On the evening of December 16, amid a forest of greenery and the twinkling of thousands of tiny icicle lights, our mistress of ceremonies Gemma Scott welcomed one and all to our 21st annual Winter Solstice celebration, held for the first time in our own sanctuary. With music and dance, poetry and play, we drove away the darkness and invited back the light. All the while, with our old tin ceiling looking down upon a celebration the likes of which it has not seen in many a year (if ever!)

Having the luxury of several days to decorate, preparations began with hooks and hardware, cleverly installed by Arthur Richardson, to allow the hanging of lights and decorations without damage to our new walls. Then Jeffrey Mabee and his lighting team encircled the room with lights and banners, followed by the greenery crew: Jim Rhodes, Tara Butler, Eileen Wolper and myself, returned from the forest with armloads of boughs, and joined by Marty Daniels, Wendy Krueger and Meredith Burgess and others to turn the greenery into swags, garlands and the big solstice wreath.

With the stage set, the Solstice Country Orchestra kicked off the festivities with several merry fiddle tunes, followed by the evening’s program of performers, some new to us and others perennial favorites. The UUCB choir, led by Music Director Steve Weston and accompanist Ellie Daniels, performed several numbers, both traditional and contemporary. The choir’s medley of The Holly and the Ivy, melting beautifully into the melody of our beloved UU hymn, Blue Boat Home, was a highlight of the evening.

The whimsical and witty Mummer’s play, penned by Sumner Roberts, reminded us of the perils of technology in this modern age, and with the spirited drumming of Dan Kirchoff and a hearty shout of Welcome Yule!, we summoned back the light.

The celebration concluded with the singing of a carol heralding the entry of the boar’s head, which led the march around the sanctuary to bring the entertainment to a close and begin the feasting. Organized by Arthur Richardson and with contributions from members and friends of the congregation, refreshments of cider and cakes were enjoyed by all.

The solstice team this year was led by the multi-talented Joanne Moesswilde, who not only co-ordinated the whole affair but also turned in a stirring performance as a Luddite carpenter in the Mummers play and even created the fabulous Boar’s Head cake! Bravo, Joanne!

Joanne reminds us to keep in mind everyone who made this special evening so memorable, all who helped with preparations and performances and especially those who rounded out this year’s Solstice team: Linda and Michael Bowe, Linda Buckmaster, Liz and Rick Fitzsimmons. Thanks also to many others not mentioned here who contributed their talents and time for performances, decorating, refreshments and clean-up.

A special joy this year was being able, for the first time, to welcome friends, neighbors and visitors to join us in celebrating this beloved tradition in our own sanctuary. December 31 will afford us another opportunity to open our doors to the community as we host New Year’s By The Bay, with musical performances in our sanctuary upstairs and a delicious meal, prepared by Sue Cobb and a team of volunteers, offered downstairs.

In this, our first year back in our newly renovated church home, we continue to find ways to draw together as a congregation through the long winter days and nights and to open our doors and our hearts to our community.

I wish you light, warmth and fellowship through the turning of the seasons. Karen Wigglesworth