foresee a move to Florida in a few decades. However, there are unique gifts to be received during this time of year, so I always try to mark the (shortest) day in one way or another.

Early last night I walked out onto the back porch while my dear family continued to chat and laugh inside and just allowed myself to be in the cold for awhile. I know cold is a relative term, considering that it's relatively warm in East Texas for the first couple of winter days.

Usually, the winter solstice is mentioned in passing or you may have noticed it on your calendar from time to time. But what is the winter solstice, exactly?

Technically speaking, Wikipedia defines the winter solstice as "the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year, when the sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation in the sky. At the pole, there is continuous darkness or twilight around the winter solstice."

The winter solstice has been celebrated in many ways for millennia--across many cultures at different times. You may have also heard it referred to as Yule, which we still sing about in some of our Christmas carols. Some of our Christmas traditions, such as "boughs of holly," Christmas trees, and that playful sprig of mistletoe we hang over our doorways, were also a part of winter solstice celebrations of long ago.

There's something special about this crisp season. Now, this is Texas, and though we aren't typically socked in with miles of snow and ice, we definitely get our cold winter days and nights. It's during this season that we turn inward, gather with loved ones, and take a break from the frantic pace of the rest of the year--well, once we've finished our holiday shopping and cooking, that is. There's a certain warmth that can only be experienced in contrast to the outside chill. It reminds us to take a breath, get cozy, focus on loved ones, celebrate faith and family, and reflect on the new year.

And of course, it heralds the arrival of Christmas in just a few days--wishing you and yours a very merry one.